British shoppers urged to buy Fairtrade chocolate over Easter

British shoppers are being urged to buy Fairtrade chocolate this Easter as the cocoa industry faces turmoil caused by poor harvests.

Cocoa prices have soared to new records in recent weeks after extreme weather and disease hit yields in the world’s largest exporters – Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Cocoa beans were trading above 10,000 US dollars (£7,900) a tonne on world commodity markets on Tuesday, with prices having already doubled in 2024.

Some popular Easter eggs from manufacturers including Mars, Lindt and Cadbury cost at least 50% more than a year ago, while others have shrunk in size, according to a study by consumer group Which?.

Ahead of the Easter weekend, Fairtrade UK is urging consumers to buy chocolate that is made using cocoa bought from farmers for a fairer price.

Maltesers, Mars multipack bars, Green & Blacks, Tony’s Chocolonely and own-brand products at supermarkets like the Co-op, Lidl and Marks & Spencer are among those that use Fairtrade cocoa.

According to the organisation, many farmers in West Africa live below the extreme poverty line and earn 6% of the final value of a chocolate bar on average.

While higher prices seem like a windfall for farmers, Fairtrade said the causes are concerning.

The record prices come after a drop in global supply caused by the effects of climate change as well as increased costs of production and living for farmers due to inflation.

The organisation said the cycle of “boom and bust pricing” is unsustainable for smallholder farmers, who need more stability to invest in their farms and adapt to increasingly unpredictable weather conditions.

“They tell us that it’s becoming very difficult to grow cocoa because rainfall patterns have changed, temperatures are rising and farming costs have gone up.

“When your crop fails, you lose your income.”

Fairtrade said its minimum price and premium provide farmers with a safety net, with the aim of covering their farming costs and enabling investments.

“Together, we can all help cocoa farmers become more resilient, one Easter egg at a time, by looking for the Fairtrade mark when we are out shopping,” Mr Gidney said.

The overall price of chocolate has increased by 12.6% in a year – significantly more than the 5.6% rise seen on supermarket food and drink generally, according to the Which? supermarket food and drink inflation tracker.

Analysts have said price rises seen for chocolate products this Easter are likely to be part of a longer trend.

Fairtrade warned that structural poverty among farmers is one of the root causes of deforestation, as low incomes leads people to turn to raw materials in forests that can fulfil basic needs such as food and energy.

Over the past 30 years, Ghana is estimated to have lost 65% of its forest cover, while the Ivory Coast has lost around 90% of its forests, exacerbating the effects of climate change in these countries.

Fairtrade, which is marking its 30th anniversary this year, is calling on the UK Government to deliver funding and legal changes to its proposed deforestation legislation in order to support smallholder farmers with the cost of compliance and build sustainable businesses.

The new rules being developed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) would see businesses banned from trading in commodities linked to illegal deforestation.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –