Tracking Fairtrade Cocoa

The Fairtrade Foundation was pleased to be able to take part in an item broadcast by BBC Watchdog on Wednesday, 10 October to explain the way we track cocoa from Fairtrade farmers.

The chocolate industry is currently not always able to keep Fairtrade cocoa and non-Fairtrade cocoa separate at every stage of production from the cocoa field to the final bar. Cocoa beans are delivered in bulk by farmers and routinely mixed during shipping and in the manufacturing process.

Rather than not engaging with the chocolate industry and losing Fairtrade sales opportunities for thousands of small farmers, Fairtrade has set up a system to ensure that chocolate manufacturers that want to use the FAIRTRADE Mark must buy the precise amount of cocoa they need from Fairtrade farmers that will be used in their final product. This system is often referred to as "mass balance". 

So, if a chocolate bar uses 500 tonnes of cocoa, then they must purchase 500 tonnes of cocoa on Fairtrade terms, including the payment of an additional $200 Fairtrade Premium per tonne. This means that even if the beans are later mixed with non-Fairtrade beans - as often happens - Fairtrade cocoa farmers still get 100% of the benefits, and the better deal that the FAIRTRADE Mark stands for. 

Research shows that this is what consumers care most about: that every Fairtrade chocolate bar they buy helps deliver a better deal to Fairtrade farmers and workers in the cocoa industry. 

The Fairtrade Foundation’s mission is to support farmers and workers in the developing world to increase their share in global trade.  Fairtrade’s stringent inspection and audit system is in place to ensure the amount of Fairtrade chocolate manufactured exactly matches the amount of Fairtrade cocoa purchased. 

We have worked hard on our rules for messaging on packaging to reflect the new system, in line with trading standards and EU Directives.

We also work with chocolate manufacturers to increase their purchases on Fairtrade terms with this arrangement. Just four years ago, only 1% of all chocolate sold in the UK was Fairtrade, now it is 12%. That is making a huge difference to cocoa farmers in being able to tackle the problems and poverty they experience. But we need to go further. The more we demand Fairtrade chocolate, the more Fairtrade cocoa beans the companies will be encouraged to purchase, ensuring more benefits to farmers and more sales of Fairtrade cocoa.

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For more information please contact:

Eileen Maybin
Head of Media Relations
020 7440 7686/07770 957 451