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Ghana, Ivory Coast threaten to suspend cocoa companies' sustainability schemes

LONDON/ABIDJAN, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Ghana’s cocoa regulator threatened on Thursday to suspend the sustainability schemes used by major cocoa and chocolate companies to assure consumers that the beans they use are sustainably and ethically sourced.

In comments prepared for the World Cocoa Foundation conference on behalf of Ghana and its west African neighbour Ivory Coast, Joseph Aidoo, chief executive of Ghanaian regulator Cocobod said cocoa and chocolate companies in West Africa were thwarting government attempts to combat farmer poverty.

As a result, their sustainability schemes, which allow companies such as Barry Callebaut and Nestle to charge consumers a premium for chocolate certified as sustainably sourced, could be suspended.

Ghana and Ivory Coast, which together produce two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, introduced a living income differential (LID) or premium last year on all 2020/21 cocoa sales and said the proceeds would be used to raise the income of cocoa farmers who earn on average little over $1 a day.

“The (cocoa/chocolate) brands (have) openly announced their commitment to the LID (but) our intelligence indicates there is a ploy by some to derail (it),” Aidoo said.

“Any brand that is seen not to be serious in accepting the LID by mid-December 2020 must consider all its cocoa beans from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire as conventional. We are prepared to name and shame these brands,” he added.

Ivory Coast and Ghana have struggled to sell forward their 2020/21 cocoa crop since introducing the LID, in large part because the coronavirus-induced recession slashed demand for non-staple foods like chocolate.

Reporting by Maytaal Angel; editing by David Evans

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