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Can Barry Callebaut Attract Sustainable Investment with its ‘Forever Chocolate’ Strategy?


Barry Callebaut, a Zurich-based chocolate and cocoa manufacturer founded by Klaus Johann Jacobs in 1996, was the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products. It was one of the first companies to realize that it had to do something about the poor conditions on cocoa farms. In its ‘Forever Chocolate’ plan for 2025, Callebaut committed to scale up its own as well as the industry initiatives to raise industry standards through its four bold targets in the chocolate supply chain. In 2017, the Swiss chocolate giant entered into an innovative revolving credit facility agreement with a syndicate of 13 banks with ING as the sustainability coordinator. As part of this, interest rate was linked to the company’s year-on-year sustainability performance improvement. Callebaut was confident that it could reach its sustainability goals, working with all the stakeholders in the cocoa supply chain, by translating its sustainability targets into a clear set of key performance indicators, and by monitoring and reporting on the progress on an annual basis. However, it was not easy for the company to drive growth on the sustainability front as it faced difficulties in managing consistency in its sustainable growth over the years. Industry observers were skeptical about Callebaut’s long-term sustainability goals and questioned whether these could help generate fund flow to the company.

This case gives students an opportunity to analyze the potential impact of sustainability investment on the company’s strategy and performance and helps them to discuss the possibilities of further investment with the company to achieve its cocoa sustainability goals. This case is meant for MBA level students as part of their Sustainable Finance and Financial Management curriculum. This case is designed to enable students to: 1) Understand Callebaut’s strategic position as a global leader in cocoa sustainability and how this helped it to attract green loans; 2) Evaluate how the Triple Bottom Line ethos of the company creates value for its stakeholders and examine how the sustainability initiatives of the company help in strengthening its liquidity profile; 3) Study and examine how the sustainability performance by the company attracted innovative revolving credit facility linked to its sustainability performance; 4) Analyze how Callebaut can manage its business growth effectively with the underlying objective of achieving sustainability; and 5) Understand the key concern for Callebaut – how can it impress investors to go in for cocoa financing and achieve the sustainability targets.

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