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Fair trade chocolate: The importance of sourcing ethical cocoa


Who doesn’t love chocolate?

Whether it’s a sneaky bar to beat the afternoon slump or choc chips baked into a warm mid morning muffin, chocolate is one of the most popular treats across the globe. Some say it dates back to 1900BC, when cocoa plants were farmed in Central America. And we’ve loved it ever since. 

When you are enjoying a hot chocolate or a square or two off a block, it’s probably never crossed your mind where the cocoa you’re consuming came from - or what the life of the person who farmed it is like. 

This week we are taking a look at the cocoa industry and why it’s now more important than ever to buy Fairtrade

Cocoa production in the developing world 

Cocoa is grown in hot and humid climates near the equator, and the West African countries of Ghana, Nigeria, The Ivory Coast and Cameroon produce 70% of the world's cocoa. That’s a whole lot of chocolate! 

Small family-run farms are the biggest growers of cocoa across the world, and it goes without saying that this tough manual job is vitally important to their income and livelihoods. 

In fact, currently there are an estimated 50 million people across the planet who depend on the cocoa industry for their futures. 

The dangers of cocoa farming 

Unfortunately, particularly in West Africa, there is a high risk for exploitation of cocoa farmers

Poor, hard-working families can be underpaid for their product while the high cost of cocoa production means slave labour on cocoa farms is widespread and often involves children. As competition for cocoa products grow, farmers are forced to accept far below what they should be paid. According to, “On average, cocoa farmers earn just 6% of the final value of a bar of chocolate.” This creates an ongoing cycle of poverty that is near impossible to break. 

Not only that, but many cocoa trees are being damaged or becoming diseased across these parts of the world and there is little funding available in these struggling families for their upkeep. 

These shocking facts prove how important it is to ensure the rest of the world makes ethical choices when purchasing cocoa and chocolate. 

What is fair trade chocolate? 

The need for regulation in the cocoa industry gave way to the first Fairtrade certification in 1994

Fairtrade was developed to ensure cocoa farmers not only receive a fair price for their hard work, but also a stable price that they can depend on. It also assists in ensuring cocoa farms are maintained and sustainable

Currently only 10% of the world's cocoa is currently Fairtrade and at the time of publishing this, 263,825 farmers across 21 countries work with Fairtrade. The good news is that every year the Fairtrade sector grows in leaps and bounds, which means more cocoa families are living better lives. And with Fairtrade now making other competitive sectors such as the banana and tea industries fairer, there’s a lot of hope for the future. 

Fairtrade chocolate is available at many retailers across the world and Australia. To learn more about Fairtrade and where to buy Fairtrade chocolate in Australia, visit Fairtrade ANZ.

La Española Olive Oil’s exclusive stockist in Australia, Coles, stocks a range of fair trade food items, including chocolate, tea and coffee. Just look for the fair trade stamp during your next shop.