With Easter falling in April, most of us will be tucking into some chocolate this month.
Chocolate is produced from cocoa beans grown in a narrow band across the equator, needing warm temperatures and plenty of rainfall. The farms which produce the cocoa beans are usually quite small-scale independent producers who need us to do the right thing; pay fairly for their product so we can continue to enjoy that melt in the mouth treat.
At the time of writing Fairtrade Fortnight is coming to a close. These two weeks starting at the end of February have been a calendar event for the last twenty years and are a celebration of the Fairtrade movement promoting the scheme and the products produced under the Fairtrade banner.
This year Waitrose And Partners has pledged that all the cocoa it uses in own label confectionery products will be certified Fairtrade by the end of the year. This means you can feel you’re making a difference when you eat chocolate (as if we need any more motivation!).
Currently all chocolate bars within the own label range are already Fairtrade and this will extend to chocolate boxes, Christmas treats and Easter eggs.
Waitrose And Partners confectionery buyer Elizabeth Sutcliffe said “as a business it’s the right thing for us to do to ensure we are sourcing our cocoa sustainably. Cocoa is different to other products as the beans come from lots of small family farms, so there isn’t just one farm or supplier”.
In 2016 there were 226,579 cocoa farmers registered to produce Fairtrade cocoa. The cocoa is bought by large manufacturers who turn the beans into liquid chocolate, which is then bought by the confectionery companies Waitrose work with to produce their own label products.
Fairtrade means there is a guaranteed minimum price and a premium is paid to the producer. This makes the producers business sustainable as they can invest in farms, send children to school and make improvements in their communities. Typically, a cocoa farmer in the Ivory Coast lives on 74p a day. Fairtrade has calculated that to achieve a living income this should be at least £1.86.
Ensuring a minimum price and paying a premium is vital to farmers who are at the mercy of the commodities market. In January 2018 cocoa was being traded at $1,322 per metric ton compared to $1,705 last month, with plenty of fluctuations in between. Waitrose And Partners contributes around $3.3 million in Fairtrade premiums and with 6 million people depending on farming cocoa for their livelihoods it’s vital to ensure their farms are sustainable.
Other products which come under the Fairtrade logo include tea, coffee, wine, flowers and bananas. In 2007 Waitrose became the first UK retailer to sell only Fairtrade bananas, so the move to Fairtrade only confectionery is a logical step.
Although Fairtrade Fortnight is over you can buy the products all year round and, remember, when you are tucking into your Fairtrade chocolate you’re making a difference to farmers in West Africa, enabling them to earn a sustainable living, so please do your bit!
Team Manager Customer Service – Little Waitrose, Amersham
Don’t forget you can pick up copies of the hiya bucks magazines in the following stores: Amersham, Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Hazlemere and High Wycombe