Fairtrade is an essential organisation which works tirelessly to improve the lives of farmers around the world, ensuring that they receive a fair price for the products that they cultivate and sell. Fairtrade represents an easy way of making a difference to the prices and working conditions of those who live and work in developing countries. Fairtrade is a unique organisation which works with businesses campaigners and consumers, giving workers and farmers an equal say and empowering them to achieve more. Their mission is to create a world which allows every producer to secure a sustainable and secure livelihood, to fulfil their own potential and decide on their own future through the connection of consumers with disadvantaged producers, the promotion of fair trading conditions and the empowerment of producers to strengthen their own position, combat poverty and seize control over their own lives.
Fairtrade sets environmental, economic and social standards for workers, farmers and companies alike who work in the cultivation industry. These standards are designed to protect the environment and the rights of workers as well as to ensure the payment of minimum prices. Fairtrade certifies a number of ingredients and products after checking that their standards have been met by using a licensed trademark on their packaging and products. Part of Fairtrade’s work involves working with schemes that have already been set up by other companies such as supermarkets who are already trying to cater for shopper demand for sustainable products as well as lobbying government to demand fairer treatment of farmers who live in developing countries. Fairtrade also works directly with food producers on specific relevant issues such as tackling problems caused by climate change or helping women to receive a better deal. They also promote public awareness of exploitation and unfair trade around the world to increase the demand for sustainably sourced produce around the UK.
Life can be very difficult for cocoa farmers since recently the price given for cocoa beans has dropped despite the ongoing high demand. Age and disease are causing damage to cocoa trees and less younger people are choosing to take up cocoa farming as a career due to the limited financial prospects. Fairtrade aims to improve cocoa farming in locations such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast by guaranteeing a minimum price for produce and offering premiums for investment in local communities in order for farmers to offer a better financial future for farmers and farming families. Shoppers in the UK can help to support this aim by buying Fairtrade chocolate as well as other sustainable Fairtrade products.
Chocolate may be a favourite food around the world, however growing the raw ingredient, cocoa, is difficult. 90% of coca is grown on small farms by around 6 million family farmers who solely earn a living from selling and cultivating cocoa beans. Cocoa trees are grown in equatorial tropical climates, and the ideal environment is rainy, tropical and hot with plenty of vegetation which can offer shade to the cocoa trees. Most cocoa is grown in Latin America, Asia and Africa, with the largest amount coming from Cote D’Ivoire, the supplier of around 40% of the world’s total amount.
Cocoa is not easy to grow, being sensitive and delicate, and requiring protection from disease, pests, sun and wind. If cared for properly, a cocoa tree will yield pods at its peak level by the time it is 5 years of age and can continue at this level until it is 10. However despite all of their hard work, the world’s cocoa farmers gain little from a surprisingly profitable trade. The cost of cocoa beans internationally is rising thanks to the demand for cocoa around the world, and there is already potentially a shortfall in the long term global supply. With cocoa farmers these days having an average age of 50, it is easy to see why the industry is starting to worry about the future. Young people no longer want to work in the industry since cocoa farmers are traditionally poor since their income cannot compete with the rising cost of production and increase in household expenses. Fairtrade tries to make small farmers’ lives easier by offering a premium payment to encourage investment in community projects which enable local farmers to better provide for their families’ needs. Cocoa farmers earn around £8.4 million per year in premiums, with a quarter being directly invested in supporting farming families to meet their daily needs. By promoting the sale of sustainably and responsibly sourced products, Fairtrade is dedicated to raising living standards around the world.
There are many well known chocolate companies around the UK which offer Fairtrade products. Cadbury’s is probably the most famous of these, having been selling Fairtrade chocolate since 2009 and having been the first mainstream brand to display Fairtrade certification. Some of the other big UK names involved include M&S, who offer 8 different Fairtrade chocolate bars, Divine, a company which is 44% owned by cocoa farmers themselves, Green & Black’s, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and The Cooperative. There are also several less well known chocolate suppliers who offer Fairtrade products including Rawr, The Meaningful Chocolate Company and The Raw Chocolate Co, all of which take great pride is supplying the public with high quality, sustainably and responsibly sourced products.
The Chocolate Festival is proud to be associated with Fairtrade and only permits Fairtrade chocolate products to be used as part of the festival. Firmly committed to helping to improve the lives of those who produce the ingredients used in making one of the world’s favourite sweet treats, and determined to help disadvantaged farmers around the world to earn a living wage and to be able to support their families financially through the cultivation and supply of cocoa, The Chocolate Festival is keen to promote the purchasing of Fairtrade chocolate products by showcasing it as part of the festivities.