Leonie, from your point of view, what is the Farming Program particularly good at?
The basis of the Farming Program is a stable and traceable supply chain and long-term contracts – that makes the Program special. The aim of the Program is to create decent and resilient livelihoods for todays and future cocoa farmers, their families and communities, and to encourage more sustainable farming practices. From my perspective, the agility of the Farming Program is great; that we can adapt it to the local context of the respective origin country, since the challenges in West Africa are not comparable to those in South America. At the same time, we know we do not have universal knowledge, which is why it is important to continuously improve the Program based on new insights and data as well as partnerships with expert organizations.
Why did you decide to dedicate your career to the topic of sustainability?
Changing the world for the better has always been important to me – also beyond work. Justice is one of the values closest to my heart and a major driver. For me, this means that all people, but also animals and nature have the right to a good life. That's what I work for both professionally and privately. The private sector has a major responsibility in tackling the most pressing social and environmental challenges, which is highly motivating for me.
What do you like most about your job?
The diversity of my mostly cross-functional responsibilities, the constantly expanding range of topics I am dealing with, my great team, and that my job allows me to have a positive impact on the environment and nature while promoting change.
Which of our cocoa origin countries fascinates you the most and why?
Papua New Guinea. It is an incredibly diverse country with more than 800 languages and dialects spoken by the nearly nine million people in various ethnic groups. It is a country with a great variety of cultures and a fascinating biodiversity.
If you had the time, what would you like to try out?
I consider myself lucky that I was able to take short breaks during and after my time at university to discover and try out new things. Currently, I would like to do a long bike tour through Central Asia or Africa to discover remote places.
How would your dream guestlist for a dinner look like?
I would put together a very diverse group consisting of inspirational personalities.
- The British behavioral scientist Jane Goodall, because she gives a voice to those who do not have one and certainly has endless interesting stories to tell from her field visits.
- The businessman Paul Polman who transformed the definition of sustainability in the business world and has boldly stepped forward.
- Michelle Obama, who is a role model for many children, young adults and women, holds great values, and would probably also make the entire table laugh from time to time.
- My son, to gift him the opportunity to meet such inspiring and interesting people who would hopefully leave a lasting impression on him.
If you were a Lindt product, which one would it be and why?
Excellence Cacao Pur. A chocolate bar without caster sugar and milk that only consists of the cocoa bean and pulp, therefore leading to more income for cocoa farmers and less waste from the cocoa fruit. At first it seems very simple and unobtrusive but it is actually an innovative and impact-oriented product.
You've made great progress on sustainability in the past year, including integrating two new countries, Peru and Côte d'Ivoire, into the Farming Program. What does this mean to you and what is the next goal?
Our cocoa sustainability team has invested a lot of passion and energy into building the Farming Program in these two countries and I am very proud of them. We are now present in the largest origin country for cocoa, Cote d’Ivoire, and the second largest origin country of fine flavor cocoa, Peru. Consequently, we can reach even more farmers and communities with our activities.
With new experts on the team, we will continue to further improve impact measurement in order to make informed decisions for the development of the Farming Program. Additionally, we want to further strengthen the Program in agroforestry and forest protection. By 2025, we plan to source all our cocoa products, meaning beans, butter, powder, and for Russell Stover chocolate mass, through sustainability programs.