Today, over 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from Western Africa; Ivory Coast and Ghana alone make up over half of the world’s supply of cacao. In these two countries, the average farmer makes $200/year ($0.55/day).
$200 dollars a year, if that. The estimated global value of the Chocolate industry is worth over $100 Billion dollars a year! How is it that the cacao farmers are earning way below the globally defined poverty line?
These farmers who are growing and harvesting cacao are working in exploitative conditions, especially children. It is estimated that over 2 million children are working in slavery or hazardous conditions with low pay, or without pay entirely, in these countries to supply cheap chocolate to the global market - especially to Europe which receives between 97-99% of its cacao from Africa.
The problem with corporations regulating themselves, is they seldom wish to do anything to harm their profits. Child labor is caused by poverty. It is up to us, the consumers and the chocolate industry to get cacao farmers out of poverty and children out of hazardous working conditions.
Today, for an average bar of chocolate, it is estimated that between 3-6% of the price of the bar of chocolate ends up in the hands of the farmers.
On the other side of the coin, around 80% ends up in the hands of the retailers and manufacturers, and their supply-chain, and around 15% ends up in the hands of powerful cacao traders (of which the industry is dominated by only a few companies).
As consumers, we should take the responsibility in doing our research and finding out where the chocolate we are consuming comes from. Is the chocolate you are consuming attributing to the millions of children working long hours, carrying heavy loads…Is the chocolate you are buying organic? Or is it affecting the health of the cacao famers and children because they are exposed to agro-chemicals?
The recently published Cocoa Barometer showed that the per capita income of most cocoa farmers remains far below globally defined poverty levels.
Mahatma Gandhi famously said to be the change you wish to see in the world.
Here at Pital Chocolate Paradise, we see a different vision for how to produce chocolate and cacao in a responsible and ethical way. To do this requires taking responsibility for the entire supply-chain.
We visit and get to know each farmer that we buy our cacao from on the local level. Being a Tree-to-Bar Chocolate Factory, we purchase fresh cacao fruits directly from nearby farmers on the island, and pay the farmer a thriving wage to incentivize the farmers to take care of their farms while lifting themselves and their families out of the cycle of poverty. After the fresh cacao fruits reach our farm, we manage the rest of the supply chain on our own land to ensure that the chocolate being sold to consumers is treated with love, honesty, transparency, and fairness.
Imagine a world where everyone who touches the delicious food of the gods is treated equally and fair.
The model of making tree to bar chocolate at Pital Chocolate Paradise is evidence that this reality is existing already. This model can be scaled and grow to envelop the entire global business model of cacao to redistribute the revenue fairly across the entire world.
We need more voices calling for the change we wish to see. This is something to think about the next time you want to buy a bar of chocolate. Eat sustainably, ethically, and responsibly.