Higher farmer income is key to a sustainable future for chocolate, says Divine

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This Fairtrade Fortnight leading Fairtrade chocolate company Divine responds to the recent warnings that the supply of cocoa for chocolate could run out, and argues that increasing farmer remuneration for cocoa is key to a sustainable future for chocolate. Recent research undertaken by Divine demonstrates that consumers support this view, with 67% believing farmers should be paid more for their cocoa.

Recent research by multinational chocolate producers Barry Callebaut and Mars, as well as a recent report by Hardman Agribusiness highlight the risk of cocoa demand outstripping supply in the near future – with the corresponding risk of a shortage of chocolate much covered in the national press.

The reasons identified are the growth in new markets for chocolate such as India, China and Brazil – and the low productivity of existing cocoa farms – particularly in West Africa where the bulk of cocoa comes from.

Divine Chocolate points to poverty as the key problem impacting on the future of cocoa farming:

Divine Chocolate MD Sophi Tranchell, said: “Cocoa farmers are not generating enough income on which to live, look after their families and invest properly in their farms. They don’t earn enough to invest in new trees, farming training, diversification, and equipment to improve the productivity and longevity of their farms – resulting in poor yields, precarious livelihoods, and a future generation who can see little to attract them to a future in cocoa farming.

The sustainable future of chocolate depends on farmers seeing a viable future in cocoa farming – and that means securing a reliable income for their cocoa which will cover food, education and everything they need for their families, but also enough to invest in adapting, improving and diversifying to ensure they are getting the best from their land and their trees.

Fairtrade certification is key because it focuses on the farmer and on fairer remuneration – and it encourages farmers to organise so that together they can also use their additional income to make communal improvements that benefit everybody.

We also believe it is important for farmers to be given greater status and to be able to determine their own futures, invest in their own farms and help their communities to thrive, rather than be dependent on investment from outside over which they have no control.”

“Our vision is a world where chocolate is cherished and celebrated by everyone.”

Although we are a nation of devoted chocolate lovers, research commissioned by Divine Chocolate shows we’re not necessarily correspondingly knowledgeable about where our favourite treat comes from and the issues facing its production. Although 65% knew that most of the world’s cocoa is grown by smallholder farmers, only 32% knew Ghana was a top producer of cocoa and only one in five was aware there could be a cocoa shortage.

Asked what they thought the causes of a cocoa shortage might be, 53% said low income of farmers, 50% the next generation choosing not to become cocoa farmers and 46% thought climate change. Asked views on how to tackle an impending cocoa shortage, 67% of British adults believe farmers should be paid more for their cocoa, and they believed their income should be enough to feed their families (88%), send their children to school (78%), buy medicines (76%) and buy equipment for their farms (72%).

Respondents generally had a low expectation of being able to make any difference themselves, with just 11% believing they could do anything to stop chocolate running out – but 40% said they would switch to a certified brand and a third are prepared to pay more for their chocolate.

Divine Chocolate is a 100% Fairtrade company – all its products are certified. Its business model, which goes beyond the Fairtrade deal for farmers, sets a challenge to the chocolate industry – proving that it is possible and sustainable to run a business in which the cocoa farmers who supply the cocoa not only receive the Fairtrade price, they also have the biggest stake (44%) in the company.

As a £12m company with products available throughout UK and around the world, Divine Chocolate is proving that its farmer-focused view on how to make cocoa farming a viable livelihood really works. Divine pays the $200 per tonne Fairtrade premium on the 1000+ tonnes of cocoa it buys from Kuapa Kokoo (the farmers’ co-operative of 80,000+ members in Ghana) each year, delivers 44% of its distributed profit to Kuapa Kokoo, as well as investing 2% of its turnover in key development programmes with the co-operative (£2m over the last 16 years) including good governance and capacity building, adult literacy programmes for women and a model farm programme.