With Easter around the corner, and the eggs piling sky-high in the supermarkets, have you ever considered how MUCH chocolate we are actually consuming? The UK Easter Egg market alone sells over £220 million worth every year and the production of the famous ‘chocolate egg’ is continuously growing. In 2016, the global chocolate industry was worth around £150 billion with some of the biggest and most favoured chocolate manufacturers such as Mars (US), Nestlé (Switzerland), Mondelez (US), Hershey’s (US), Ferrero (Italy) and Lindt (Switzerland) accounting for at least 40% of the market.
Cadbury’s claim that their very own Cadbury's Creme Egg is by far their best seller and over 500 million are made each year - with the UK consuming around two thirds of that figure alone! Cadbury’s are one of the world’s best-selling chocolate brands and manufacture in over 15 different countries around the globe. They state that every year over 80 million chocolate Easter eggs are sold, with this number increasing each time Easter rolls around. What’s more, is that this huge number does not even include sales figures of the famous Creme Egg & Mini Eggs!
In fact, since the year 2000, the demand for chocolate and cocoa production globally increased from 2,858 tonnes to nearly double (4,552 tonnes) in 2017.
With the demand for chocolate at a record high, have you ever stopped to consider what happens behind the scenes in the production of chocolate? Or what the negative impacts are to the environment or how they affect the lives of cocoa farmers who cultivate the products?
Underpaid and overworked cocoa farmers, forced child labour, poverty and deforestation are just some of the concerns that the cocoa farmers face every day. The bulk of the world’s cocoa is grown on small family farms by approximately 6 million farmers and for most, this is their only option to make a living. These farmers have little to no say in most matters regarding the price they can sell their cocoa beans for as the large manufacturers often dictate this. Regardless of who they sell to, farmers often struggle to make enough money to support their families as the majority of the profit goes to retailers and branded manufacturers.
This issue has worsened over the years: in the 1980’s, when cocoa prices were high, farmers received approximately 16% of the value of a chocolate bar. Today, they receive approximately just 6% or less, with manufacturers and retailers splitting the rest of the profit.
Due to the lack of financial rewards for a cocoa farmer, very few young people want to join or remain within this profession - the typical age of a cocoa farmer averages around 50 years of age. This issue means that practices such as forced child labour are introduced in order to increase and stabilise production to meet the extensive market demand.
Many farmers also believe that soil in areas of recent deforestation cause cocoa beans to grow larger, and as a result more trees are being cut down so that they can expand their production. This is posing a major detriment to forests, especially in countries such as Ghana or the Ivory Coast where deforestation is now occurring at a much higher rate than any other African country.
The cocoa extracted from beans grown in areas of illegal deforestation is known as ‘dirty’ cocoa. Unfortunately this is an included ingredient in many of the eggs you buy on the shelves today, and it is often mixed with ‘clean’ cocoa by the farmers.
The best way to try and combat not only deforestation but also exploited farmers and children forced into work within the cocoa industry, is to ensure a fair wage and support for cocoa farmers.
A good, and indeed, the best known way to do this is to buy Fairtrade chocolate.
Fairtrade aims to make cocoa farming more sustainable by providing those who farm cocoa sustainably and responsibly with certification to produce and sell Fairtrade cocoa. Fairtrade includes a premium of $200 per tonne which farmers can use to invest in their businesses or local community. In addition to this, Fairtrade also provides essential training and support to the farmers including assisting them to negotiate the best rates with traders.
Purchasing Fairtrade chocolate really does help to make cocoa farming in places like Ghana and the Ivory Coast more sustainable and helps to provide a better future for the farmers themselves, their families, local communities and the environment.
If you’re still not convinced that Fairtrade are doing enough to support cocoa farmers, then why not consider Taza Chocolate, who are slightly different to your usual chocolatier?
Co-founder Alex Whitmore and his wife, Kathleen Fulton launched the Taza Brand in 2005. Firstly Taza work with Cacao as opposed to Cocoa - yes they are different! Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can eat and is less processed than cocoa powder.
Taza were the first U.S. chocolate makers to establish a 3rd party certified Direct Trade Cacao Certification program. What this means is that they maintain a direct relationship with their cacao farmers and pay a premium above the Fairtrade price for their cacao. They partner only with the cacao producers who respect the rights of workers and the environment.
From farm to factory, Taza make stone ground chocolate that is good and fair. They refuse to work with middlemen during the supply chain process as well as abusive labour practises, and with the program in place, they ensure quality and transparency. They have genuine, face-to-face relationships with the growers, who in return provide Taza with the best organic cacao.
“We believe both farmer and chocolate maker should share the reward of making a great product” - Alex Whitmore, co-founder of Taza Chocolate
Aside from Taza Chocolate and the wonderful things they do, we've carefully chosen our top 3 favourite Fairtrade Easter eggs and here are the reasons why:
Green and Blacks originally were founded on Portobello Road by husband and wife, Craig Sams and Jo Fairley. The meaning behind the name ‘Green & Blacks’ comes from their desire and commitment to ethically source cocoa and provide high quality, delicious chocolate. Green and Blacks Velvet Edition Cocoa is sourced through Cocoa Life - a program that is in partnership with Fairtrade. Launched in 2012, the program aims to invest $400m by 2022 to empower 200,000 cocoa farmers and their communities.
Divine Chocolate is the only mainstream chocolate company which is 100% Fairtrade and 44% is owned by the Farmers who supply its cocoa – so profits are shared as well as receiving the Fairtrade price for their cocoa. With this in place, it supports farmers to have a stronger voice in the cocoa industry and to achieve additional income to invest their community. Established in 1998 with its shares split between 3 different parties, today Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ cooperative is now given a 45% stake in the company.
The Meaningful Chocolate Co contains Fairtrade Certified ingredients, meaning the farmers and growers receive a fairer price for their sugar and cocoa and receive an extra Fairtrade Premium cash payment. The Real Easter Egg is the only chocolate egg on the market which has an Easter story book in the box to reintroduce how Easter originally began. Since launching in 2010, they have donated nearly £250,000 from their sales to charitable causes.
So this year, why not make a change by buying Fairtrade chocolate eggs, not only will they be just as delicious, but it will have a much greater impact on others across the globe and will help to make a difference in more ways than one!
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