22 December 2022

EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products: Operational Guidance for Cocoa Producers and Importers

EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products: Operational Guidance for Cocoa Producers and Importers

To be ‘deforestation-free’, and to be placed on the EU market, cocoa must have been produced on land that has not been subject to deforestation after 31 December 2020. Additionally, to be compliant with the upcoming EU regulation, cocoa must have been produced in accordance with the relevant legislation of the country of production. Thus, to evidence compliance with these requirements, cocoa operators and traders must set up and implement a Deforestation Due Diligence (DDD) process. 

This operational guidance summarises what cocoa supply chain companies will need to do to meet the regulation requirements. It is available in English and French and, tailored for the latin american context, a version in Spanish. For each step of the DDD process the operational guidance explains:

  • the related main requirements from the upcoming EU regulation on deforestation-free products, 

  • the capacity of existing tools and approaches to support meeting these requirements, 

  • the implementation challenges and opportunities of these requirements. 

Beyond the practical and actionable steps that are proposed, the document also illustrates how a smart mix of existing tools and approaches can be used by cocoa producers and importers to implement the EU regulation on deforestation-free products.  

In addition to this operational guidance, Proforest has developed a complementary reference document that is more detailed and extensive. It contains additional details and supporting information.  


  1. As the regulation is still being developed, this guidance is aimed at supporting companies but can’t guarantee compliance. It is not an official guidance for compliance with the regulation that is approved by the EU Commission. 

  2. This document was finalised in early December 2022, and therefore is not based on the latest version of the regulation published on 21st of December 2022. This latest version is the preliminary political agreement between the EU Parliament and the EU Council. However, this is not the final text and it is currently still in the process of technical corrections and may experience small changes.  

  3. Proforest will update the document once the regulation is finalised. The tentative entry into force of the regulation is May-June 2023, and consequently the entry into application is December 2024 for non-SMEs and June 2025 for SMEs. So far, and based on the latest version of the regulation available, the main changes / additions needed to be incorporated in the next version of the guidance that we foresee are: 

- Information collection 
  • For commodities other than cattle, for plots of land of more than 4 hectares, the geographical location shall be provided using polygons. For plots of land less than 4 hectares, points can be provided.  

  • The product description shall include the list of relevant commodities or products contained therein or used to make those products. In cases where the product contains commodities produced in several different plots of land, the geolocation of all different plots of land shall be included. 

- Definitions 
  • Agricultural plantations: the definition now includes that agricultural plantations are excluded from the definition of ‘forest’ 

  • Negligible risk: Definition strengthened to make it clearer, e.g. included a reference to showing no cause for concern for not being compliant with Articles 3(a) and 3(b) 

  • Relevant legislation of the country of production now includes labour rights, human rights protected under international law, FPIC, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, tax, anti-corruption regulations 

  • New definitions included such as forest degradation 

- Due diligence obligations 
  • Under certain conditions, operators can be exempted from the obligation to exercise due diligence for relevant products that have already undergone due diligence and for which a due diligence statement was already submitted 

  • To qualify for simplified due diligence (which applies to products coming from low risk countries), operators must now also demonstrate that there is a negligible risk of circumvention or of mixing with products of unknown origin or origin in high risk or standard risk countries or parts thereof. 

- Checks
  • Reduction of the % of products checked annually depending on risk level identified via the country benchmarking exercise.

This video was produced in collaboration with Asunafo Cocoa Farmers, Cargill and Mondelēz International to demonstrate how this guidance can be useful to the different actors in the cocoa supply chain. Available in English, French, Spanish and Mandarin.

Categories: Supporting companies Cocoa

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