Belgium-based retailer Colruyt is aiming to have all its own-label chocolate sourced sustainably within the next year.

By June 2017, Colruyt’s chocolates and products containing chocolate will be UTZ-certified. The move amounts to over 170 Everyday and Boni Selection labels, Colruyt said.

The retailer said its main objective is to encourage sustainable cocoa production “and contribute to improving the living conditions of small farmers who are the essence of this sector”.

Stefan Goethaert, a director for Colruyt’s fine food range in charge of product sustainability, said: “By making an effort for sustainable development, small farmers can improve their productivity, hence their revenue by applying environment-friendly criteria. That is the direction we have chosen. Within a year, all our Everyday and Boni Selection articles containing chocolate will be UTZ-certified.”

Goethaert said the move represented 139 permanent products and 35 seasonal sweets such as Easter eggs.

Astrid Baeten, sustainable sourcing project manager at Colruyt, said the retailer had opted for UTZ certification for a number of reasons.

“Once the certification is set up, the cooperative (or other body of shape) provides technical support to its small cocoa farmers. They learn new methods and improve their production in quantity and quality. So they sell more beans and at a better price,” Baeten said. “Socially, UTZ prohibits child labor work and emphasizes the seasonal working conditions. The ecological, the program pays particular attention to the management of soil, water and waste and the fight against deforestation.”