breaking open a cocoa pod to reveal cocoa beans

One Easter Egg at a time: A fair deal for those who grow our chocolate

Wednesday 27 March, 2024

94% buy Easter eggs, yet 31% would avoid an ethical brand because of mistaken cost assumption.

This Easter shoppers can do more than choose between a milk, dark or white chocolate egg, they have the power to make a major difference to the cocoa farmers.
The cocoa industry currently faces turmoil as the price of cocoa beans rockets and farmers face climate challenges amid continually changing weather patterns, which threaten the future of chocolate.

As a nation, we clearly adore chocolate and our appetite for the confectionery results in about 80 million Easter eggs1 being sold in the UK each year, with 94% of us saying we buy at least one.

However, new consumer research shows that taste and quality (47%) are our main priorities when making our selection, with price (36%) and convenience (25%) also key factors.

Although we are becoming more switched on when it comes to ethical consumption, there is more work to be done. A fifth (21%) of us are eager to support products made to a high standard. Additionally, 18% believe in the importance of fair pay for farmers, and a further 18% only buy products that reflect their values around sustainability and climate change.

However, almost a third (31%) of us would overlook an ethical brand because we mistakenly assume that it costs more, while one in nine (11%) don’t know what Fairtrade stands for, with one in 14 wondering if it supports the farmers who grow our cocoa.

Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation said: “If you’re planning to buy an Easter egg this weekend, make it a Fairtrade one. Cocoa farmers are facing a fourth successive year of crop losses caused by changes in climate. They tell us that it’s becoming very difficult to grow cocoa because rainfall patterns have changed, temperatures are rising and farming costs have gone up.

“When your crop fails, you lose your income. Fairtrade’s Minimum Price and Premium provide them with a safety net, with the aim of covering their farming costs and enabling investments so they can plan ahead and remain in business.

“Together, we can all help cocoa farmers become more resilient, one Easter egg at a time, by looking for the Fairtrade Mark when we are out shopping.”

In spite of producing three fifths of the world’s cocoa, many cocoa farmers in West Africa live below the extreme poverty line. Earning only 6% of the final value of a chocolate bar on average, they have little negotiating power and yet bear most of the risk. Poverty means they struggle with deforestation, gender inequality, and exploitation.

The Fairtrade Foundation is petitioning the UK Government to deliver the promised funding and legal changes to new laws to protect forests and farmers. The move comes ahead of secondary legislation of the Environment Act, which will come before Parliament this year and outlines further details on deforestation.

Gidney continued: “Under the banner of our 30th anniversary we will continue to advocate for climate justice. Our world is perhaps more dangerous now than it was 30 years ago: the climate crisis, global insecurity, rising costs and long-term low pricing continue to threaten farmers’ futures. That matters to us all.”

Fairtrade works to safeguard the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and any product bearing its logo must meet Fairtrade International’s rigorous standards. Fairtrade goods are also affordable and can be easily found on the high street.

While children are well versed in the traditions of Easter egg hunts – with each child expected to enjoy up to eight Easter eggs over Easter2 – 46% of parents have not talked to them about why fair terms of trade are so important, especially given the vulnerable position in which many farmers find themselves in West Africa.


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Notes to Editors

Industry data: Globally there are an estimated 5-6 million cocoa farmers, with about 90% of these cultivating under 5 hectares.

2021 Total Fairtrade sales (MT cocoa): 241,455

Poverty: The right to a living income is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In recent years, the cocoa and coffee sectors have declared that they will never be sustainable if farmers are not able to earn a living income, and have pledged commitments to realise living incomes in producing countries.

Despite this broad recognition and the good intentions, the vast majority of small-scale farmers still live in poverty. The devastating effects of climate change, soaring inflation and extreme price volatility worsen their chances of earning a decent income from farming and, as a result, young people are abandoning rural areas in search of better and easier ways to make a living.

Fairtrade’s pioneering work in developing a Living Income Strategy, setting Living Income benchmarks and Reference Prices and the financial interventions of the Fairtrade minimum price (a safety net for farmer organisations when market prices fall) and the Fairtrade premium payments, exist to move cocoa farmers out of extreme poverty and towards living incomes.

Climate threat: Fairtrade believes in climate justice. Producers must be supported to tackle changing weather patterns. Those who produce the least emissions are facing the greatest challenge. By 2050, large areas of West African growing regions will become unsuitable for growing today’s cocoa varieties.

Biggest challenges are of changing rainfall patterns, agrochemical use and mining damage. Farmers need resources to adapt to climate change, including planting forests. Pending legislation in the UK and the EU should include farmer voices, and it should not pass the burden down the supply chain.

Deforestation: Over the past 30 years, Ghana is estimated to have lost 65% of its forest cover, while Côte d’Ivoire has lost around 90% of its forests.

Structural poverty is a root cause of deforestation. Due to low prices and low incomes, poverty is widespread among many smallholder farmers in countries producing cocoa. Degradation of forest and illegal logging is grounded in desperation and exacerbated by poor landscapes governance. A lack of decent living conditions leads people to turn to the forest to fulfil fundamental needs such as food and energy.

Smallholders sometimes seek income opportunities by planting cocoa in those already degraded areas, usually resulting in further soil damage and ongoing economic hardship. Climate change is also gradually worsening the conditions of production for agricultural goods in many of these regions, significantly increasing the associated farming costs.

Fairtrade believes that the deforestation legislation will be a crucial step towards tackling environmental damage in our supply chains. The adoption of robust legislation should be producer focused, this means that it must be designed and implemented in a way that ensures smallholder farmers and workers do not carry the costs and burdens of compliance.

Consumer poll: The research for Fairtrade was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 08/03/24 and 11/03/24 among a panel resulting in 2000 nationally representative UK respondents, aged 16+. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2019) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018).