Developing inventory data for chocolate: Importance to consider impacts of potential deforestation in a consistent way among ingredients (cocoa, sugar and milk)

Sebastien Humbert, Quantis
Laura Peano, Quantis
Presented by: Melissa Zgola, Quantis

Chocolate is definitely a delicious thing! However, some could feel guilty to consume a product that may have contributed to environmental impacts, such as deforestation, in its production. Most of the people will think about the cocoa production, but what about the potential deforestation associated with sugar if it comes from sugar cane in Brazil? Or what about soya production to feed the Swiss dairy cows used to produce the milk-based products inside the chocolate? This presentation explores the importance of deforestation impacts in the supply chain or chocolate and the importance to assess this issue in a consistent way among cocoa, sugar and milk. The potential deforestation is based on a share-responsibility approach, meaning on an average deforestation on a country base. As a matter of simplification the composition of chocolate is calculated as 35% cocoa, 35% sugar and 35% milk powder (accounting for 5% waste in the process). Results show that from chocolate perspective, milk powder contributes most to the carbon footprint, followed by cocoa. Sugar is not an important source of carbon footprint. From the perspective of deforestation, milk powder has in any case a high carbon footprint and therefore. Therefore whether the concentrated feed given to the dairy cows to complement their diet based on grass and hay comes from deforestation or not does not change a lot the overall carbon footprint of milk powder. For cocoa and sugar cane, if applying a shared-responsibility approach, contribution from deforestation can double or triple the overall carbon footprint of those products. In summary, for chocolate, if one wants a “sweet”, one will have a lower carbon footprint if minimizing dairy fraction and maximizing sugar fraction.

There is an increasing demand for LCA applied to the food and beverage sector. However, there is currently a major limitation to do so: the lack of consistent, up-to-date, comprehensive and transparent inventory data for food products and processes. Therefore, there is a need to develop such data to improve the accuracy of LCA in the food sector.

In this context, Quantis and Agroscope launched early 2012 the World Food LCA Database (WFLDB) project, in collaboration with, as of March 2013, ADEME, Bayer, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Mars, Mondelēz International, Monsanto, Nestlé, Syngenta and Yara. The WFLDB will be a comprehensive LCA food database providing detailed, reliable, and transparent high quality life cycle inventory data, including a consistent treatment of deforestation, while being in line with other databases.

This presentation shows that, if one wants to make reliable and sustainable decisions in the chocolate sector, it is important to have databases considering, in a consistent way, all types of major environmental impacts such as deforestation.