Oh, chocolate. Let me count the ways.
It’s no secret that chocolate is a beloved commodity on our side of the world. Easter reminds us of this with the onslaught of chocolate bunnies and eggs by selling us Spring in snack form. After a cold winter, flowery marketing is an easy sell. Bring on Spring and bring on chocolate!
But be wary of pretty packaging.
When you buy a chocolate bar, how much money goes to the producer? According to Oxfam, farmers only receive 3% of the retail price.
Thankfully we have seen a growing spotlight on the cocoa industry. Using a hidden camera, the 2010 documentary ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate’ brought attention to the frustrating incidence of child labour in Cote D’Ivoire and the slave trade that accompanies it. Last year a video of cocoa farmers trying chocolate for the first time went viral, showing us the imbalance trade. Then the news broke that in the near future there might not be enough cocoa supply to keep up with the demand. The time is now to have this tough conversation.
The fair trade market in Canada is getting stronger and you can find ethically-sourced chocolate like La Siembra’s Camino and the producer owned Divine, in major chain stores. In Toronto, you can also check out Delight! They use La Siembra chocolate and Alternative Grounds espresso! There is also ChocoSol, a direct trading company with a social mind and a great story.
It’s 2015 and a few big players have been getting involved. Interestingly this year, World Vision has been putting heat on the cocoa industry by exposing the amount of child labour that is involved in cocoa farms. They have put out the Good Chocolate Guide which is an easy to decipher list of which companies are buying ethically sourced chocolate, and which companies need to improve their game. It is definitely worth checking out. They also have a petition going to get Cadbury to bring their fairtrade certified chocolate eggs to Canada!
The Fairtrade Cocoa Program
There is also an interesting new initiative coming out of Fairtrade International that aims to certify products with either fairtrade cotton, sugar or cocoa. Using this Fairtrade Sourcing Program logo will let consumers know which ingredient is fairtrade certified.
There have been some concerns raised by the fairtrade community that this could give companies less incentive to reach full fairtrade certification. However Fairtrade International believes that by offering more diverse certification options, more players will be able to get involved. They will also continue to promote companies that are fairtrade champions and make distinction between Fairtrade Certified and Fairtrade Sourced. Only time will tell how this initiative changes the fairtrade landscape. As consumers, we can support the positive momentum of fairtrade by understanding these labels and helping others to understand them as well.