Chocolate is one of the most common, and most favourite treats of people all around the world. You could’ve assumed that together with huge chocolate consumption, there’s a lot of money in this business. It’s true – the global chocolate industry is worth over $100 billion. Unfortunately, not everybody who works in the chocolate-making process can have a sweet life.
People who earn the least on chocolate are farmers. The irony is that without them, it wouldn’t be even possible to enjoy our favourite treat. Some companies offer chicken feed for chocolate beans. They do that because farmers from cocoa beans harvesting countries often live in poverty. They have no choice – they can either sell the beans cheaply and have something to eat or starve.
According to The Guardian, farmers earn less than $1 per day on average, and their working conditions are terrible. High exposure to pesticides which cause many skin and allergic symptoms and dealing with unbearable heat are only a few of many struggles of their lives.
The reality is sad, and it shouldn’t happen in the XXI century, but that’s the way it goes. Fortunately, there’s something that you can do in order to help. What is it? The answer is simpler than you thought – just buy the products with Fairtrade mark. This little action can have a great impact on millions of people’s lives.
More and more companies, for example, Santa Barbara Chocolate sell products with Fairtrade marks. It’s likely that you’ve already seen that symbol, which is the most recognized global ethical label. From now on, pay special attention to the chocolate you purchase. If you choose chocolate bars, signed with Fairtrade label, you support not only farmers but also their families and communities. Your expense won’t be much higher, and the support that you give to the poorest is immeasurable.
Sadly free trade isn’t friendly for smaller-scale producers. It happens because whenever large subsidized companies appear on the market, they can afford to lower the prices, in order to drive out the competition. The same thing happened to chocolate farmers. After some time, they were forced to lower the product price, and it means that their labour was pretty much free. Such financial abuse should never be possible, but sadly, it’s the reality of millions of people. That’s why fair trade is so important, and if you don’t like the unethical practices of big companies, you should start acting as soon as possible.
Supply chain transparency at each level
Every Fairtrade certified product is a confirmation of transparency and traceability in every level of the supply chain. By purchasing such products, you can be sure that groups of farmers receive at least the guaranteed minimum amount of money, known as the floor price. Also, you can be sure that chocolate production is tightly supervised so that you can enjoy the chocolate of great quality
But, the Fairtrade mark is not only a minimum cocoa bean price for farmers. There’s more to that. Some part of the funds is collected and then sent to support communities that are in need of help. A lot of beneficiary projects such as scholarships, schools or quality of life improvements can be implemented thanks to this money. Of course, it’s up to the specific community to decide how the funds will be used.
One of the sad results of poverty is children labour. According to estimations, almost 2 million children in Ghana and Ivory Coast work in the chocolate industry. It often happens that they are forced to work in terrible conditions for more than eight hours. Very few of them are able to go to school. Luckily people take more and more actions to reduce this process, but more time is needed to change this unacceptable situation.
You’ll feel good about it
Purchasing Fairtrade marked chocolate will make you feel right. First of all, it’s delicious. According to some people, Fairtrade marked products usually taste bad and are of worse quality. Nothing more wrong! The Fairtrade marked chocolate flavour is just as good, if not better, than all the other chocolate that you regularly buy.
But the taste is not the only reason that will make you feel satisfied. Just think of all these people bad living conditions, and that you can make it significantly better. Your actions have a great impact on farmer communities lives and knowing that you help them is a fantastic feeling.
Media don’t tend to alarm about the problems of chocolate farmers. This issue is rarely discussed, and therefore not many people are aware that it even exists. Make sure to talk about it to the people you know, and advise them what to do, in order to help chocolate farmers who are in need of help.