Fairmade chocolate brings more benefits to producer countries

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Cocoa farmers in Ghana. Pic: RA
Cocoa farmers in Ghana. Pic: RA

Related tags Chocolate Cocoa Sustainability

A new industry group known as Fairmade is working to raise awareness in the cocoa sector of the benefits of producing chocolate at the origin of ingredients in developing countries.

According to MIA, a chocolate brand short for Made In Africa, Fairmade is an initiative to showcase a more impactful model of fair trade that can be used to multiply benefits for producer communities in poor countries. For example, chocolate bars made from start to finish at the origin of the cocoa increase the financial benefit to African communities by 200% to 500% compared to the export of cocoa beans.

MIA has partnered with other origin makers to unite under the Fairmade concept, a term officially recognised by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) earlier this year. In its 2024 review of chocolate brands, Ethical Consumer incorporated value-added-at-source as part of a company’s score, demonstrating that the Fairmade approach is gaining recognition.

Brand co-founder, Brett Beach, said: “MIA is different from 99% of chocolates on the market because it is FAIRMADE, meaning it is manufactured from bean to bar in Africa. Fairmade is clearly able to contribute more to producer communities, so why is it not part of a certification scheme? If the major schemes can certify ingredients based on better conditions for farmers, why can’t they also certify products based on their contribution to producer communities?"

Developing economies

He said supporting subsistence farmers is important, but populations in developing economies cannot depend on small-scale farming alone. “The biggest value and the most skilled jobs are created in manufacturing, distribution, and retail.”

Piers Adamson, director of Scoff Consulting and experienced UK importer said: “Chocolate production jobs are exported with each sack of cocoa that leaves Africa. According to Research Gate, cocoa farmers and, by extension, cocoa-producing countries only get 6% of the retail value of a chocolate bar if they export their beans.

“Much more than cocoa goes into making a chocolate bar, and it’s time we started thinking about impact holistically, from the farm to the packaging to the printing and the chocolate making. In fact, most of the added value happens beyond the farm gate. The sum of the parts has the greatest impact, and this is what Fairmade represents.”

Beach explained that Fairmade is a natural evolution of the current fair trade model “in a world where we are all interconnected but do not share equally in the benefits of commerce.

He said the scheme is a proven way to support producer communities with skilled jobs that create prosperity, “so we think it’s time for certifiers to take a hard look at what this approach has to offer.”

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