Does the fairtrade label on your chocolate bar mean 100% fairtrade cocoa beans?
Britons are the world’s biggest consumers of Fairtrade goods, buying £1.3 billion worth of products each year. Alongside the tea, coffee, fruit, vegetables and wine sold, Fair Trade chocolate has become increasingly popular. With the growth of this burgeoning ethical chocolate industry, many of the biggest names are jumping on the band wagon.
Published 10 October 2012:
Cadbury made their iconic Dairy Milk bar Fairtrade in 2009. Nestle soon followed suit with Kit Kat and this summer Mars’ Maltesers gained the same certification.
Each now carries the Fair Trade logo. For consumers, it’s a re-assuring label, guaranteeing that the Third World farmers who produced the cocoa beans received a good deal. But all may not be what it seems, because despite the logo, your Dairy Milk, Kit Kat, or Maltesers, may contain no Fairtrade cocoa beans at all.
Bill Keeling, chocolatier to the Queen, has criticised the current system. He points out that manufacturers are allowed to mix up the fair trade beans with others from non trade sources, and yet still label the finished product as ‘fair trade’.
As a result, there’s no guarantee that your favourite fair trade branded chocolate bars will actually contain any fair trade cocoa. So is this misleading?
Mixing cocoa beans in this way is allowed. If a manufacturer buys 20% of its beans from Fairtrade farms, then it can label 20% of its products as such. And there’s no question that the Fair Trade farmers are losing out – they receive all the money they are entitled to. But the consumer is left with a system that is undeniably confusing.
Some chocolate bars use only Fairtrade beans. Seed and Bean are amongst the brands that offer this including brands such as the following:
Divine: Amongst other products, below are some of the chocolate bars that contain 100% Fair Trade cocoa beans in their ingredients;
- Divine 70% Dark Chocolate
- Divine Fruit and Nut Dark Chocolate
- Divine 70% Dark Chocolate with raspberries
- Divine Mint Dark Chocolate
- Divine Coffee Milk Chocolate
- Divine Hazle Nut Milk Chocolate
- Divine Milk Chocolate
- Divine White chocolate with Strawberries
- Divine White Chocolate
- Divine Orange Milk Chocolate
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Peruvian Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate 100g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Peruvian 52% Dark Chocolate with Cranberries 100g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Peruvian 52% Dark Chocolate with Roasted Hazelnuts 100g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Ghanaian Milk Chocolate with Butterscotch 100g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Ghanaian Dark Chocolate with Peppermint oil 100g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Ghanaian Dark Chocolate with Spices and Orange Oil 100g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Ghanaian Dark Chocolate with Spices and Orange Oil 100g 40g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Ghanaian Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa 100g
- The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Ghanaian Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa 40g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Fruit and Nut Chocolate 200g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Dark Chocolate 200g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Milk Chocolate 200g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Crispy White Chocolate 100g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Milk Chocolate 200g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Milk Chocolate 100g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Crispy Milk Chocolate 100g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Dark Chocolate 40g
- The Co-operative Fairtrade Dominican Republic Milk Chocolate 40g
The above products carry exactly the same Fairtrade symbol as you see on the side of Kit Kats and Dairy Milks, even though Kit Kats and Dairy Milks may contain little or no Fairtrade cocoa. So is this fair?
A Cadbury spokesperson says,
“More than £6m has been invested back into Ghanaian cocoa communities as a result of our Fairtrade certification so there’s no doubt it’s already made the positive impact it set out to achieve. For every bar of Fairtrade Cadbury Dairy Milk, a traceable premium is generated which goes direct to these farmers in Ghana – money which has been spent on projects such as running mobile health units and purchasing equipment for the farmers themselves.”
A Mars spokesperson says,
Certification’s first priority should be to improve farmers' livelihoods, and Mars Chocolate is committed to putting farmers first. Through our work with certification organisations we have seen great progress in farming communities; increasing yields and income while simultaneously protecting the environment and improving social conditions. Mars Chocolate is committed to sourcing 100% certified sustainable cocoa by 2020, helping to reach as many farmers as possible at a scale that creates meaningful change.
In the global cocoa sector, traceable supply chains are limited; under 10% of the world’s cocoa crop is currently certified. Limiting purchasing to those farmers involved in physically traceable supply chains would prevent the benefits of certification from reaching farmers that are more remote, less well connected into the supply chain, and most in need of the training and services that certification brings. Current mass balance policies, which include complete document traceability, are absolutely necessary to enable significantly greater numbers of farmers to benefit.
Certification is the best tool industry has to support as many of the world’s 5 to 6 million cocoa farmers as possible and provide them with the material support and organisation they need to be successful. In 2012, we will purchase around 90,000 metric tons of certified sustainable cocoa, the largest amount of any manufacturer, as we move towards achieving our 2020 commitment for 100% certified sustainable cocoa in all our products.
A Nestle spokesperson says,
Consumers in the UK and Ireland can be absolutely certain that for every 4-Finger KIT KAT they buy, cocoa farmers receive the benefits that come with Fairtrade certification. We know exactly where our Fairtrade cocoa beans come from and KIT KAT has provided more than £1.6 million of Fairtrade premiums to farmers to improve their collective future. This is the better deal that the Fairtrade label promises and delivers.
Nestlé UK recently hosted Mr Kouame Fasseri, the Cote d’Ivoire cocoa farmer who appears on the back of our Fairtrade Kit Kat. He spoke about the difference the Fairtrade premiums had made to his community going towards a new health centre, health insurance and a new school.
Mass balance has enabled Fairtrade to increase its scale in cocoa, sugar, tea and juices, reaching thousands more farmers than it would otherwise. We would never want to mislead consumers and we are looking into how we can communicate more clearly how mass balance works and the benefits it brings to farmers and their families.