A new report published during Fairtrade Fortnight (which runs across the UK from 27 February to 12 March) has exposed the environmental risks that could lead to some of the UK’s favourite foods becoming endangered.
Over 350,000 tonnes of cocoa is imported to the UK each year originating from countries where production faces risks including climate change and loss of critical ecosystems caused by climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.
Studies suggest that many cocoa-growing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – which produce over half of the world’s cocoa – will likely become too hot to grow the crop by 2050.
According to Fairtrade, during 2001-2018, cocoa was associated with over 732,000 ha of deforestation worldwide - an area almost twice the size of the county of Sussex - which has been deforested.
Cocoa farmer Sadick Abanga, from Kumasi, Ghana said: “I didn’t know I was punishing the land, now because of this [Fairtrade] project I’ve seen the benefits, there are more nutrients in the soil. The training officer always comes to the field, even when I am not there he goes to my farm and tells me what’s good or bad, using banana irrigation during the dry season.”
‘The Endangered Aisle’
As part of Fairtrade fortnight, an immersive retail space, ‘The Endangered Aisle’, has opened in Shoreditch, London to highlight the urgent need to protect the future of food and the small switches shoppers can make to play their part.
This follows research that reveals significant sections of the British public believe that climate change will affect their weekly shop, with 33% saying they think availability will be affected and 41% stating that it will affect price. However, only 38% have made active changes and 23% are not sure how to help, according to Fairtrade. Meanwhile, only 16% of those surveyed check the country of origin of all the products they buy.
Mike Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, because it may not be on our shelves forever. Today, climate breakdown is making it harder and harder to grow food crops, making our food security ever more vulnerable.
“There is a risk that farmers will have to stop farming. In some worst-case scenarios, certain varieties of the foods they grow for UK consumption could become luxury items. That’s why it’s important that farmers and workers receive a fair price that will enable them to invest in transitioning to sustainable and climate-resilient ways of production.
“We can all do this by choosing Fairtrade. Sustainability doesn’t have to cost the earth. Whatever your budget and wherever you shop, when you choose Fairtrade you support farmers to take care of the environment.”