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Cocoa initiative to boost farmer incomes and supply, claims Kraft

By Jane Byrne , 31-Aug-2010

Kraft said work conducted by the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership initiative in Ghana will see more cocoa farmer organisations becoming Fairtrade certified by the end of 2010, to ensure sustainability of supply and a guaranteed income for growers.

The UK confectioner, now owned by Kraft, launched the programme back in 2008, saying its overarching objective was to support sustainable cocoa communities and improve the lives of over 500,000 cocoa farmers and their families by 2018.

And the initiative pledged investment of around £45m over a-10-year period in key cocoa regions in Ghana, South East Asia, India and the Caribbean.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fair Trade Foundation, in praising the Cadbury programme, noted the benefits the partnership has generated for the Fairtrade cooperative, Kuapa Kokoo, and she said that she expects the 10 new Ghanaian farmer groups to achieve similar returns when certified.

In March 2009, Cadbury announced that its Dairy Milk bar was going Fairtrade, making it the first mass-market chocolate in the world to use Fairtrade cocoa; previously, the ethical certification make had been confined to niche products and premium brands.

ConfectioneryNews.com contacted the Dairy Milk maker to determine whether the expected Fairtrade certification of further cooperatives would expand the confectioner's use of Fairtrade cocoa beans in its other brands but a comment was not forthcoming in time for publication.

Commitment concerns

The takeover of the UK chocolate maker by Kraft in February this year sparked concerns that the US group would renege on the Cadbury commitment to use only Fairtrade cocoa in the Dairy Milk range, which is sold in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

However, Kraft stressed in the months following the takeover that it already worked "extensively" with sustainably sourced cocoa and coffee suppliers and that it planned to maintain Cadbury's contracts with the Fairtrade Foundation.

And, indeed, yesterday saw an additional scheme being launched under the Cadbury partnership – the Cocoa Ambassadors programme – which is a two year initiative involving representatives from third level institutions working on projects in cocoa growing communities to encourage the youth to return to the cultivation of the crop.

Youth involvement

Nick Bunker, president of Kraft Foods UK and Ireland, reported that research conducted for the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership by the University of Ghana and Sussex University found that youth migration from the cocoa industry was one of increasing concern for long term supply of the bean.

"To tackle youth migration from the cocoa growing communities, the ambassadors would work with young people to encourage involvement and interest in the industry and raise awareness about the importance of cocoa production to the economy of Ghana,” he stated at the programme’s launch in Accra yesterday.

Growth curve

Sales of Fairtrade certified products increased 15 per cent in 2009, according to the global Fairtrade body, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO).

FLO said that sales of Fairtrade-certified sugar and cocoa saw the biggest sales increases last year, as several major confectionery manufacturers, as well as Cadbury, made commitments to source fairly traded ingredients, including Nestlé’s Kit Kat.

Fairtrade sales grew ‘exponentially’ in Eastern Europe, South Africa, and many countries in the global south during 2009, FLO said, and shoppers in the most established Fairtrade markets also increased their spending on Fairtrade products.

An estimated 1.2 million farmers and workers sell through the Fairtrade scheme, with benefits including higher-than-market income and funds for development projects.

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