Is chocolate sustainable today if nothing changes?
Chocolate depends upon West Africa.
There are important problems in West Africa that can be solved, but to solve those problems many people must work together.
Buying Chocolate Nowadays
Can I feel good about buying chocolate?
Chocolate is a miracle food in many ways, but it's also tangled up with tough issues.
People who think about "doing the right thing" when they shop will probably want to know a few things about West Africa and cocoa certification.
Chocolate and West Africa
Where does chocolate come from?
Chocolate is made from cocoa.
Cocoa grows only near the equator, and almost 70% of the world's cocoa comes from just two countries, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.
When people talk about cocoa, these two countries of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana are called West Africa.
Chocolate and Farming in West Africa
How is cocoa grown?
Cocoa is farmed on plantations in rainforest areas threatened by climate change and deforestation.
Cocoa pods are harvested by hand from cocoa (or cacao) trees using machetes - it's very labour intensive.
Inside the harvested pods are cocoa beans from which chocolate can eventually be made.
Chocolate and People in West Africa
Who grows most of the world's cocoa?
Almost all cocoa today in grown on small family farms.
There are about 8 million people who grow cocoa in West Africa.
There are about 1.8 million different farming households. The average age of a cocoa farmer is 56.
The Problems of Cocoa Communities in West Africa
What problems are faced by people who grow cocoa in West Africa?
Poverty and child labour.
"Child labour is correctly seen as both a symptom and a self-perpetuating
cause of the poverty that is faced by many cocoa farmers."
(The international Cocoa Initiative, Strategy 2015-2020)
Improving Cocoa Farming in West Africa
What can be done to help cocoa families in West Africa?
Farming practices can be improved, communities can be developed, supply chains can be traced, gender equality can be promoted, and the natural environment can be stewarded.
Many players must continue acting together to solve complicated probelms: governments, agencies, cocoa and chocolate manufacturing companies, food processing companies, retailers, and even consumers.
Cocoa certification is today a best practice for driving change - it is a surefooted step along a path leading to a sustainable cocoa future.
Committing to West Africa
Why is West Africa the key?
Because conditions are right today to solve the problems of West Africa - many players are committed to action right now.
Because it's right and fair: businesses should hold themselves accountable, and West Africa's cocoa economy was built to supply the developed world.
Almost 70% of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, and that means there can be no global cocoa economy, and therefore no chocolate, as they are known today, without sustainable cocoa in West Africa.
Certified Cocoa and West Africa
How will certification promote a sustainable cocoa future for West Africa?
No logo alone can solve the challenge of cocoa sustainability in West Africa, but...
Certification is leading the way: certifying agencies have set standards, raised awareness, pressed for business accountability, focused attention upon supply chains, and delivered financial help to communities.
Certification today is a best practive because it drives demand and lets markets operate to force positive developments.
"While some companies claim that they cannot increase purchases of
certified cocoa due to a lack of supply, farmers indicate that production
of certified cocoa is far higher than demand. Despite the limits of
[certification] standards to solve all sustainability problems in the cocoa
value chain the percentage of certified cocoa and the number of
farmers reached is a reference line for the progress made."
Fountain, A.C. and Hütz-Adams, F. (2015), Cocoa Barometer
2015-USA Edition, emphasis added, at page 27.
Why certify with Rainforest Alliance rather somebody else?
There are several certifying bodies - Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, and UTZ are the best known.
Certification standards vary between agencies but the effect of certification upon cocoa sustainability in West Africa is much the same among them - the agencies are allies in a common cause and critiquing differences makes little sense.
Attractive features of Rainforest Alliance CertificationTM include: a focus upon environmental stewardship; standards that address labour conditions; market penetration in North America; certification standards that do not fix prices but that instead encourage markets to pay more for better quality products and processes; and, a good on-the-ground market share in West Africa.
0.1. The Sustainable Agriculture Network
The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is a coalition of independant
nonprofit conservation organizations that promote the social and
environmental sustainability of agricultural activities ...
0.2. The Rainforest Alliance
The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization working
to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Farms that
meet the SAN's comprehensive standards for sustainability, as well as
POs* that comply with SAN and Rainforest Alliance policies, are eligible
for a license to use the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal and/or make
Rainforest Alliance Certified claims for products grown on Rainforest
Alliance Certified Farms.
Sustainable Agriculture Network and Rainforest Alliance (2015), Chain
of Custody Standard.
(*A PO is any company, like Cococo, that applies for chain-of-custody