The West African cocoa industry, which accounts for almost two-thirds of world production, has put an ultimatum before the major chocolate producers: either pay a higher price for the cocoa, or cease to sell the chocolate as ‘sustainable’.
Like many other commodities, cocoa is traded on futures contracts: currently the average price for a tonne of cocoa in December is 2,372 dollars (2,100 euros). Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana in particular want to raise this price in order to be able to pay the cocoa farmers better: in July they proposed a surcharge of 400 dollars per tonne.
Director Yves Koné of the Ivorian interest group Conseil du Cafe-Cacao said that it is impossible to work with farmers and invest in sustainability, and at the same time, refuse to pay the farmers properly, as Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf quotes him.
Continue to invest in sustainability
Some large chocolate producers, such as Mars and Hershey, understand the demands of the farmers: "We are absolutely committed to purchasing on the basis of the income threshold and are investing in our sustainability projects", says Mars.
However, not everyone is convinced of the effectiveness of the ultimatum: analysts point out that higher cocoa prices can in itself contribute to certain abuses, such as underpayment and deforestation. The higher price would make it more attractive to produce more and thus to cut down more forests for land. The overproduction that may result from this may in turn have a negative effect on the price.