Fairtrade cocoa sales volumes have been growing steadily over the last four years at an average annual rate of 27 percent. In the 2015-16 period, sales growth reached a record 34 percent compared to the year before, with a total of 136,543 MT of cocoa sold under Fairtrade conditions. From these sales, producer organizations received €24.6 million in Fairtrade Premium funds. The bulk of this growth was concentrated in Côte d’Ivoire and Peru.
It reflects a concerted effort on the part of Fairtrade to expand the market for Fairtrade cocoa, and a growing commitment to sustainability in the sector. Over the last decade, companies in the confectionery sector and retailers have stepped up their commitment to tackling some of the most pressing issues undermining the long-term viability of cocoa production. Low productivity, widespread poverty, deforestation, gender inequality, child labour and forced labour are some of the key challenges that threaten the future of cocoa production, especially in West Africa.
While the continuing growth of Fairtrade cocoa sales and the overall increased investment in sustainability programmes are both welcome, the reality is that obstacles still persist. Of the 189 Fairtrade certified cocoa producer organizations, it is important to note that this figure includes two unions (2nd grade producer organizations) representing 77 cooperatives (1st grade producer organizations).
Fairtrade is also enhancing its support efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean, which currently has 73 Fairtrade certified cocoa organizations. In 2017, a new Cocoa Manager was hired to support cooperatives here to obtain market access and improve both their productivity and the quality of their produce.
While other schemes and sustainability programmes focus on improving farm efficiency, Fairtrade believes that a holistic approach to addressing poverty must include a price for cocoa that enables a sustainable livelihood for cocoa farmers. Fairtrade is the only certification scheme of its kind that offers cooperatives a minimum price and a guaranteed Premium payment for cocoa. Currently cooperatives receive a fixed Fairtrade Premium of US$200 per metric tonne of cocoa sold on Fairtrade terms. Unique to Fairtrade, the cooperatives have full decision-making authority on how Premium funds are invested.
2018 will be a critical year for Fairtrade cocoa as a review of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium is currently underway. The review is integrated with Fairtrade’s Living Income Strategy. Already, research has been carried out with more than 3,000 cocoa farmer households in Côte d’Ivoire. Throughout the review consultation process, Fairtrade is closely engaging with Fairtrade cooperatives, commercial actors, governments and civil society across the supply chain to discuss a pricing model that increases benefits for farmers.
Top image: Issouf, cocoa producer from Burkina Faso, works in Fairtrade certified cooperative ECOJAD, a member of Ecookim in Côte d’Ivoire. Image © Eric St-Pierre
 A 1st -grade (producer) organization describes a small producer organization whose legal members are individual small farmers. A 2nd-grade (producer) organization describes a small producer organization whose legal members are exclusively 1st-grade organization affiliates. Read more on: https://www.fairtrade.net/fileadmin/user_upload/content/2009/standards/documents/SPO_EN.pdf
 Fairtrade International (2017), ‘Fairtrade Living Income Strategy’, Available at: https://www.fairtrade.net/fileadmin/user_upload/content/2009/standards/documents/2017-10-23_Fairtrade_Living_Income_strategy_EN.pdf.
 Veldhuyzen, C. (2018, April 09), ‘Will we pay the price it takes to achieve sustainable cocoa livelihoods?’ Available at: https://www.fairtrade.net/new/latest-news/single-view/article/will-we-pay-the-price-it-takes-to-achieve-sustainable-cocoa-livelihoods.html.