Our responsibility for tomorrow.

Different functions, a common vision: Réka Szalay and Petra Heid both seek to expand HALBA’s position as Switzerland’s most sustainable producer of Swiss chocolate and snacks. They aim to use organic and fairtrade raw materials wherever possible. An ambitious goal.

One thing is for certain: HALBA’s commitment to sustainability has been pioneering from its very inception, and it will continue to grow and improve.

«I care deeply about social sustainability. When I was in Nepal a few years ago, I was able to advise and assist women involved in a microfinance project. This showed me how important it is to promote projects that improve people’s lives, strengthen communities and create prospects.» says Réka Szalay, HALBA’s CEO. «This experience is also reflected in our overarching corporate philosophy: acting responsibly is crucial for the long-term success of everyone along the value chain.»

Petra Heid has been the Head of Sustainability at HALBA since 2015. To her, sustainability is more than a professional interest. «Thanks to a community permaculture garden right on my doorstep, I have organic vegetables all year round.» says Petra Heid.  Her culinary garden on Lake Constance ensures her seasonal self-sufficiency and protects biodiversity.

Réka Szalay: «Sustainability has played a key role in HALBA’s corporate strategy for many years. We pursue a holistic approach comprising social responsibility, environmental aspects and good governance. We want to keep evolving and maintain our position as a sustainability pioneer.»

Petra Heid: «A pioneer is someone who is groundbreaking in a certain area. HALBA has been such a groundbreaker for more than a decade: our sustainability projects are, indeed, pioneering.»


How is responsible action embedded within the company, and how does HALBA ensure due diligence obligations are upheld?

Réka Szalay: «We’ve embedded sustainable, responsible business practices within the company. Our employees receive regular training, which gives them a sound base of knowledge in terms of social and environmental challenges and solutions in our supply chains.»

Petra Heid: «We set great emphasis on due diligence obligations throughout the entire value chain of our raw materials – from procurement to manufacturing through to sales. Our policies on key areas determine our areas of focus for the future and lay the groundwork for our company’s approach to sustainability. They formulate our goals and actions clearly and ensure we’re living up to our responsibility.»


How are potential risks in terms of raw materials procurement, working conditions and business practices identified and appraised?

Réka Szalay: «In 2023, we worked with an external consulting company to perform a comprehensive analysis to identify and review potential negative impacts on human rights and the environment in our supply chain. This analysis confirmed the definition of 18 raw materials whose cultivation and processing could be associated with heightened social or environmental risks. On this basis, measures were developed to overcome, reduce or avoid these risks.»

What specific steps has HALBA taken to minimise or resolve risks that have been identified?

Petra Heid: «Our actions focus on raw materials classed as ‘critical’. 80% of these raw materials should be accredited by a sustainability standard by 2026. From this year, in addition to cocoa beans, our derivatives will also be fully traceable. This allows us to know for certain where and how they were produced and that environmental aspects were taken into account.»

Réka Szalay: «Plus, our sales of organic products grew a striking 10% in 2023 compared to the previous year, with organic products now making up more than 30% of our total turnover. We can rely on customers and consumers who think about sustainability systematically and turn these thoughts into action, too – so we can do good together.»

Petra Heid: «We’re involved with various sustainability projects in the countries of origin. This far surpasses the requirements of sustainability standards and supply chain transparency. We work closely with local cooperatives to actively promote dynamic agroforestry systems to make the cultivation of critical raw materials more sustainable and to boost and diversify suppliers’ incomes.»

Réka Szalay: «We set great store by fair procurement, in particular. This includes maintaining fair, long-term relationships with suppliers and producers. In addition, we encourage the payment of a living income for farmers: this is very important to avoid child labour

Petra Heid: «The ‘Sankofa’ sustainability project has seen us promote dynamic agroforestry and income diversification – in collaboration with other partners – since 2019, paired with a climate protection project for cocoa cultivation in Ghana.»

How does HALBA contribute to achieving climate goals?

Réka Szalay: «As a division of the Coop, we adhere to its climate strategy. The entire Coop Group, including HALBA, joined the ‘Science Based Targets initiative’ in 2023. The steps we’re taking to promote dynamic agroforestry systems also support the SBTI’s reduction goals.»

Petra Heid: «Preventing deforestation and promoting reforestation will play a key role in reaching climate goals by 2030 and 2050. We set up the HALBA Climate Mitigation Fund in 2023. Going forward, this will finance climate-related agroforestry projects in our own supply chain. Purchasing chocolate products with lower emissions allows us to help our customers cut their carbon footprint. This makes another key contribution to climate protection.»


How is the execution of sustainability-related activities monitored at HALBA?

Réka Szalay: «The requirements set out in the guidelines or external standards (e.g. Fairtrade, Bio Suisse or amfori BSCI) are reviewed in regular independent audits within our company's supply chain. In addition, our sustainability and purchasing department repeatedly visits our suppliers on the ground to ensure that the actions are actually being taken and to foster direct, personal contact.»

How does HALBA communicate its commitment to sustainability and its progress in this field?

Petra Heid: «In our Sustainability Report, we shine a light on our work in various areas and report on the results achieved. In turn, our stakeholders can learn about the current situation and our progress.»

Réka Szalay: «Our commitment to sustainability is guided by various criteria, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, we have our own detailed goals, which we measure consistently, and our progress in every area is documented. This progress motivates the entire HALBA team time and again, enabling us to maintain our status as pioneers and inspire others in the industry. On-site visits confirm the effectiveness of our endeavours and highlight the importance of continuing this journey so we can achieve even more.»