The Fairtrade movement hailed a major breakthrough yesterday with the announcement that Britain’s biggest-selling chocolate brand was switching to the ethical standard. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, which sells 300 million bars a year in the UK and Ireland, will source its cocoa from Fairtrade farmers in Ghana, the biggest brand of its kind to make the move.
“This is groundbreaking news for thousands of small farmers in Ghana, enabling all those who buy it to make a real difference,” said Cadbury’s chief executive, Todd Stitzer. The Fairtrade mark was set up as a way of guaranteeing developing world farmers a bigger share of the money generated from products using their raw materials. Some 7.5 million people, including farmers, workers and their families, benefit from products displaying the Fairtrade symbol.
“Farmers are saying that it’s impossible to make ends meet,” said Fairtrade’s head, Harriet Lamb. “People don’t see cocoa as a future. They don’t get enough cash from cocoa so there’s not enough investment.” The new project is designed to create a “virtuous circle” by putting a floor on the price and offering a premium for higher quality beans. “With more income, farmers invest to improve quality and productivity,” she added. “Then they start to spread the benefits and you see banks popping up in villages and thriving markets appearing.”
Forty thousand of Ghana’s 700,000 cocoa farmers will benefit from the first phase of the Cadbury venture, tripling the country’s Fairtrade cocoa production. “Young people are giving up and moving to the cities where there are often no jobs,” Ms Lamb said. “We hope this can be a turning point for the industry.”
Benjamin Atiemo from the cocoa-growing village of Adjeikrom expects to benefit. He said he was concerned about the future of cocoa unless farmers could increase their yields and incomes. Ms Lamb said seven out of 10 people in the UK had heard of Fairtrade products and would buy them if their favourite brands offered the choice.
Cocoa is Ghana’s biggest cash crop and second-largest export earner. The industry has encountered increasing difficulties. Deforestation has reduced the necessary rainforest cover for cocoa cultivation and fragmentation of cocoa farms into hundreds of thousands of smallholdings has inhibited investment.