Working Groups & Task Forces
ECA Working Groups, Task Forces and participation in other forums
Working Groups (WGs) and Task Forces (TFs) are composed of ECA Members’ experts who deliver strong and clear industry positions that benefit all Members.
The ECA Food Safety Working Group addresses current and arising issues and monitors regulatory developments mainly concerning contaminants, pesticides and other matters of common interest. WG Members further provide their input to scientifically-sound statements (for internal use or customers), and to position papers addressed to the EU institutions. Within the WG, several Task Forces focus on specific issues, including Pesticides, Mineral Oils, Cadmium, and Acrylamide.
The Joint ECA-CAOBISCO Food Safety Working Group operates in cooperation between ECA and CAOBISCO experts, and meets twice a year. Technical in nature, this WG monitors regulatory developments connected to food safety. Activities of the Joint WG are complementary to those of the ECA WG on Food Safety, i.e. the discussion on arising threats and concerns and the development of Joint strategies and industry positions to be addressed to national, European and international authorities. This WG collaborates with ICCO, research institutes at EU and cocoa-producing country levels, and plant protection products manufacturers.
The Joint ECA-PFP (Primary Food Processors) Food Safety Working Group operates in cooperation between ECA and PFP experts, and meets twice a year. The topics that are being closely monitored by this WG are pesticides, heavy metals, mineral oils, and new breeding techniques.
The Joint ECA-CAOBISCO Quality & Productivity (Q&P) Working Group operates in cooperation between ECA and CAOBISCO experts, and meets twice a year. This WG tackles issues, such as breeding variety, off-flavours, moisture, free fatty acids mitigation, soil fertility, pest and disease management, and planting material.
The ECA Trade Working Group monitors developments regarding the EU trade policy, notably negotiations for Free Trade Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements, preferential tariff systems (Generalised System of Preferences), Rules of Origin, and WTO-specific dossiers. The WG also addresses non-tariff barriers (e.g. SPS issues and administrative requirements). Together, they establish a common European cocoa industry position and clearly communicate it to the European institutions.
The Joint ECA-PFP (Primary Food Processors) Trade Working Group operates in cooperation between ECA and PFP experts and monitors developments regarding the EU trade policy, notably on the Free Trade Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements.
The ECA Logistics Task Force monitors regulatory developments concerning Shipping and Warehousing, Port authorities, the EU initiatives on the decarbonization of the shipping industry and the IMO CO2 emissions reduction target.
The ECA Sustainability Working Group monitors developments connected to deforestation, labour-related matters in cocoa farming, due diligence regulation, sub-regional standard.
The ECA Standards/Certifications Working Group is actively engaged in the development of the CEN/ISO Standard, which aims to provide an incentive for farmers to produce cocoa in a sustainable way, while aligning the procedures and criteria of the leading sustainability initiatives to establish a single international standard of reference for future initiatives on cocoa sustainability.
The ECA Environment Working Group monitors developments regarding the EU climate and environmental policy, notably the EU Green Deal, Farm to Fork Strategy, Circular Economy Action Plan, Carbon Tax, Food Waste and Energy Efficiency.
The Joint ECA-PFP (Primary Food Processors) Environment Working Group operates in cooperation between ECA and PFP experts and monitors developments notably on the water framework directive and climate change.
The ECA Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Task Force has been active since 2014. The TF deals with voluntary vs. mandatory labelling of food products and monitors developments related to the EU regulatory measures which focus on reflecting consumers’ concerns regarding not only the origin and the quality of food, but also methods of production, labour conditions as well as climate/environmental related concerns (EU Green Deal and the carbon footprint).
The Joint Research Fund: ECA, CAOBISCO, and FCC (Federation of Cocoa Commerce) joined forces in 2013 for setting up this Fund, which is currently administered by ECA. The three associations are committed to working towards more sustainable cocoa whereby cocoa is safe for consumer consumption, complies with manufacturers’ quality requirements and meets the growing demand. Given deteriorating yields (current average cocoa yields are around 400kg/ha) and quality levels in several countries, the need to rehabilitate existing cocoa producing land (through planting material, fertilizers), and growing consumer interest in cocoa sustainability, the review of sustainable industry needs in terms of quality and productivity is a key priority.
On average, three projects (that typically run over a two to five year time-span) are administered and managed via the Fund at the same time.
Current and past projects include:
- Cocoa Bean Quality Requirements Guide (available here in English, French and Spanish) – completed
- Detection of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) – completed
- Research on the improvement of yield efficiency and resilience to climate change through better use of cocoa genetic resources (within the Collaborative Framework of Cacao Evaluation – CFCE): phase 1 completed – phase 2 underway
- Research on occurrence and mitigation of cadmium in cocoa: phase 1 completed – phase 2 underway
- Research on main sources of MOH contamination and entry points into the cocoa supply chain – underway
- To understand the genetic basis of resistance to VSD in cacao and to develop high-throughput DNA tools to permit Marker Assisted Selection – underway