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Benchmarking Traceability and EUDR Compliance Solutions For Cocoa

Updated: Apr 8

Last updated: April 8, 2024


Deforestation in the Amazon (Wikimedia Commons)

How to cite

Martin, Carla D., Charles Angebault and Julien Gonnet. “Benchmarking Traceability and EUDR Compliance Solutions For Cocoa.” Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute and Nitidæ, April 8, 2024, https://www.chocolateinstitute.org/post/benchmarking-traceability-and-eudr-compliance-solutions-for-cocoa.

How to contact the authors

contact [at] chocolateinstitute [dot] org

What this is

We created this preliminary benchmarking of traceability and EUDR compliance solutions to support cocoa producers, cooperatives and associations, and exporters to critically compare existing solutions. NGOs, development and civil society organizations, governments, private companies, and consultants might also find this instructive, though we strongly encourage them to prioritize solutions that are chosen with the input of cocoa-producing organizations themselves. Our focus in this exercise, composed of this blog post and the embedded Google Sheet, is on applications and services that have specific, ongoing experience with data collection and reporting in cocoa supply chains. In the rapidly changing landscape of reporting requirements and technological evolution, our hope is that this benchmarking will provide useful context while simultaneously reducing the labor needed for cocoa supply chain actors to identify solutions that meet their needs.





How we did it

Following a cursory review of solutions in 2023, we devoted significant effort over three months from January to March 2024, to carefully analyzing potential solutions for cocoa traceability and EUDR compliance reporting. We attended demonstrations, interviewed developers, analyzed websites, tested tools, and discussed use cases with current users. We compared solutions across several priority categories described below. A pre-assessment of 30 solutions* allowed us to reduce the list to the 17 solutions presented in this benchmarking, highlighting those solutions that have documented experience navigating the complexity of the cocoa supply chain.** The resulting Google Sheet comparison represents the most updated information available to us as of Q2 2024. Due to the fast-moving nature of EUDR requirements and solution updates to address these, the presence or absence of specific functionalities in solutions are at risk of becoming obsolete in a short time. This exercise aims to provide benchmarking based on a snapshot in time. We are committed to updating this Google Sheet periodically until the end of Q4 of 2024 and will reevaluate the need for updates in 2025 as well. The most recent date of update will always be specified.

 

Our focus

Drawing on extensive conversations with our colleagues in academia and industry, especially those impacted by traceability and EUDR compliance requirements at the cocoa production and exportation levels, we developed the following list of criteria through which to evaluate solutions. These criteria represent individual columns in the Google Sheet and are described below:

 

  • Description: Business background, philosophy, funding, location, and model (e.g. for-profit or not-for-profit)

  • Focus: What the solution claims it does, e.g. is it suitable for first mile traceability data collection, EUDR compliance, and/or ESG compliance? These might not be the only capabilities that a solution offers, but they are the focus of this benchmarking exercise

  • Polygon mapping: Capacity for polygon collection, either in-app or provided by the user

  • Satellite verification: Capacity to, using GIS and polygon data, monitor and assess deforestation risk with satellite verification

  • Survey capability: Capacity to collect survey data from supply chain actors, e.g. for ESG compliance or monitoring and evaluation

  • B2C QR / bar code: Capability to offer a QR or bar code through which data on the supply chain, such as provenance or what prices are paid, can be viewed by clients or consumers

  • Security: Compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); and, for privacy reasons, the solution guarantees the confidentiality of data all along the value chain

  • Interoperability: Ability to exchange with other applications via API either upstream or downstream

  • End-to-end traceability: Capability for traceability of some or all of the supply chain, and whether it is blockchain-enabled or otherwise (note that blockchain does not appear to be a requirement of EUDR compliance, and the necessity of its presence or absence should be discussed as part of an organization’s critical analysis of solutions)

  • Target customers: Target customers for the solution as defined by the provider

  • Languages: Current languages in which the solution is available (note that some solutions can be made available in other languages in a short period of time)

  • Support: Availability of technical support, user manuals, training videos, or field trainings

  • Producer-friendly mobile app: Existence of a tested, functional producer-friendly mobile app for Android with offline data collection mode

  • Pricing: As available, details about potential cost of buildout, implementation, maintenance, and recurring use. When possible, we provide an estimate of technical cost as Low, Medium, or High, where Low = < US $10,000, Medium = US $10,000-$40,000, High = > US $40,000

  • Timeline: Estimated timeline to deploy the tool in a technical sense, not including time necessary for training and/or piloting and implementation within a supply chain

  • Use cases: Organizational listing of publicly available use cases. These use cases can be helpful in understanding regional expertise of solutions, types of organizations that choose these solutions, and more

 

How to use the Google Sheet

Many possible approaches exist to use of this spreadsheet. We propose the following:

  1. First, determine the need a solution should fill for an organization: first mile traceability, EUDR compliance, ESG compliance, or a combination of these.

  2. Second, review the solutions that meet the specific need determined, comparing them with the other criteria that matter for the needs of the organization in question (e.g. training, pricing, timeline). Use Google Sheets Filter views as desired.

