Fairtrade’s video campaign tackles ‘unethical sourcing’ on World Chocolate Day
Fairtrade - Cotes d'Ivoire Cacao
A major global campaign has been launched by Fairtrade, centred on a new stop-motion animation film, “Unwrap a Fairer Future,’ addressing key issues behind what it asserts are ‘unethical sourcing practices by some major chocolate companies,’ writes Neill Barston.
The week-long initiative culminated with a debut screening of the organisation’s latest initiative, titled Bitter Sweet, on World Chocolate Day (July 7), and examines how its ongoing engagement within key producing nations in West Africa is making an impact.
As the global charity explained, its animation has been produced in collaboration with Niels Hoebers, unveiling the story of two bespoke bars of chocolate.
At first glance, both look good enough to eat, but once the wrapper is unpeeled, the bars tell two very different stories. Contrasting scenes are depicted in relief on the surfaces of the bars: one is stamped with bitter truths about trade injustice, while the other is imprinted with the sweet benefits of Fairtrade cocoa.
Viewers watching the animation on the bitter bar will be transported to the cocoa lands of West Africa, where uncertified cocoa farmers who are unable to grow their crop on Fairtrade terms face injustice and low prices, leading to poverty and deforestation that holds communities back.
The film also shows a sweeter side in examining the lives of farmers engaging with its certified cocoa scheme who benefit from rigorous independent standards, receive support to adapt their farming practices to meet those standards, and earn fair prices for their cocoa as a result.
“We’re putting the important truth in people’s minds, making the bitter cost of each non-Fairtrade chocolate bar instantly apparent,” said Nilufar Verjee, Fairtrade’s director of public engagement and global cocoa campaign lead. “This is a captivating and highly shareable way to discover why cocoa farmers who grow the cocoa in our favourite chocolate bars deserve better incomes.”
The Bitter Sweet campaign began last week with cocoa farmers sharing their own personal experiences, followed by regions around the world sharing information on social media channels about the charity’s work, and how its products can make a difference to key farming communities.
As Fairtrade noted, many consumers remain unaware of reality of how their favourite confectionery, desserts and treats are sourced, which its latest campaign aims to tackle.
Significantly, the organisation expressed concern that low cocoa prices, the continuing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising global temperatures mean that farmers don’t have the resources to withstand the shocks they face. This undermines their ongoing efforts to escape poverty and has serious consequences for the long term supply of chocolate.
The price of cocoa has slumped again this season due to weakened consumer demand for chocolate through the pandemic, causing grave concern amongst farmers, with some producers making less than $1 a day on average. With chronically low incomes they are living in poverty and are unable to pay for essentials like food, send their children to school or pay for healthcare if they fall sick.
Furthermore, the global charity said it hopes consumers will continue to support its cause, so that farmers and workers in low-income countries get a sweeter deal for their produce, rather than a bitter one.
According to latest research from the organisation and independent research and strategy consultancy, Globescan (2021), has revealed the majority of people expect companies they buy their chocolate from to source responsibility, offer transparency and protect the environment.
In fact, 57% of people are willing to pay more for products and brands that work to improve society and the environment. Furthermore, in the past year, over half of consumers say they have changed their purchase choices to make a difference on an economic, environmental, social, or political issue.
Adjoa Andoh, the actress known most recently for her role on “Bridgerton,” spoke in support of the campaign. She said: “Every bar of chocolate that you buy, every cocoa bean, means decent healthcare, education, a collective voice all the way through the supply chain. So today, if you can make that choice, choose Fairtrade. Make the choice for hope, a future and joy, through the delicious medium of chocolate. Happy Fairtrade World Chocolate Day!”
Farmers who are able to sell their cocoa on Fairtrade terms have more money in their pockets, to tackle the ravages of poverty, social injustice and climate change.
The safety net of the organisation’s minimum price begins when prices drop, enabling cocoa farmers to cover the cost of production, while its premium – an additional payment for every tonne of beans sold on Fairtrade terms – is believed to be the highest non-negotiable premium of any major standard.
Farmers democratically decide for themselves how to invest their Premium, allowing them to plan for the future. At the same time, Fairtrade’s West African Cocoa Programme trains farmers in best practice growing techniques.