Economic Geography Research Group

Fostering research in Economic Geography

Download Working Paper 04.07 (PDF, 95KB).

2007 Annual Symposium Papers

Working Paper 04.07

Drivers and barriers to sustainable purchasing practices in the cocoa sector

David Phillips and Anne Tallontire


Since the emergence of numerous initiatives that challenge conventional tropical commodity trading, sustainability in the sourcing and supply of cocoa is an area of growing concern for both the cocoa producing countries and the chocolate manufacturing industry. Currently enforced industry sustainability practices (such as those of the WCF and ICIi) do not necessarily include sustainable purchasing practices. To promote sustainable purchasing practices, therefore, there is a requirement for a better understanding of the roles, responsibilities, and motivations of key stakeholders in cocoa value chains. Through an analysis of key informant interviews and a review of key literature, this paper highlights a growing consensus among the key stakeholders involved in cocoa trade on principles underlying sustainable purchasing practices. However, the investigation highlights a number of real and perceived barriers to wider adoption of these recognised practices. This suggests a need for the creation of further regulatory and commercial drivers such as support for extending 'alternative' trading and pilot projects to build on initiatives that demonstrate that best practice in purchasing can meet economic, social, and environmental aims.