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Jun 17, 2024 12:00:00 AM9 min read

Understanding the EU’s New Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products

This post was originally published on February 21st, 2024, and is updated constantly to inform you of the latest news on the EU Deforestation Regulation.

The New Landscape of Chocolate Production in Europe

In the heart of the cocoa industry, a seismic shift is underway, sending ripples throughout the world of chocolate. With the regulation set to take effect on January 1, 2025, Luker Chocolate has made significant progress in monitoring systems to ensure traceability from nearly 2,000 farms.

As of June 29, 2023, the European Union has taken a decisive step in the fight against deforestation by implementing the Regulation on deforestation-free products.

This groundbreaking regulation is not just a policy change; it’s a call to action for businesses across various sectors, particularly those involved in commodities such as cocoa, a key ingredient in chocolate production.

Navigate this menu or keep on reading to discover more:

 

What is the EU Regulation on Deforestation?

The EUDR - Regulation (EU) 2023/1115 on deforestation-free products mandates that any operator or trader dealing with commodities like cocoa must ensure their products are not sourced from recently deforested land or contribute to forest degradation. The primary objective is to curb the environmental impact of agricultural expansion, often responsible for deforestation. As a significant consumer of these commodities, the EU acknowledges its role in this global issue and is leading efforts to mitigate it.

Companies dealing with commodities like cocoa, coffee, cattle, oil, palm, rubber, soy, and wood must provide sufficient evidence of non-deforestation in the crops from which their products are sourced as far back as December 31st, 2020.

The non-compliance consequence is severe.

Products not meeting the new requirements are prohibited from commercialization in the EU market after December 30, 2024.

Find out about what Luker Chocolate is doing to protect the environment!

Implications for the Chocolate Industry

The EUDR regulation signifies a substantial shift in how cocoa is sourced for brands, businesses, and chocolate manufacturers. They must now prove that their cocoa is not linked to deforestation. This change demands a more transparent supply chain and greater accountability. Businesses have an 18-month window from June 29, 2023, to December 30, 2024, to align with these new standards. Luker Chocolate has launched a pilot project to produce chocolate using traceable cocoa for three product lines, a key step towards meeting our goal of starting European exports by October 1, 2024, in compliance with the EUDR.

technicians-from-Luker-visited-farms-in-Tumaco
Technicians from Luker visited farms in Tumaco to carry out the verification process.

Micro and small enterprises are given extended adaptation periods and specific provisions to help them transition.

The regulation requires chocolate manufacturers to hold evidence by 2024 to demonstrate that:

  1. The products exported to the EU do not originate from recently deforested land – this requires the collection of information, data, and documents to prove the land has not been subject to deforestation after December 31, 2020
  2. The products have been produced following the relevant legislation of the country of production.
  3. The products exported comply with the respect of human rights.

FOR LUKER CHOCOLATE:

Colombia developed a voluntary no-deforestation agreement in 2018. The government, Fedecacao, Casa Luker, IDH, and other organizations signed an agreement to achieve deforestation-free cocoa production. This treaty promotes the protection and restoration of forests in the cocoa value chain.

Also, “Colombia was the first country in Latin America to join the World Cocoa Foundation – WCF – Global Cocoa & Forests Initiatives with a clear commitment to have a zero-deforestation cocoa value chain and to improve the quality of life of cocoa farmers in the priority areas for the implementation of the Peace Agreement.” as said by the Cocoa, forests and peace initiative

Agroforestry as Mitigator of Deforestation in Cocoa

🌾 Agroforestry: A Sustainable Solution

Agroforestry, an integrated approach that combines agriculture and forestry techniques, emerges as a viable and sustainable solution in cocoa production. Here’s how agroforestry can make a difference:

  • Diverse Planting: Agroforestry involves planting cocoa trees alongside other trees and plants. This diversity ensures a more balanced ecosystem, promoting biodiversity. The presence of various plant species supports a range of wildlife, maintaining ecological equilibrium.
  • Soil Health: Mixed planting in agroforestry helps maintain soil fertility and structure. The diverse root systems of different plants reduce soil erosion, enhance water retention, and improve nutrient cycling in the soil.
  • Carbon Sequestration: Trees in agroforestry systems act as carbon sinks. They are crucial in mitigating climate change by absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • Economic Benefits: Agroforestry can provide farmers with multiple sources of income. Besides cocoa, they can harvest fruits, nuts, and other products from the same land, increasing their economic resilience.
  • Preservation of Native Forests: Reduces the need to clear additional agricultural forest land, thereby protecting existing forests.

 

The Path Forward for Chocolate Companies

Adapting to these new regulations is not just a compliance issue; it’s an opportunity to lead in sustainable practices. 

“We embrace the new regulations as we continue to shape a responsible and sustainable future for chocolate production.”

Julia Ocampo – VP of Sustainability & Cocoa Sourcing at Luker Chocolate

Chocolate companies must reassess their supply chains, engage in more sustainable sourcing practices, and collaborate with cocoa farmers to promote agroforestry and other eco-friendly farming methods.

This shift towards sustainability benefits the environment and resonates with increasingly eco-conscious consumers, opening new avenues for brand growth and consumer trust.

What is deforestation-free chocolate?

A deforestation-free chocolate product is produced without contributing to the destruction or degradation of forests.

The concept is intrinsically connected to the 2023 EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products. The regulation requires that chocolate products are not sourced from recently deforested land in the EU market. Deforestation-free chocolate products adhere to this mandate, ensuring compliance with EU standards.

Chocolate manufacturers must verify and disclose the origins of their cocoa, a core principle of deforestation-free chocolate production.

How is Luker Chocolate working to prevent deforestation in Colombia?

Deforestation is one of the most serious environmental problems that the planet faces today during a period of severe climate change. 

Between 2005 and 2017, more than 1.5 million hectares of forest were lost in Colombia, according to a study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Most of this deforestation occurred in regions of the country that have been affected by armed conflict and illicit crops for decades. These are mainly in areas with agro-ecological potential for cocoa production, such as the Amazon region.

In the country, cocoa production is mainly done by small farmers, with 1.5 to 3 hectares cultivated under agroforestry systems. This means that cocoa is considered one of the value chains with more significant social and environmental positive impacts and is not catalogued as a cause of deforestation. Cocoa crops are known in Colombia for their ecological benefits, such as soil restoration and carbon sequestration, due to the implementation of agroforestry systems.

Luker’s approach is rooted in promoting and protecting biodiversity, water resources, and forests to enhance ecosystems and achieve environmental balance.

But it extends beyond this to the cocoa-producing communities’ economic and social well-being as part of our triple impact model. Farmers work closely with us in the supply chain and empower themselves through programs where they obtain the information and skills they need to work in balance with the environment. This ensures the cocoa Luker works with is grown under sustainable practices and allows us to confirm that our chocolates comply with the EU regulation requirements on deforestation-free supply chains.

How Luker is adapting to the new regulations

The regulation requires all exporting operators to hold evidence by 2024 that

(a) The products we export to the EU do not originate from recently deforested land.
(b) The products have been produced according to Colombian legislation.

In this sense, we are currently undertaking an ambitious traceability project that will allow us to evidence and monitor, through geo-referenced polygons and lot tracking, that the cocoa growing farms from which we source our cocoa are deforestation-free. This will allow us to exercise the due diligence required by the EU regulation with the collection of information, data, and documents needed to prove the land has not been subject to deforestation after 31 December 2020.

Regarding requirement (b), it is essential to highlight that in Colombia, the expansion of cocoa crops is done under a controlled strategy supervised by national agencies and international cooperation to prevent future deforestation.

Furthermore, in Colombia, cocoa production is mainly done by small farmers, with between 1.5 and 3 hectares of cocoa cultivated under agroforestry systems; therefore, cocoa is considered one of the value chains with more significant social and environmental positive impacts and is not catalogued as a cause of deforestation. 

technicians-from-Luker-carry-out-the-verification-process
Technicians from Luker visited farms in Tumaco to carry out the verification process.

Find out more about the first project we did on fully traceable chocolate more than 2 years ago!

With the regulation set to take effect on January 1, 2025, we have made significant progress in monitoring systems to ensure traceability from nearly 2,000 farms. Dark couvertures are classified as relevant items subject to regulatory oversight, while white couvertures are not included. We recommend reviewing the requirements and establishing due diligence procedures according to your company’s classification under the regulation. For more details, visit EUDR Regulation.

Our commitment to a positive impact

In a testament to our commitment to a positive impact on the planet, Luker Chocolate was the first private sector company to sign the Cocoa, Forest, and Peace Initiative (2018) to prevent deforestation in cocoa production in Colombia. It is the first significant pact for the country’s sustainable development of cocoa production that contributes to the protection and conservation of the Colombian ecosystem. It also will transform the realities of the country’s cocoa farming families today.

Additionally, we signed our commitment to Race to Zero in 2021 to reduce our emissions, achieve carbon neutrality by 2022, and transform the cocoa value chain into a sustainable value chain. As producers, we understand our responsibilities through our operations, communities of influence, and the whole planet. This commitment reinforced our core value of striving to become more sustainable and climate-positive.  If we don’t protect our world, we can’t protect our crops.

To act upon these commitments, we work hand in hand with producers, clients, and partners of The Chocolate Dream, not only on actions to avoid negative environmental impacts but also on projects to actively protect and restore biodiversity, water sources, and forests.

Find out more about what Luker Chocolate is doing to protect the environment!

Together, we can work to ensure a better future for our planet, free from deforestation. We will keep you informed as we progress and address any questions or concerns you may have. You can also consult the EUDR’s frequently asked questions page for additional information.

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