USA MARKET ACCESS REQUIREMENTS FOR COCOA

To sell your cocoa on the American market, you need to comply with American market access requirements. These requirements can vary from national legislation to common buyer preferences.

Legal requirements

The most important legislation you must comply with is on Food Safety. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the import of human food products like cocoa into the USA. It requires imported foods to be pure, wholesome, safe to eat and produced under sanitary conditions.

For more effective inspections and/or examinations, the FDA must receive Prior Notice of Imported Foods. It requires Food Facility Registration for most facilities that manufacture, process, pack, receive or hold food, including foreign manufacturers.

The FDA also monitors pathogens, natural toxins, pesticides and other contaminants in food products. It assesses potential exposure and risk to prevent foodborne illness and reduce health risks.

Prepared cocoa products should be labelled according to US Nutrition Labeling law. These labels must be informative and truthful, with the labelling information in English or in the predominant language of a U.S. territory where the language is one other than English.

 

Additional requirements

In addition to legislation, American buyers often have non-legal requirements. Especially regarding food safety, environmental impact and social responsibility.

A common additional requirement is Food Safety Certification. For processors, this usually means a HACCP-based food safety management system. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognises several of these systems for you to chose from. Producers should follow good agricultural practices to ensure food safety, usually by obtaining GLOBALG.A.P certification. This covers all stages of production, from pre-harvest activities like soil management to post-harvest handling, packaging and storage.

To address social and environmental issues, American companies may require Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies. These generally include health and safety, business ethics and social responsibility requirements. Your buyer can require you to comply with their company’s CSR-policy, or adhere to common industry codes like ISO140001 or SA8000.

American companies also increasingly value sustainability, leading them to require Sustainability Certification. There are several sustainability certification schemes, but for cacao UTZ and the Rain Forest Alliance are the most common. There are also sector specific initiatives for sustainable cacao production and trade, like the International Cocoa Organisation’s International Cocoa Agreement 2010.

Meeting these additional requirements isn’t mandatory, but can increase your chances on the market considerably.

Niche market requirements

If you can produce organic and/or Fair Trade cocoa these American niche markets may provide interesting opportunities. Organic cocoa requires natural production and processing techniques like crop rotation, biological crop protection, green manure and compost. For Fair Trade cocoa you need to establish fair, reliable and predictable contract arrangements along the entire supply chain.

To supply these niche markets, you need to obtain Organic and/or Fair Trade Certification, like USDA Organic and UNWTO.

Want to know more?

Would you like to know more about American market access requirements for cocoa? You can read all about them in the FDA’s Food Section, including tips and guidance documents!

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