Fair Trade And Ethical Sourcing In The Cocoa Industry Review

There are things that every industry can learn about fairtrade and ethical sourcing from the cocoa industry. The cocoa industry was hit hard by fairtrade and ethical sourcing issues.

Fairtrade and ethical sourcing were not always part of the cocoa industry’s global supply chain. The initiative received some horrible publicity, mainly due to child labor and the low wages being paid to the farmers. The chocolate industry decided they needed to be part of the solution and not the problem. 

Today many large and small cocoa farmers and significant chocolate companies are working to ensure their chocolate is made with fairtrade and ethically sourced cocoa. How the major chocolate companies have handled this is something that every company can learn why fair trade and ethical sourcing are essential.

What Is Fairtrade And Ethical Sourced Cocoa?

Fairtrade cocoa is a cocoa product harvested from a cocoa tree using a certified fair trade process that ensures the cocoa farmers make a fair and living wage.

The purpose of Fairtrade cocoa is to increase the income of the cocoa farmers while also improving their local community life so that more children can attend school and their villages will have necessities and economic prosperity.

Companies that use Fairtrade Certified Cocoa ensure their cocoa sources use fair trade and ethical sourcing principles. The same companies can also advertise that their chocolate is made with fairtrade cocoa.

These fairtrade chocolate companies also contribute to the social-economic and environmental sustainability of cocoa agriculture. In other words, they have ethical sourcing and fairtrade in mind when purchasing cocoa. 

I believe that there are a lot of other industries that can learn from the cocoa industry and their fair trade and ethical sourcing practices. We can learn from the chocolate industry and how they had to change how they bought the cocoa to ensure it was fair-trade sustainable with ethical sourcing principles.

History of Cocoa, FairTrade, And Ethical Sourcing

In the 1990s, much of the cocoa sold to the rest of the world was produced using slave labor. Most cocoa farmers, particularly in West Africa, were forced to use slave and child labor as they earned less than 1 USD per day.

The farmers had a lot of pressure to keep their cocoa prices low even though there was an increasing need for fertilizer; many farmers had to resort to hiring child or slave labor.

The world discovered that this unfairness in the chocolate industry was taking place; this left a mark on the chocolate industry. The chocolate industry decided they had to do something, so they set up what is known as the Fairtrade Cocoa Certification that was set up to help overcome these problems.

The idea was that chocolate companies would agree to buy cocoa that they knew was certified with a fairtrade certification.

These major chocolate companies agreed to only buy cocoa from sources that were fairtrade certified as not using child or slave labor in cocoa production and the cocoa farmers were making a fair and living wage.

As part of the fair trade, the chocolate companies also wanted to ensure ethical sourcing issues such as deforestation were being looked at. Major chocolate companies agreed to purchase and become fairtrade cocoa certified by 2020—two of the most notable ones are Hershey and Mars.

Hershey and Mars Chocolate And Their Fairtrade Initiatives

Both Hershey and Mars have reached their goal to only purchase fairtrade-certified cocoa by 2020. Both companies have actively worked to improve their cocoa supply chain.

The cocoa industry has been working on the fairtrade and ethical sourcing issue for over 10 years. Mars acknowledges that they know they still have work to do to ensure fair trade throughout the entire cocoa global supply chain.

On their website Mars said this about their Cocoa Fairtrade initiative:

“Backed by a $1 billion investment over 10 years, Cocoa for Generations has two pillars: Responsible Cocoa Today and Sustainable Cocoa Tomorrow.
Placing the interests of the smallholder farmer at its center, Cocoa for Generations is how we aim to step-change efforts and invite the cocoa sector to partner with us in a new approach to protect children, preserve forests and increase farmer income today, while creating a pathway for a more inclusive, modern and sustainable cocoa supply chain.”

Mars Candy

Hershey Chocolate also has a similar initiative. Like Mars, they are ahead of their schedule to ensure Fairtrade and Ethical sourcing are throughout their cocoa supply chain.

One of the significant issues for chocolate companies has been child labor. Child labor has been a massive issue in the cocoa industry, particularly in West Africa. Many children and families are so poor that they may have little choice but to use their children to earn income.

Child labor has been such an issue because many farmers would earn less than 1 USD per day before the Fairtrade and Ethical sourcing initiatives. Children were being forced to do a lot of hard and dangerous labor.

The cocoa farmers had pressure to keep their prices low, so they would employ the cheapest labor they could, which was usually children.

Hershey has said this is about their children’s labor initiative.

Enhanced protection, detection and remediation of child labor. We are scaling our Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems (CLMRS), the leading way to detect, remediate and eliminate child labor, across our entire West African cocoa sourcing supply chain by 2025. This includes engaging trusted members of farmers’ own communities in auditing farmers’ work practices and following up with them to find ways to help them lessen their reliance on the work of children (and keep children in school).”

Hershey Chocolate

Child labor in the cocoa fields continues to be a huge issue. In some parts of Africa, children working is a way of life.

The children are forced to use sharp tools, are exposed to harsh agricultural chemicals, and are forced to carry very heavy loads of cocoa. It is estimated that over 1.4 million children could be working in cocoa fields or processing plants. 

Both Mars, Hershey, and other companies have said that they understand this is an issue for the Cocoa industry, so they are working to solve the problems through a fair wage, fair price, ethical sourcing, and zero-tolerance child labor policy, but even though progress has been made, they still have work to do.

What Every Company Can Learn From Cocoa Fairtrade And Ethical Sourcing

Even if you are not in the cocoa industry or an industry where the words fairtrade or ethical sourcing are never discussed, there are still things that everyone can learn from the Cocoa industry and how they have worked to tackle this problem.

Here are some of the things we can learn from the cocoa industry and their handling of fairtrade and ethical sourcing:

  • Get In Front Of The Issue – Get in front of the issue. Even if your industry does not talk about ethical sourcing or fairtrade, research has shown this will continue to become a significant issue. The time for you to start on this issue is right now.
  • Acknowledge The Issue – Chocolate companies such as Hershey and Mars have had to acknowledge the issue. Then they have told the world, look – we know it is a problem – but we are committed to finding a way to fix it.
  • Define Your Solution – The cocoa companies have worked hard to define the solution. They have set up dedicated pages on their websites to talk about and discuss their progress and their solutions to the problem.
  • Make It Part Of Your Brand – The cocoa companies made fairtrade part of their brand and corporate identity. Many of them put it on their packaging to let the consumers know they ensure the cocoa was ethically sourced and fairtrade certified.

The cocoa industry has shown us that “doing business while doing good” is a great way to do business. Having things like fairtrade and ethical sourcing as part of your brand identity is essential for any large or small company.

We can all take the example of these large chocolate companies and ensure that fair trade and ethical sourcing are part of our entire supply chain.

Find out more about how Mondoro can help you create, develop, and manufacture excellent home decor and home furniture with fairtrade and ethical sourcing in mind – don’t hesitate to contact me, AnitaCheck out my email by clicking here or become a part of our community and join our newsletter by clicking here.

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What Is The Difference Between Fair Trade And Ethical Sourcing?

Fair Trade is an organization that includes partnerships with the marginalized and disadvantaged groups worldwide. The purpose of FairTrade is to help these groups to be able to have a more level playing field and ensure that they can earn a fair wage for the products they are offering. Ethical sourcing ensures that your global supply chain considers all the global, social, and environmental impacts of your products.

You can discover more by reading What Is The Difference Between Fair Trade And Ethical Sourcing? by clicking here.

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