Milk is a common ingredient in chocolate products, but many of us don't think about the dairy in our chocolate or where that milk came from. Dairy production has grave impacts on dairy cows and their calves, as well as on the environment and the climate. However, the chocolate industry is not transparent about how much milk is sourced for its products--estimates range in the millions of ton of milk annually.
The FOUR PAWS Chocolate Challenge, which is part of the Atlas Challenge ranking series, focuses on the welfare of cows in the production chains of this industry, as well as the contribution of the sourced dairy to the climate crisis. FOUR PAWS analyzed the product portfolio, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies and marketing strategies of chocolate companies to see if they are aware of its impact and whether they have measures and goals in place to lower them.
By assessing the level of effort and performance of 18 chocolate companies within the United States, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, FOUR PAWS shows where these companies stand and encourages them to reassess their policies and strategies to highlight and implement dairy reduction as part of their animal welfare and climate action goals.
How do your favorite chocolate brands compare?
The FOUR PAWS Chocolate Challenge ranking is based on FOUR PAWS' assessment on publicly available information online, as well as on the input received by some of the responsive companies, regarding their dairy reduction strategies that includes animal welfare and climate protection measures. The reduction of dairy products and the availability of plant-based alternatives are key to helping end the suffering of factory-farmed dairy cows in industrial keeping systems and in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
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The FOUR PAWS Chocolate Challenge Report
You can find the full report here
- Approximately 270 million dairy cows are kept worldwide1.
- Milk chocolate can be made vegan thanks to plant-based milks and nut butters.
- A vegan ‘milk’ chocolate bar can have 18% lower carbon footprint than its conventional dairy counterpart2.
- There are no animal welfare certifications for chocolate that are in accordance with high welfare husbandry systems.
- Up to 12,000 liters of milk a year are given by high performance cows. This physical performance with inappropriate diet is comparable to a top athlete who must run a marathon every day3.
- Frightening fact: Advertisements often show pictures of cows on lush meadows. Do not be misled by this: Very few dairy cows ever see a pasture!
- Cow’s milk emits roughly two to four times as many GHG as plant-based milks, and uses a tenfold of land, an average of 3.5 times more freshwater and causes at least double the eutrophication4.
2. KitKat® Vegan | Breaks For Good. [accessed 2023 Feb 6]. https://www.kitkat.co.uk/vegan
3. Dr. Joep Diessen (Founder of the program CowSignals) https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=658750714235804
4. Dairy vs. plant-based milk: what are the environmental impacts? Our World in Data. [accessed 2023 Feb 6]. https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impact-milks