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Is Cadburys chocolate Fairtrade?

No. Cadbury chocolate isn’t Fairtrade, even though used to be.

Cadbury had been part of the Fairtrade programme from 2009 up until 2016, when Cadbury left the programme and started using its own, in house equivalent (big red flag) - Cocoa Life.

Cocoa Life sounds excellent if you read about it on Cadbury’s website. They claim to teach cocoa farmers to grow crops in a way that looks after the environment, It ensures cocoa farmers can earn a better living, meaning better quality of life for their families & communities and It cares for cocoa growing communities, so children can have access to education.

But is this all true? Again, no. Not doing a great job here Cadbury…

In a recent documentary on Channel 4, Dispatches went to visit cocoa farms in Ghana, many of which were Cadbury’s Cocoa Life farms - meaning that the farmers are probities against using child labour and they will be paid enough to survive. And this wasn’t the case.

Channel 4 found children as young as 10 working on cocoa farms that supplied Cadbury and were ‘Cocoa Life’ farms. It’s illegal for children under 13 to work on cocoa farms in Ghana. And under 18s can work on cocoa farms but not p hazardous work (working with sharp machetes, using chemicals, lifting heavy loads etc).

The children Cannel 4 spoke to were 10 and 11, both using large machetes to cut weeds. One of the children even said, “our father sometimes stops us going to school if there is work to do”.

This is just one of many stories told and displaying children working on Cadbury Cocoa Life farms in this one documentary.

Child labour is often used because cocoa farmers aren’t paid enough to hire workers so they have to rely on their children to help on the farm. Meaning children do get to, or can’t even afford to attend school.

A farmer who supplied his cocoa to Cadbury, via a Cocoa Life certified organisation, told Channel 4 that he expects to harvest 30 sacks of cocoa (50kg each) that year. He sells each sack for around £80, a price which is set by the Ghanian government and is also paid a premium by Cocoa Life (similar to the fair trade premium).

How much is this premium paid by Cocoa Life? £1. That’s right £1 extra per sack of cocoa. So in total, he will earn an ‘extra’ £30 from Cadbury & Cocoa life. Not much of a bonus, or incentive. He later says that around 1/3 of his earnings will be to pay workers he hired to help the harvest. And he also mentions that the cost of running his farm is more than what he is paid by the government, so an extra £30 per year doesn’t even begin to make a difference. 

Next time you’re going to eat a bar of Cadbury chocolate and see the Cocoa Life symbol, take a moment to think about these sorts of stories, they are far from being the only ones. Cadbury doesn’t pay enough to cocoa farmers, despite the CEO of Mondelez (who ones Cadbury) being paid £14.5 million in 2021 and Mondelez making £3.2 billion profit in the same year.

This issue has been known for too long and not enough change has happened.

Cadbury not being Fairtrade is only the tip of the iceberg.

Fairtrade itself has issues, buts that’s a blog for another day….