Chocolate is one of the world’s favourite foods but growing cocoa is a hard task. Fairtrade is helping to make it more sustainable.
Ninety per cent of the world’s cocoa is grown on small family farms by about 6 million farmers who earn their living from growing and selling cocoa beans.
Cocoa trees grow in tropical environments, within 15 to 20 degrees latitude from the equator. The ideal climate for growing cocoa is hot, rainy, and tropical, with lush vegetation to provide shade for the cocoa trees.
The primary growing regions are Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The largest producing country by volume is Côte d’Ivoire, which produces around 40% of global supply.
Cocoa is a delicate and sensitive crop, and farmers must protect trees from wind, sun, pests, and disease. With proper care, cocoa trees begin to yield pods at peak production levels by the fifth year, and they can continue at this level for 10 years. But for all this hard work, cocoa farmers gain very little from a very profitable global cocoa trade.
The international price of cocoa beans is currently rising in response to high demand for cocoa products as the industry wakes up to a potential long-term shortfall in global supply; disease and age are damaging cocoa trees and the number of farmers is falling because the benefits are so poor that few young people want to stay in the profession - the average age of a cocoa farmer is 50.
Despite the rise in prices, farmers aren’t benefiting sufficiently and remain in poverty as their income fails to keep up with rising production costs and household expenses.
How does Fairtrade make things better?
Fairtrade helps to make cocoa farming in places like Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana more sustainable through payment of the Fairtrade Premium.
Fairtrade Premium is unique to Fairtrade and is an additional sum of money paid over and above the Fairtrade price. It goes into a communal fund for the workers and farmers to invest - for example in business or community projects - enabling them to better provide for themselves and their communities.
In 2015-16, cocoa farmers earned around £22 million in Fairtrade Premiums and almost a quarter was invested in supporting farming families meet their daily needs.
Read more about cocoa farming and how Fairtrade is making a difference.
Where to buy Fairtrade Chocolate
Find out where you can buy Fairtrade chocolate and make a difference to the lives of cocoa farmers and their families around the world.
Find out where to buy Fairtrade chocolate