More sustainable cocoa processed

© Hollandse Hoogte
An increasingly large proportion of cocoa purchased by Dutch cocoa processing companies is certified sustainable according to the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The share rose from 21 percent in 2014 to 30 percent in 2016. This is evident from a survey on the use of certified sustainable cocoa by cocoa processing companies in the Netherlands, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CSB) and commissioned by the Ministry.


In 2016, the Netherlands purchased 600 million kilograms of cocoa beans and 100 kilograms of cocoa products for processing purposes. The Netherlands is a major importer of cocoa beans; one-fifth of the beans entering the global market are Dutch imports.

The imported cocoa beans are processed into semi-finished products such as cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder by a handful of large holdings. The majority of these semi-finished products are exported. The remainder is processed into end products by chocolate manufacturers, bakeries and other food producers, also partly destined for export.

Infographic, Cocoa production chain

Survey among cocoa processing companies

In order to gain more insight into the choice of Dutch companies for sustainable cocoa, CBS conducted a survey at the end of 2016 and start of 2017 among cocoa processing companies in the Netherlands. The participating companies process an estimated 85 to 95 percent of the total amount of cocoa beans and 45 to 55 percent of the total amount of cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder in the Netherlands. Around 60 percent of all end products that can be found on supermarket shelves come from companies that participated in the survey. As a result, they provide an accurate picture of the purchasing and use of (sustainable) cocoa.

Out of the participating companies, 8 in 10 indicated they import cocoa with sustainability certification. In 60 percent of these cases, this involved an approved sustainability certificate.

Processors of cocoa (beans)28
Chocolate manufacturers46

Mainly large holdings purchasing certified cocoa

The share of certified sustainable cocoa purchased varies between the branches of industry. In 2016, it was nearly 30 percent among companies processing cocoa beans into cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder, versus around 45 percent among chocolate manufacturers and bakeries. Large holdings in particular purchase certified sustainable cocoa.

Of the Dutch companies that process cocoa into food products, 27 percent reported in 2016 that they only purchase certified sustainable cocoa.

 Sustainable volume (approved and non-approved)Non-sustainable volume
Consumers (direct)61.7138.29
Other retail53.1246.88

Sustainable cocoa relatively often in supermarket

The channels through which food products reach consumers have been studied. Of all cocoa incorporated into food products by the participating companies in 2016, 70 percent was exported while one-quarter ended up in a Dutch supermarket. Of the cocoa incorporated into the food products available at supermarkets, 86 percent was sustainable, while almost all of it had approved sustainability certification.