The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) has announced that certification program UTZ has become the first ever non-industry partner with the company.
ICI already allows civil society members, NGOs and academics on its board – and has partners such as Mars, Ferrero and Mondelēz – and fairly recently allowed civil society organisations to join them under the moniker of ‘nonprofit contributing partners’.
Prior to this, only processors, retailers, traders and manufacturers could be listed as contributing partners.
UTZ has made a huge name for themselves by becoming the largest cocoa certifier by volume, as 56% of global certified volumes in 2015 were done by UTZ. Later this year, UTZ will merge with the Rainforest Alliance to increase its share to 79%, but the merged entity will operate as the Rainforest Alliance.
ICI itself is a non-profit foundation which focuses heavily on child protection within cocoa-growing communities. Among others, Nestlé, Olam, Barry Callebaut and Cargill have all used ICI’s child labour monitoring and remediation systems in their cocoa communities.
Both ICI and UTZ warned in June this year that the sharp declines in cocoa prices could put children at a significantly increased risk of child labour unless more work is done to prevent this.