Today is chocolate day, but chocolate will not always be a matter of course. To ensure cocoa cultivation is free from human rights violations and with respect for the environment, we must review our consumer goods, writes Maria Lövström, chairman of the Fair Trade Retailers Organization.
Researchers warn that chocolate may run out within 30 years. It is climate change that is expected to hit cocoa farmers hard in Ivory Coast and Ghana, among other places, which account for more than half of the world's production. Cocoa growers are also poorly equipped and many live in absolute poverty.
Swedish consumers buy fresh chocolate ahead of Christmas, everything from chocolate boxes to drinking chocolate. But cocoa's road to chocolate is long, with many middlemen, and only a fraction goes to growers. In order for us to continue to enjoy chocolate, we need to stop, think about the cocoa growers' working environment, and how we can work together to deal with climate change and the expected warmer temperatures. Our chocolate consumption should never take place at the expense of the grower, it should be a trade collaboration where everyone gets an equal share of the cake.
By buying chocolate that is labeled with socially sustainable certifications, such as the WFTO label and the Fairtrade label, the grower is guaranteed good working conditions, where salary, training and equality are in focus.
In the Fair Trade movement, all actors are based on the 10 principles of Fair Trade that are based on the ILO's core conventions. This means that the worker, or in this case the grower, is fairly paid, that there is a ban on child labor and that women and men are treated equally. This is made possible by giving growers more pay, through advance payments and training. In addition, trade cooperation between producer, importer and retailer takes place on equal terms, all following the same principles.
The 10 principles, which are controlled by the World Fair Trade Organizations' (WFTO) guarantee system, also include conducting active environmental work to make its operations more sustainable throughout the trade chain. Purchasing, production and packaging take place in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment.
An example where Fair Trade can be seen as a success story is the chocolate Divine. It is produced in Ghana by the cooperative called Kuapa Kokoo, and the growers themselves own 44 percent of the processing process, ie the limited company Divine, which has its registered office in the United Kingdom.
Kuapa Kokoo is a cooperative that brings together over 85 growers (as many workers as the Volvo Group has in the world) and women's empowerment has been strengthened, they have gained control of their finances and been encouraged to take higher positions within the company.
In order for chocolate to continue to be produced, it must be done with respect for people and the environment. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns that climate change may become a threat to cocoa plants, and that chocolate may run out in 2050. Cocoa plants are also heavily exposed to a fungal disease that already affects cocoa production. .
In order for cocoa growers to have equal conditions in today's trade, stricter rules are required regarding Swedish companies' trade relations, but we as consumers can also set the agenda. Christmas shopping is a great opportunity to review your consumption, if nothing else, start by looking for Fair Trade labels on the chocolate you buy.