Press Releases Beyond Chocolate

Beyond Chocolate

Beyond Chocolate
Alexander De Croo launches partnership for sustainable Belgian chocolate with the chocolate industry, major retailers and civil society.

Making Belgian chocolate even better and more sustainable. This is the joint ambition of the Belgian chocolate and retail sector, civil society, social impact investors and universities. Under the impetus of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, they all signed today in Antwerp the Beyond Chocolate partnership for sustainable Belgian chocolate. With their signature, they commit themselves to tackling child labor, combating deforestation and ensuring a livable income for local cocoa producers.

Belgian chocolate is known at home and abroad as a high quality product. However, in addition to the best quality, consumers of Belgian chocolate also need to be able to count on the maximum sustainability of the product. That is why Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo took the initiative for Beyond chocolate, a partnership that aims for sustainable Belgian chocolate. Sustainability organisations The Shift and IDH Sustainable Trade Initiative played a coordinating role in the creation of Beyond Chocolate. The signing took place today in Chocolate Nation, the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world – where chocolate lovers will be able to learn all about chocolate from January 2019.

Wide group of signatories
In addition to the Choprabisco sector federation, retail chains Delhaize, Aldi, Lidl, Carrefour and Colruyt Group committed also themselves for their own brands. Belgian universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, impact investors and trade unions support the new partnership and will contribute in their own field to a sustainable Belgian chocolate. Manufacturers of non-Belgian chocolate also come on board. This is important, because to make Belgian chocolate more sustainable and to be able to write real success stories, every actor in the chain must cooperate.

Alexander De Croo: “We all enjoy our delicious Belgian chocolate. At home and abroad, Belgian chocolate has a very strong reputation. By paying even more attention to sustainability, we make our chocolate taste even more. I am therefore very pleased that the entire Belgian chocolate sector, the major retailers, NGOs, trade unions, social impact investors and universities are supporting it.”

Jos Linkens, President Choprabisco, the Royal Belgian Association of the Chocolate, Praline, Biscuitry and Candy Industry: “Belgian chocolate is known and loved worldwide for its superior quality. For years, we have also been striving to preserve the complex cocoa chain. Thanks to the Beyond Chocolate initiative of Minister De Croo, we are making great strides forward. We are therefore proud to be able to sign this partnership in which all stakeholders work together to make the Belgian chocolate sector fully sustainable.”

The partnership is open to additional signatories who want to help fulfil the commitments.

Series of concrete commitments
With Beyond Chocolate, all signatories commit themselves to working together on a whole range of challenges in the field of sustainable chocolate, such as tackling deforestation, child labour and a liveable income for local cocoa products.

In concrete terms, this means that all Belgian chocolate produced or traded in Belgium meets a relevant certification standard or is produced with cocoa products from company-specific sustainability programmes by the end of 2025 at the latest.

The agreements between governments and private partners that fall under the Cocoa & Forests Initiative must also be fully respected by the end of 2025 at the latest. This mainly concerns ending deforestation in the two largest cocoa producing countries, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Deforestation as a result of cocoa production for the Belgian chocolate sector must end by 2030. By then, all cocoa producers must earn at least a living income.

Result of the Belgian SDG Charter
Beyond Chocolate builds on the Belgian SDG Charter for International Development. It was launched two years ago and brings together the private sector, civil society and government around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Belgian chocolate – a few figures
Belgium is one of the largest importers of cocoa beans. Every year, more than 300,000 tons of cocoa beans enter our country via the port of Antwerp.
Belgium is the second largest importer of cocoa beans in Europe, after the Netherlands and Germany. The port of Antwerp is not only important for the Belgian chocolate sector, but is also an important port of entry for cocoa beans for the food industry in Germany, the Netherlands, France and other EU countries.
The Belgian chocolate sector accounts for an annual turnover of almost 5 billion euros. About 500 companies are active in the cocoa processing industry and chocolate sector, varying from large multinationals to SMEs and artisanal chocolatiers.
Almost 600,000 tons are exported annually by Belgian chocolate makers, both to neighboring EU countries and to the US and Japan. This makes Belgium the second largest chocolate exporter in the world.


Current signatories

Chocolate industry

  • Choprabisco
  • Puratos (Belcolade)
  • Barry-Callebaut
  • Cargill
  • Mars Belgium
  • Mondelez
  • ZOTO
  • Toney’s Chocolonely

Public sector

  • Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation
  • Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Marie-Christine Marghem, Minister for Sustainable Development
  • Enabel – Trade For Development Center
  • BIO Invest


  • WWF
  • Trias
  • Oxfam
  • Wereldwinkels
  • Rikolto


  • Lidl
  • Aldi
  • Colruyt Group
  • Ahold/Delhaize
  • Carrefour

Universities / Knowledge centers

  • Universiteit Gent
  • KU Leuven
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • Universiteit  Antwerpen
  • Universiteit Hasselt
  • ARES

Trade Unions

  • ABVV/FGTB Horval

Social impact investors

  • Incofin
  • Alterfin
  • BIO Invest
  • Oikocredit
  • Kampani

Labels and member organizations labels

  • Rainforest Alliance /Utz
  • Fairtrade
  • BioForum Vlaanderen

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