Rise in US confectionery sales boosts Fairtrade payments to cocoa farmers

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Consumer demand for sustainability-driven purchasing will continue to shape the business of chocolate, according to Fairtrade. Pic: Fairtrade
Consumer demand for sustainability-driven purchasing will continue to shape the business of chocolate, according to Fairtrade. Pic: Fairtrade

Related tags Fair trade Cocoa

People are paying more attention than ever to the conditions behind the products they buy as a way to make a difference in the world, according to new research findings released by GlobeScan and Fairtrade International.

American’s love affair with chocolate, which expanded by 1.8% in 2020 to reach $18.92bn, according to Statista, saw Fairtrade cocoa sales volumes top other commodities and grow by 27% over the year, resulting in almost $3m in Fairtrade Premium payments for cocoa farmers. 

New business commitments complement long-standing partnerships that continue to drive significant impact for cocoa farmers. Fairtrade’s 10-year collaboration with Mars, for example, has generated around $8.5m in Premium, supporting 17,000 farmers to invest in their organisations and increase their earnings.

In the UK, total sales of Fairtrade products in retail outgrew total grocery, increasing by 13.6% to reach over £1bn in the food and drink market, according to Kantar (April 2021). Fairtrade cocoa sales volumes topped other commodities and grow by 3% over the year, generating an outstanding £6 million in Fairtrade Premium payments for cocoa farmers.

Shoppers’ ethical priorities cover a range of social and environmental commitments. When asked what issues are most motivating for people when choosing what to buy, ensuring no child labour was the top issue, followed by safe products, reducing poverty for farmers and workers, and protecting against deforestation. 64% of those who recognised the Fairtrade label said they were willing to pay more for a product to ensure producers are paid a fair price.

In the Netherlands, Fairtrade cocoa continued to experience strong growth of 16% in 2020. As a result, Fairtrade farmers received approximately $3.1m in Fairtrade Premium for cocoa beans sold to the Dutch market.

Across the border in Belgium, sales of Fairtrade certified cocoa products grew by 35% in 2020, according to its annual report.

Globescan research said 53% of people used their buying power to make a positive difference on an issue they care about over the past year. Many chose to put more Fairtrade items into shopping baskets over an alternative.

Personal action

Its research encompassing 15 markets worldwide reveals that more people than ever before want to take personal action to live sustainably and buy more responsibly. The research reported that over half (57%) consumers globally pledged to shop at stores or visit a cafe with a strong Fairtrade commitment. This data echoes a boom in Fairtrade sales in many countries in 2020 outside of the study, showing that consumer intentions are translating into action at the shelf.

Peter d’Angremond, CEO of Fairtrade Netherlands, said: “Fairtrade is big business now worldwide, especially when it comes to chocolate and confectionery, and firms are increasingly investing in their cocoa supply chains. Many brands and retailers have declared new commitments in the past year.​”

Committed Fairtrade retailers in the UK such as Co-op and Waitrose, who converted entire categories to using Fairtrade cocoa, continue to drive positive change for Fairtrade cocoa farmers.

Louisa Cox, Fairtrade’s Director of Impact, said: “The upward trends in increased consumer demand for sustainability-driven purchasing seem likely to continue to shape the business of chocolate. Legislation that requires companies to ensure human rights are respected in supply chains is gathering force, including in the European Union. Supporting the creation of robust legislation – recognising living income as a human right – is another avenue for citizens to make their voice heard. At the same time, shoppers voting with their wallets is a very strong signal that can deliver real change for farmers.

“Fairtrade is calling for legislation designed to put farmer and worker interests first, and which pushes business to invest in improvements, rather than simply avoiding problems.”

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