  3. Third, narrow down the solutions to those that appear to best match the needs of the organization and schedule demos, meetings, costing activities, pilots, or more as appropriate. Reach out to current users for their feedback.

 

A few things to keep in mind

  • First mile traceability means different things to different solution providers: Some solutions have a very specific capacity to offer detailed, module-based data capture and visualization. This varies widely. It can cover operations (typically first mile supply chain mapping, farmer profiling, field mapping, and audits such as certification and verification of ESG compliance) and traceability (price and product tracking through the chain, stock management, and processing). Some solutions may cover only some of the above possibilities, and even within these possibilities offer a limited list of capabilities.

  • EUDR compliance means different things to different solution providers: Some solutions are strictly focusing on data aggregation and reporting (without first mile traceability), with varying degrees of risk assessment or verification possible.

  • In many cases, an organization will require the use of one, two, or three digital solutions to meet the specific reporting requirements of regulations and/or partners.

  • Critical analysis of solutions can be done to compare solutions, but also to identify the complementarities between/among solutions.

 

Why we did this

While the exact details of how EUDR requirements will unfold remain unclear and much of the burden of documentation will fall on companies importing to the EU, the impact of this regulation on smallholder cocoa producers is grievously understudied. To the best of our knowledge, no impact studies were conducted by the EU prior to developing the regulation, and only a very small number of area- and commodity-specific studies have been conducted by academics and NGOs (e.g. this one on cocoa and timber in Cameroon or this one on cocoa and coffee in Peru). One thing is clear: smallholder cocoa producers are at risk of being excluded from EU markets if the traders selling their cocoa in 2025 cannot provide the necessary data to prove that their cocoa production was not linked to deforestation after December 2020.

 

Researchers and practitioners like us have been contacted by dozens of cocoa-producing and exporting organizations seeking advice on how to adapt to the developing panorama of traceability and EUDR compliance needs. Most cocoa-producing organizations currently lack the tools to collect and transmit GPS traceability data through the supply chain, as well as the widespread digital fluency necessary to adopt them should they become available. Additionally, the vast majority of cocoa-producing organizations have not been properly informed about what is expected of them in relation to new and upcoming regulations.

 

The proliferation of solutions in a range of states of readiness, consultancies with varying levels of expertise on these solutions, and, ultimately, ballooning costs related to implementing these solutions requires a coordinated response to the growing information inequity in this space. This is our first attempt at such an effort.

 

We invite researchers and organizations that would like to collaborate on making more efforts like this possible to reach out to us directly. We likewise invite potential users to reach out to us directly with suggestions for how a solutions analysis might be made more effective for their needs.***

 

What stands out to us

We estimate conservatively that, of the 17 solutions we compare here, more than 75 million dollars have been invested in their development by venture capital firms, private investors, foundations, and NGOs. Only 4 of these solutions are headquartered outside of Europe or the United States. Only 3 are not-for-profit. Only 1 offers open-source code. Accounting for the cost of implementation, training, and maintenance of these solutions by their users would quickly expand that 75 million dollar figure to one much larger, and inevitably reflects significant investment of funds of development organizations, governments, NGOs, and producing and exporting organizations. These solution providers constitute a well-financed technocratic class of operators in the cocoa supply chain, with yet unproven impact. Further research is necessary to determine whether this is the best use of resources toward solving wicked problems.

  

Who did this

This resource was produced by Carla D. Martin, PhD (Lecturer, Harvard University and President of the Board, Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute), in collaboration with Julien Gonnet (Project Manager, Nitidæ) and Charles Angebault (Consultant in Traceability, Certification, and EUDR, Nitidæ). Summer Allen, PhD (Research Lead, Wedgetail and Senior Advisor, FCCI), also contributed research and advisory support.


The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute is an independent, non-profit (US 501(c)(3)), research organization recognized for its scholarly rigor and credibility. Since 2016, we have dedicated our work to reducing information asymmetry, promoting ethics, and ending inequality in the cacao and chocolate value chain through research and education.


Nitidæ, a non-profit association under the French law of 1901, was born from the merging of two associations (Etc Terra and Rongead) in December 2017. Its mission is to design, develop and lead projects that preserve the environment while contributing to the local economy.


Notes 

* The initial 30 solutions also included: BanQu, Connecting Food, Cropin, eprod, EOS Data Analytics, Kanop, ListenField Farm AI, LiveEO, osapiens, sourcemap, Technoserve’s app-in-development, Traser, and Tilkal. We removed these solutions from this benchmarking exercise not because we did not find value in what they offer, but rather because we could not readily find use cases of their application in cocoa. We learned of sourcemap and Tilkal use cases in cocoa only as we went to publication and plan to include these solutions in our next benchmarking. The absence of a solution from this list does not indicate a positive or negative assessment; it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated it.

 

** We do not include in this assessment digital cocoa marketplaces (e.g. African Cocoa Marketplace, Beyco, and Trusty), though these platforms engage with some of the traceability and EUDR compliance solutions analyzed.

 

*** In the interest of full transparency, the FCCI team is currently facilitating a pilot of INATrace with partners in Latin America. The Nitidæ team is currently exploring pilots of yet-to-be-determined tools with partners in West and Central Africa.


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