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15 fair trade cocoa facts you need to know

Whether you want to learn about the fair trade premium, gain an understanding on how fair trade practices help growers, and their communities find solutions that are economically and socially better for them and the environment, or how to become a Fairtrade Town, our fair trade cocoa facts got you covered… 

1. Many cocoa farmers earn less than 75 pence a day 

According to the Fairtrade Foundation, many cocoa farmers earn less than $1 (around 74 pence) a day. Fair trade cocoa beans allow farmers to get a better income. The farmers receive a fairer price for their cocoa. They’re also often given agricultural training to help them increase their yield.  

2. £169 million was paid in fair trade premiums in 2020

The fair trade premium is an extra payment made to fair trade producers. Fair trade cocoa farmers receive around $200 extra for each tonne of cocoa beans produced. Farmers use the premium in lots of different ways, from buying new tools and plants to building schools and ensuring access to local education.  

3. Whole communities benefit from fair trade cocoa beans 

It’s not just farmers who benefit from fair trade – part of the fair trade premium is usually spent on community projects. Our Fairtrade Organic Cacao Powder supplier, YACAO, has built several aqueducts to give people clean drinking water. It’s also built a community centre and several small houses.  

Luker Chocolate, which supplies our fairly traded Luxury Dark Chocolate Chips and other products, has built new classrooms for some of its communities. Altogether, its education initiatives have reached 15,000 children, teens and adults. Furthermore, they’re making sure villages and communities have access to safe drinking water and support them towards a more sustainable way of farming and living. 

You can find out more about our suppliers here

4. Fair trade and fairly traded products help to protect farmers from market changes 

Global cocoa prices fluctuate each year. They dropped by more than a third between 2016 and 2017. When you’re already earning a pittance, that kind of drop can be catastrophic. Fair trade and fairly trading cocoa farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their cocoa beans. Having a guaranteed fair trade cocoa price means farmers have more financial security and can plan ahead. 

5. Food Thoughts Cocoa Powder was the first Fairtrade cocoa to be launched in the UK  

Oxfam wanted to make cocoa fairer for farmers and our Organic Cocoa Powder was the result. It was the first fair trade cocoa to be launched in the UK. We’ve been buying our Fairtrade cocoa from the same supplier for more than two decades now.  

6. Fair trade cocoa helps to stop child labour 

Child labour is a huge issue in the cocoa industry, particularly in West Africa. Fair trade prohibits child labour and farms are regularly checked to make sure they stick to the rules. You can read about how fair trade cocoa is tackling child labour here.  

Poverty is the main cause of child labour. Fair trade farmers have a better, more stable income, so are more likely to be able to send their children to school. Plus, the fair trade premium is often used to build schools or pay for education. So the farmers and the communities can have a better future. 

7. Fair trade benefits the environment 

Fair trade standards include environmental criteria, such as the responsible use of water. Many fair trade products are also organic. Our Organic Cocoa and Cacao Powders for example, are certified by the Soil Association. And our fairly traded Pure Cacao Melts are helping to plant 6 million trees in Colombia. Luker, one of our fairly trading suppliers, is investing at least 10% of the average price paid for cocoa on sustainability programmes for famers and communities. 

8. 41% of fair trade farm workers are women 

17% of fair trade farmers and 41% of the workers are women. Earning an income often gives women a greater say over their lives. Fair trade standards include rules on gender equality and there’s zero tolerance of abusive behaviour. Supporting women to develop the skills to farm better, allows them to build better communities that continue to empower women. 

9. 71 countries are home to fair trade producers 

Fair trade is making a difference to people’s lives in 71 countries, from Papua New Guinea to Ghana.  

10. Cocoa is produced in only a few places in the world 

Ghana and the Ivory Coast produce more than half of the world’s cocoa. Cocoa is also grown in other countries, including India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil and Ecuador. Our ethically sourced, sustainably grown and mind-blowlingly delicious cocoa and cacao comes from Colombia and the Dominican Republic.  

11. Only 6% of the cocoa sold worldwide is fair trade 

Most cocoa still isn’t fair trade. If more people buy fairly traded products, more brands will decide to make the switch. By paying the fair trade premium, consumers are actively supporting farmers and their communities towards a better future.  

All Food Thoughts products are fairly traded. You can read more about our values here.  

12. Cocoa has been farmed for at least 1,400 years 

The first cocoa plantations that we know of belonged to the ancient Mayans. They used the cocoa beans to make a cold drink called xocoatl. Back then, cocoa beans were highly valued and worth more to the Mayans than gold. But as cocoa and chocolate grew in popularity, cocoa became more widely grown and cocoa beans lost their value. 

Over the last few hundred years, little progress has been made in terms of living conditions for some of the world’s poorest cocoa farmers. By trading fairly, we can help to change that. The first fair trade chocolate bar was introduced to the UK in 1991 and now around 12% of the chocolate sold here is fair trade. We believe all chocolate should be fairly traded, so there’s clearly still a long way to go.   

13. Fair trade cocoa bean farmers are often members of co-operatives 

By joining together in a co-operative, farmers can negotiate better terms and widen their market. We buy our Organic Cocoa and Organic Cacao from a fair trade co-operative called YACAO, which has around 2,400 members, many of whom are small family smallholders. And Luker, our other supplier, maintains meaningful and long-term relationships with over 50 fairly trading cocoa farmer associations.  

14. There are more than 600 Fairtrade Towns in the UK 

Fairtrade Towns help to spread the word about fair trade and how it impacts farmers. They bring together the local council, businesses, retailers and shops to work together in encouraging people to choose fair trade. And it’s not just towns that can sign up. Villages, cities, counties and boroughs can take part too. You can find out more about Fairtrade Towns here

15. Fair trade isn’t just about cocoa and chocolate 

You can buy all manner of fairly traded products, from sugar, olive oil, wine, tea and coffee, to clothing, flowers and homeware. Whatever you buy, by choosing fair trade, you’re helping people to have a better life.   

Head this way if you want to learn more about fair trade. Or head to our shop if you want to buy fairly traded cocoa, cacao, chocolate chips and other baking ingredients.