The visit of UK minister Mike Foster to Cadbury’s Birmingham factory last week aimed to "renew a working commitment" with the chocolate firm and to discuss fair deals for cocoa suppliers in Africa, pushing the issue of Fairtrade chocolate further into the limelight.
The visit comes just a few days after Cadbury announced its commitment to source Fairtrade cocoa for its iconic Dairy Milk chocolate bars and drinking chocolate in the British and Irish markets. Sales of Dairy Milk in the UK and Ireland are worth £200m (€214m). The firm pledged to achieve Fairtrade certification for these products by the end of this summer.
"Cadbury’s Dairy Milk announcement is a fantastic boost which means that more families in Ghana will be able to feed and school their children and know they'll get a fair price in these uncertain times,” said minister for International Development Mike Foster at Cadbury's Birmingham factory last week.
Structured on the premise that trade, and a fair price, is a vital route out of poverty for cocoa farmers, the Fairtrade network guarantees suppliers a minimum 'best deal' price.
And Cadbury's recent move to Fairtrade has not only catapulted the notion of Fairtrade into the minds of chocolate consumers - Cadbury sells 300 million chocolate bars a year - but crucially, also represents a decisive act by the company towards building long-term relationships, grounded on fair prices, with its suppliers.
Cadbury and the UK's department for International Development (DFID) have partnered up, through the Business Call to Action initiative, in Ghana to engender a fair deal for farmers. More precisely, the department's office in Ghana has worked closely with Cadbury 'on the ground'.
"We use our experience in Ghana by helping Cadbury make the best decision possible," a press officer at the UK government department told ConfectioneryNews.com.
The UK government office provides practical knowledge and help, from taking Cadbury representatives to villages and farmers, to indicating geographical priorities for sustainable housing or education. Even providing information on where a well should be built, and in which village.
"Literally every time Cadbury goes out to Ghana, our office facilitates on the ground," added the press officer.
She continued that Cadbury, that has been involved with Ghana for more than 100 years, has "some really good ideas" that the DFID office can "help turn into a tangible act".
Cadbury sources the majority of its cocoa – nearly two-thirds – for its UK products from Ghana, the world's second biggest exporter of cocoa after Ivory Coast.
Last year the firm launched its Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, an initiative under which the company will invest ₤45m (€48m) over the next ten years to secure sustainable cocoa farming in Ghana, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean.
Fairtrade products are picking up in pace – UK sales were up 43 per cent last year and an extra boost is anticipated this year from Cadbury chocolate. Sales of all Fairtrade products in 2008, that includes bananas and cotton, totalled £700m (€780m).