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Supply Chain
The Next Frontier for Fairtrade:
Living Incomes in Cocoa

Two forward-thinking brands have deepened their Fairtrade partnerships by making additional financial commitments to cocoa farmers in their supply chains.

At Fairtrade, our mission of achieving fair wages for farmers worldwide is an ever-evolving journey. The next evolution of this goal is to ensure farmers receive a living income for the goods they sell through their hard work. A living income means sufficient funds to afford a decent standard of living for all household members — including a nutritious diet, clean water, decent housing, education, healthcare and other essential needs, plus a little extra to enable them to take care of their businesses, their communities, and the environment we share — once the farm costs are covered. In short, a living income is about making sure cocoa farmers receive enough for today, and a chance to plan for the future.

Cocoa farmers in West Africa, where two-thirds of the world’s supply is sourced, are often living on less than $2 per day — facing challenges brought on by extreme poverty, child labor abuses, the effects of climate change and living with limited infrastructure. Fairtrade International’s rigorous standards and auditing process ensure cocoa farmers receive fair incomes and working conditions. However, living income is a critical step in fighting these issues. 

Fairtrade recently announced partnerships with Ben & Jerry’s and Lidl to pioneer two unique strategies to deepen their financial commitment to cocoa farmers striving toward a living income. The goal is that these initiatives not only make a measurable impact in the short term, but also motivate other brands sourcing cocoa to follow suit. 

Image credit: Ben & Jerry's

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Ben & Jerry’s is offering additional funds on top of the Fairtrade Premium to support farmers who provide cocoa for its chocolate ice cream base in closing the living income gap. From October 2020 onwards, roughly 5,000 Fairtrade cocoa farmers in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain will receive approximately an additional $600,000 over the next year. This amount is on top of the annual Fairtrade Premium of around $970,000, and the Ivorian government’s minimum price for cocoa that all companies are required to pay. The higher prices Ben & Jerry’s will be paying is the latest step in a package of living income interventions that the company has implemented together with Fairtrade since 2015 — which also include productivity, diversification and co-operative strengthening. The higher prices will be closely monitored through partners in West Africa to understand exactly how they contribute towards a sustainable livelihood for farmers.

Image credit: Lidl

Lidl — another long-time, global Fairtrade partner — just launched its “Way to Go!” bars in US stores, marking the first private-label chocolate bar in the US that contributes directly to living incomes for cocoa farmers. Lidl’s financial commitment provides support for income-generating programs and education, such as diversifying into new categories like honey, rice or soap and developing new farming techniques to increase yields and income over the long term.

Global brands are showing it is possible to use the networks and capabilities of an existing sustainability partner such as Fairtrade to deepen impact for cocoa farmers. Cocoa prices, child labor and farmers’ needs have been in the news a lot recently, perhaps encouraging more brands to dig deeper into their supply chains and create more sustainability for cocoa producers. For more information, visit fairtradeamerica.org.

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