Similar to other major sustainability programs, such as Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and Fairtrade International, Cocoa Horizons aims to “improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities through the promotion of sustainable, entrepreneurial farming, improved productivity, and community development,” Barry Callebaut said.
The chocolate supplier acquired the former privately-held Mona Lisa brand in 2012 for its artisan and specialty product portfolio, and has since expanded 20,000 square feet of its North Carolina facility.
Mona Lisa’s current factory is 65,000 square feet, and it primarily supplies products to bakery, confectionery, and food service segments in the US.
“Even though Mona Lisa is a brand fully owned by Barry Callebaut, it’s the same process [of Cocoa Horizons verification] that we would be using for our external customers,” senior manager of marketing and sustainability at Barry Callebaut, Seema Kedia, told ConfectioneryNews.
“We just guaranteed the volume of Horizons beans that we source in origin countries is equivalent to the volume of products Mona Lisa is selling.”
“It’s hat’s known as ‘mass balance program.’ Basically, there’s a premium associated with that cocoa bean that goes back to farmers directly as a financial premium or through community productivity services,” Kedia added.
She also pointed out the Cocoa Horizons program is audited by PWC, a London-based multinational professional services network, to ensure the premiums are being used for the program’s purpose and mission.
Not a guarantee of sustainable end products
“Our customers will see the Cocoa Horizons name on the ingredient list on the products they order from us,” Barry Callebaut’s commercial manager of decorations, Jamie Mogilner, said.
However, Mona Lisa’s products are mainly used in conjunction with other chocolate since they are confectionery decorations, so an end product is not necessarily labeled with the Cocoa Horizons logo unless the its entire cocoa ingredients are sustainably sourced, she explained.
“The opportunity is there for customers of ours to talk to consumers about the program they are supporting, and to be able to say their products are made with sustainable chocolate decorations,” Mogilner said.