Three major chocolate manufacturers recently announced their commitment to sustainable cocoa programs. U.K.-based Cadbury Schweppes established the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership with the United Nations Development Program to secure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of approximately 1 million cocoa farmers and their communities in Ghana, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean.
A sustainable label may prove as enticing to consumers as the heavenly aroma released when they tear into a chocolate, but keeping farms green also helps ensure candy companies remain in the black. Matt Shattock, president of Cadbury Britain, Ireland, the Middle East and Africa, said: "Sustainable cocoa production is vital to Cadbury's commercial success; not simply the supply of our most important ingredient, but guaranteeing a reliable, long-term source of the right-quality cocoa, produced to the high standards our business, customers and our consumers expect."
Switzerland-based Nestlé and McLean,Va.-based Mars joined the Good Inside Cocoa Programme, established by the Dutch nonprofit Utz Certified. The program works to reduce environmental and social problems such as deforestation and child labor in the Ivory Coast. Utz Certified hopes to accredit growers this year and have "Good Inside" cocoa available on the market by the end of 2009. The labels may reassure chocolate lovers that their treats were produced ethically. Then they need only feel guilty about the calories.
USDA to provide added quality-control step
Fresh- and processed-produce suppliers have another tool to help guarantee quality for retailers: the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Quality Monitoring Program. Designed to supplement companies' internal quality-control programs, the USDA program lets companies submit produce samples to graders from the agency's Agricultural Marketing Services for review. If products don't meet the companies' assigned specifications, they are immediately reported back to the company. "The program allows for a third-party analysis of a supplier's products," said Terry Bane, chief of USDA's processed products branch.
No more sobbing
If scientists have their way, cooks around the world will soon be chopping onions without tears. Using gene-splicing technology, scientists are successfully turning off the sulphur compounds in onions that, when cut into, produce the stinging effect. These compounds are then redirected into other compounds that can improve the flavor and health profile of the onion, the researchers said. The new onion is still in the development phase, and scientists don't expect to see it available for market before 2010.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 3/p. 17