19 April 2014 – During the Easter holidays, the sales of two kinds of eggs increase: the real thing as well as its chocolate duplicate.
Today it is much easier for consumers to distinguish between labels and make ethical choices than, let’s say, ten years ago. Organic eggs and Fair Trade chocolate are available to all, and help make Easter happier for both chicken and cocoa farmers.
Chocolate is a good example of how ethical consumption can move markets. Sales of fairly traded chocolate in the UK grew from £1m in 1998 to £26.8m in 2008 and this has grown even further since Cadbury's Dairy Milk went Fairtrade in 2009.
This is particularly good news for the hands that pick the cocoa.
Most of the world’s cocoa is imported to Europe from West Africa, which has been the centre of world cocoa cultivation for the last 60 years and today produces 67% of the world’s cocoa. The four major cocoa producers in West Africa are Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Back in 2001 consumers all over the world were outraged when it was revealed that human trafficking, child labour and slavery –in addition to other forms of serious exploitation – were common at the cocoa plantations in West Africa. As the negative publicity and demands from the consumers increased, the chocolate industry caved in and a compromise was found in order to eradicate child labour on Côte d’Ivoire’s plantation before 2008. However, the targets weren’t met, and another deadline was set for 2010.
But in 2012, CNN’s Freedom Project showed that over 200 000 children still were working at the plantations – in Côte d’Ivoire alone. Children as young as five years old, often orphans from the neighbouring countries, were forced to work under difficult conditions. Tropical heat, long working days and hazardous equipment are only some of the dangers the children face – not to mention the loss of their right to an education and a future.
By demanding accountability and fairly produced chocolate, consumers are helping to shape the future of the chocolate industry towards a more sustainable path.
The market for Fair Trade and Organic Cocoa (2009), FAO document.
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