Chocolate is one of the most popular sweets in the world. But did you know that the kind of chocolate you buy can make a difference? Fair trade chocolate allows producers and everyone else involved to get a better price for their work without sacrificing quality or taste.
But what actually is fair chocolate?
One can speak of fairly produced chocolate as soon as it is produced under conditions that put the farmers and other workers first. This means that they receive fair wages, better working conditions and more stable employment opportunities.
Because the chocolate is fair trade, it is usually more expensive than conventional chocolate, but the extra cost reflects the better wages and working conditions that the farmers and other workers receive. Importantly, the premium you pay for fair trade chocolate benefits the communities where the cocoa is grown and harvested.
If you see a certificate or seal on a fair chocolate bar, it usually means that the cocoa was grown by a certified farmer. This farmer is sometimes paid a premium, i.e. a surcharge. However, this does not necessarily mean that the farmers involved in the harvest receive any kind of minimum wage.
What constitutes fair cocoa farming?
The principles of fair cocoa farming
Fair Trade cocoa farming involves a set of principles designed to improve the lives of cocoa farmers and ensure that they farm in a sustainable, ethical and equitable manner. Adherence to these principles helps to ensure that farmers receive better wages and more stable employment opportunities, while protecting the environment.
Three principles of fair cocoa farming
- Fair wages and working conditions
- Sustainable farming methods
- Promotion of social development
Fair wages and working conditions
The first principle of fair cocoa farming is to provide fair wages and working conditions for farmers and others involved in production. This means that workers should receive a wage that covers their basic needs and that they should have safe and healthy working conditions.
Sustainable farming methods
The second principle of fair cocoa farming is the use of sustainable farming methods. This means that producers should avoid the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers and instead choose natural alternatives that are better for the environment. Furthermore, farmers should use natural methods to control pests and other disease-causing organisms and strive to conserve resources such as energy, water and soil.
Promoting social development
Finally, the third principle of fair cocoa farming is the promotion of social development. This includes, for example, cooperation with local communities. It also includes access to education and other resources.
What is the impact of following these principles?
Adhering to these principles of fair cocoa farming can ensure that cocoa is grown ethically and sustainably, while providing better wages and working conditions for farmers and other workers. The world market price for cocoa beans fluctuates greatly due to inflation, which is why it is simply not enough to pay only according to this criterion. Cocoa farming is only truly fair when it provides both smallholders and larger cocoa farmers with a life free from child labour and living wages. With the help of these principles, a foundation is laid that enables all participants to live a life worth living and with dignity.
What is the difference with organic chocolate?
There is a difference? Well, actually fair chocolate and organic chocolate are the same thing, aren't they? The answer to this? A clear no! Because although both types of chocolate are produced under ethical and sustainable conditions, there are some important differences that you should know.
The production criteria of fair chocolate
Fair chocolate is produced with certain working conditions in mind. This means that fair chocolate producers must ensure that their workers are paid decent wages, have safe working conditions and are granted labour rights. In addition, producers must pay attention to the environmental impact of their operations and ensure that they adhere to the principles of sustainable agriculture.
The production criteria of organic chocolate
Organic chocolate, on the other hand, is produced with environmental sustainability in mind. This means that manufacturers must refrain from using synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers and instead use natural alternatives. In addition, organic chocolate must be produced without genetic modification or irradiation and must be grown and processed according to recognised agricultural practices.
Here are the differences and what to look out for when buying
The main difference between these two types of chocolate lies in the standards they adhere to. While fair chocolate is produced with working conditions in mind, organic chocolate is produced with environmental sustainability in mind. Both types of chocolate are ethical and sustainable, but the standards they follow are slightly different.
When buying chocolate, it is important to look for certification seals that indicate whether the product is Fairtrade or organic. In Germany, the government's organic seal is used for organic products, and Fairtrade International's Fairtrade seal is used for fair trade products. If you take these labels into account, you can be sure when buying that certain standards have been met, but you do not have a guarantee that a premium will be paid or that exploitative conditions for plantation workers will be avoided when buying Fairtrade or organic chocolate.
What seals and certificates are there?
Fair chocolate is produced using ethical and sustainable methods. To ensure that you as a consumer can easily recognise fair chocolate products, there are several seals that indicate that a product meets certain standards.
The most common certifications: Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance
One of the most well-known seals for fair chocolate is the Fairtrade seal from Fairtrade International. This seal indicates that a product has been produced according to Fairtrade standards, which include fair wages and safe working conditions for workers and ensuring that producers are environmentally responsible.
The Rainforest Alliance seal is another seal used for the production of fair trade chocolate. This seal indicates that a product has been produced according to the Rainforest Alliance's standards for sustainable agriculture, which, among other things, ensure that producers consider the impact of their operations on the environment and promote community development.
As a consumer, knowing about these existing labels will help you make an informed decision when buying chocolate and ensure that the product you choose has been produced in an ethical and sustainable way.
Fair chocolate at fairafric - what do we do differently?
The current status quo is a problem
At fairafric, every bar of chocolate has an enormous economic and social impact, because fairafric shifts the value added in chocolate production to Africa. Unfortunately, the current problem is that raw materials produced in the global South are only refined into a final product in the industrialised countries, making rich corporations in the global North increasingly wealthy at the expense of raw material producers. While Fairtrade provides good approaches and a strong foundation, unfortunately it does not change these circumstances.
What is the solution to this problem?
The solution is called Fairchain. This movement advocates leaving the entire production process of goods in the country of origin of the raw materials. This is where fairafric comes in and takes fair trade to the next level by promoting the development of local economic structures and creating jobs in the processing and supply industry. As part of our mission, we built the first factory in rural Ghana in 2020. It is powered by photovoltaics and now employs around 90 people.
But why "Made in Africa"?
We don't just want to fight poverty, we want to offer fair opportunities for the future. That is why the starting salary at fairafric in Ghana is 3.8 of the local minimum wage incl. health & social insurance for the whole family.
Better infrastructure and skilled jobs
Currently, it is still difficult to create value in Africa because of the poorly developed infrastructure. But if there were more companies like fairafric in the region, the quality of local services and infrastructure would increase, which in turn would attract new companies. Moreover, micro-farming is closely linked to poverty, a condition that does not exist in the manufacturing sector. We believe that real change can only happen when people move away from smallholder farming.
Access to health care and education
For us, it goes without saying that all fairafric production workers and their families have health insurance. This way they can afford health care and necessary treatments do not have to be postponed due to lack of money. We all know that education costs money, right? But in most cases, smallholders can barely afford the fees for primary school. A qualified job secures the children's education all the way to a university degree.
Sustainability and equality
Together with our partners, we help farmers to manage their farms more sustainably. At the same time, we are constantly working to optimise our own sustainability - for example, our chocolate has been produced in a climate-neutral way since the end of 2018. Both in Germany and in Ghana, we stand for equality in the workplace. Equal opportunities, flexible working hours and women in management positions are a matter of course at fairafric.
As you have hopefully learned in this article, while there are many seals and certifications that set standards in chocolate production, these do not fully ensure the fair production of chocolate. The solution to this is to become part of the Fairchain movement, which values the principles of Fairtrade but goes far beyond them.
Did you get interested in what really fair produced chocolate, which is completely "Made in Africa", tastes like? In our assortment you will find a wide range from milk chocolate to vegan chocolate, in which you are sure to find your new favourite variety. Really fair enjoyment tastes best after all!