Lindt gets heavy chocolate pressure from pro-sustainability groups

Berne Declaration group delivers giant chocolate bar to Ernst Tanner, CEO of Lindt & Sprungli


One metre wide, two metres long and all fair trade: chocolate bar designed to encourage Lindt and other Swiss chocolate companies to do the same.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland’s staid business reputation gets a shock every now and again when an annual general meeting (AGM) is visited by protestors, such as orangatang-garbed ones who dropped in on Nestlé a couple years ago.

2013 will go down in the corporate memory as the year that protestors tried to get Lindt and the rest of the chocolate industry to bow to pressure under the weight of a giant fair trade chocolate bar.

The Berne Declaration handed Ernst Tanner, chief executive officer of Lindt & Sprungli near Zurich, a giant chocolate bar made with the help of 10,000 people.

The bar is a fair trade creation, to show that it is possible to make commercial chocolate this way, says the group: two metres long and one metre wide, with a chocolate cover made by Claro, a fair trade confectioner. The bar’s ingredients are all sourced and as much of the added value as possible is thanks to work done by local farmers.

The petition demands that Swiss chocolate-makers do more to ensure social justice and sustainability in the cocoa industry. In particular they want to see “100 percent traceability, 100 percent fair prices, 100 percent human rights all along the production chain”.

Swiss chocolate companies have made progress – more is needed, say protesters

Tanner accepted the chocolate bar at the AGM and pointed to decisions in this area made recently by the company. The Berne Declaration says it is impatient to see how these measures translate into action.

“Lindt & Sprungli, like the majority of the Swiss cocoa and chocolate industry, is still very far from being able to guarantee that its chocolates are the result of conditions that respect human rights,” the Berne Declaration said in a statement Thursday. “This is what was shown by an analysis published in March by the Berne Declaration of 19 Swiss production and transformation firms. Without a fair price policy, it is hard to see how to reduce the use of child labour, for example. Working children is a consequence of the poverty of small farming families. True, many of the companies have taken first steps towards fair trade, but concrete measures and strategies for applying them efficiently are still lacking, and these are needed to ensure that farming families earn subsistence wages.