A cocoa prize that enables a good future – the reality in the largest cocoa-growing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana, unfortunately looks different from this simple wish: “The world market price is too low to provide a living income. On top of that, the farmers’ plots under cultivation are small and yields are low,” explains Anne Marie Yao, Cocoa Manager of Fairtrade Africa, at the ISM confectionery trade fair. In addition to poverty, climate change and the migration of young people are endangering the cocoa supply chains. For more sustainability in their supply chains, more and more companies are sourcing Fairtrade cocoa and it’s becoming increasingly important in Germany. According to initial projections, sales in 2019 will grow by 28 percent to around 70,0000 tonnes of Fairtrade cocoa; a market share of 15 percent.
Despite its success, Fairtrade demands legislation for human rights due diligence: “Partners who commit themselves to sustainability have higher costs and a competitive disadvantage; it’s not fair”, said TransFair CEO Dieter Overath. “It’s time for politicians to promote sustainable products and ethical consumption and to ensure fair competition in the interest of the weakest. “
Beyond certification – long term projects to empower small holder farmers
Lidl gives an example on what long-term commitment on the ground could look like: in cooperation with the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the discounter set up the PROCACAO agricultural school in Ivory Coast which after eight years is now working independently. More than 18,000 farmers have been trained in sustainable cocoa farming, have been able to increase their yields significantly and pass on the knowledge they have acquired. Together with Fairtrade, Lidl has started a long-term project in Ghana in which the cocoa supply chain for chocolate bars is physically traceable. “Our commitment in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana helps to make supply chains more transparent and fairer,” says Florian Schütze, Authorised Representative CSR Purchasing at Lidl International. “In order to achieve long-term improvements, Lidl made a voluntary commitment during the International Green Week in January to secure a living income in the supply chains of its private labels.”
Trees as a bulwark against climate change
The price pressure not only has a negative effect on people. More than 90 per cent of West Africa’s primeval forests have disappeared. They fell victim to cocoa cultivation, among other things. To counteract the destruction, the Swiss chocolate manufacturer Chocolats Halba, together with Fairtrade Africa and other partners, has launched a project in Ghana. 2,500 farmers are being supported in converting their cocoa monocultures into biologically diverse agroforestry plots. Over the next three years, 400 hectares of cocoa plantations will be upgraded with fruit trees, precious woods and crops such as beans and corn. “The method of dynamic agroforestry cultivation can significantly increase the productivity of cocoa plantations. On the same plot of land, farmers can grow food and precious woods, which contributes significantly to increasing their income, climate resilience and forest preservation,” says Petra Heid, Head of Sustainability Chocolats Halba/Sunray.
Diverse problems need diverse solutions
Anne Marie Yao of Fairtrade Africa confirms that various approaches are needed to improve the situation: “Our aim is to diversify cultivation so that people can generate income beyond cocoa. Through trainings we raise awareness for child protection and actively involve young people actively in the process. We also specifically train women, as they are often the most vulnerable ones, working the most and receiving the lowest income”.
Yao appeals to the confectionery industry, politicians and consumers to commit to Fairtrade: “The minimum price provides for stability and planning security. The Fairtrade premium contributes to implementing community-based projects.” Fairtrade welcomes the announcement by Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to introduce a state premium (Living Income Differential) for cocoa. “This is a good initiative of which all farmers, including non-certified ones, could benefit,” says Yao.
Fairtrade sugar and honey
Sales of Fairtrade sugar and honey are growing. In total, around 11,700 tonnes of Fairtrade sugar were used in Germany in 2019, an increase of 17 per cent,of which half is sold as household sugar and half is processed into soft drinks, ice cream and confectionery. Fairtrade honey sales rose by eight percent to 1,400 tonnes.
As a new partner, Zentis is launching products with Fairtrade cocoa this year. The advertising industry is increasingly relying on fair trade cocoa, including CD-Lux, Kalfany Süße Werbung, Vogel’s Süße Werbe Ideen or Jung Since 1828.