Dairy Milk Chocolate to go Fairtrade

Cadbury, the British chocolate maker, has announced that it will pursue fairtrade certification for Dairy Milk, its best-selling chocolate bar. Cadbury and the Fairtrade Foundation, the British arm of the the global fairtrade movement announced yesterday that the certification will be achieved by the Summer of 2009.

The cocoa will come from Ghana, traditionally the key cocoa supplier for Cadbury. The decision will triple the amount of fairtrade cocoa exported from Ghana. The cocoa will be sourced from existing fairtrade certified cooperatives, like Kuapa Kokoo, but Cadbury, through its Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, will also help cocoa farmers create new cooperatives. Fairtrade certification requires that farmers form democratically organized cooperatives.

This is an important milestone for the fairtrade movement. At the moment, the guaranteed price of $1,600/ton is not really relevant as global cocoa prices are still above that floor price. But the $150/ton social premium will contribute much needed funds for community projects–water pumps, latrines, schools, etc.–that will have a direct impact on the lives of farmers and their families. The estimated 15,000 tons of fair trade cocoa will yield $2.25 million for such projects.

The Fairtrade Foundation and FLO-cert (the certification arm of the Fairtrade Labelling Organization) will monitor the progress of the project and audit the supply chain.

In addition, Cadbury is investing £45 million over the next decade into sustainable cocoa production. The difference between Cadbury’s approach and the one just announced by the Gates Foundation and the U.S. chocolate industry is striking. Cadbury has realized that attention to sustainable growing practices has to be connected to producer prices and social infrastructure. The U.S. industry has so far avoided any talk about supporting producer prices.

Cadbury’s decision can probably be traced to the fact that the fairtrade movement is much more prominent in the UK. Over 80 percent of consumers are aware of fairtrade and large grocery chains routinely stock a wide array of fairtrade products.

One can only hope the US chocolate industry takes this example to heart.

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