Deforestation and conversion

Roughly 17 million hectares of forest worldwide are lost or environmentally degraded by poor cultivation practices every year. This reduces biodiversity and accelerates climate change. Therefore, part of HALBA’s sustainability efforts focus on avoiding deforestation and the conversion of natural ecosystems. The objectives pursued and steps taken by HALBA in this respect are listed in the Deforestation and Conversion Policy.


What are the causes of deforestation and conversion?

Forests, particularly rainforests, are being cut down worldwide for agriculture, converting natural ecosystems into farmland. In the tropics in particular, poverty and social inequality drive people in search of farmland into forested areas, where forests are cleared and subsequently used for agriculture. Timber, cocoa, coffee, soya, rubber and palm oil production, along with cattle farming, are among the main causes of global rainforest deforestation. Out of the raw materials used in Switzerland which contribute most to global deforestation, cocoa ranks second. The preservation of biodiversity, the protection of natural resources, and environment and climate protection are anchored in the Coop Sustainability Strategy and taken very seriously by HALBA.

Commitment and long-term goals.

As a division of the Coop Group, HALBA is committed to the overriding objective of establishing completely deforestation- and conversion-free supply chains for all «critical raw materials» by the end of 2026. 31 December 2015 is regarded as the cut-off date. This means that an area cannot be used for cultivation if it was deforested or converted after this date.

HALBA has set an even more ambitious target for cocoa. By the end of 2024, HALBA wants its cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cocoa powder and cocoa mass to come from a 100 percent deforestation-free and conversion-free supply chain. The precise procurement location must be known so HALBA can make sure there is no forest conversion in the supply chain. HALBA relies on certifications from independent sustainability standards to ensure traceable, transparent and deforestation-free supply chains. This goal has been achieved since 2018 in the procurement of cocoa beans, which HALBA sources 100 percent certified and segregated in accordance with the Fairtrade standard.

From 2024, HALBA will also switch from Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance mass balance to segregated supply chains for the procurement of cocoa butter, cocoa powder and cocoa mass. Compared to mass balance, this ensures that cocoa products can be fully traced back to the certified farms and guarantees deforestation-free, conversion-free supply chains.

HALBA also records the exact GPS location and polygons of all the cocoa farms in the supply chains. This data and satellite images are used to check and monitor whether the cocoa cultivation areas are actually free from deforestation and conversion.

In addition to this, HALBA aims to restore part of the ecosystem with dynamic agroforestry systems in cocoa cultivation areas that were deforested, converted or degraded before 31 December 2015. By 2040, HALBA wants to procure at least 50 percent of the cocoa beans it processes from dynamic agroforestry or similar production systems.