Cadbury’s were using Fair Trade Cocoa for generations before the phrase was invented.
Cocoa in Ghana is a smallholding crop, with individual farmers having a hectare or two of mixed crops, including cocoa. It is not a plantation crop as it is in Brazil or Ivory Coast. That is why Ghanaian cocoa is of higher quality, and commands a premium on commodity markets. Cadbury’s chocolate in the UK uses 95% Ghanaian cocoa.
The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, p184
A major reason that Ghana is the most stable and successful of Sub-Saharan African countries, is that traditional landholding patterns were not broken up by colonial usurpation. (White men ?” and their cattle ?” died like flies in the climate here. Wheat wilted).
Cocoa farming has for well over a century provided the backbone of a thriving agrarian society in Ghana. That widespread economic base has in turn enabled the continuation of traditional chieftaincy institutions and other indigenous forms of government.
Colonial population displacement is the root cause of many of Africa’s conflicts. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, conflicts we dismiss as tribal or as the result of African bad governance, in fact come down to the long term consequences of tribes displaced from their land by the British, and being forced to settle in other tribes’ territory.
If you don’t understand that, you don’t know Africa. The idea that the land was desolate before whites came, or that African forms of agriculture are unproductive, is nonsense which I tackle in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo.
Displacement to form vast cocoa estates has been part of the cause of conflict in Ivory Coast. The estates are attended with other evils ?” erosion and devastation of soil nutrients caused by monoculture, widespread use of child labour, and the conversion of independent small farmers to landless day labourers. These are but some of the ill effects.
The estates also produce low quality cocoa. It seems a truth in agriculture that over-intensive monoculture produces tasteless food. Most British people realize that Cadbury’s chocolate tastes better, but don’t know why. The answer is in the cocoa.
What Cadbury’s use in the UK is from independent Ghanaian smallholders, and is the equivalent of wines from an ancient small chateau or boutique Californian estate. They pay extra for it, and their willingness to pay extra has been a key part of keeping the Ghanaian small farmer going.
Kraft on the other hand use the mass produced estate cocoa; the equivalent of soulless and tasteless wine from multiple fields and huge stainless steel tanks. They source mostly in Brazil ?” the World’s most tasteless cocoa ?” and Ivory Coast. The bad taste in the mouth from the cocoa is both real and metaphorical. The estates in both countries make massive use of child labour.
It is a fact that Cadbury’s practices in dealing fairly with small African farmers dated back directly to the ethical precepts of their Quaker founders. I had occasion to prepare a report for the British government on the Ghanaian cocoa industry, in response to concerns about the use of child labour on Ivory Coast estates. I visited numerous Ghanaian farmers and Cadbury’s headquarters in the process, and have met Cadbury’s buyers in the field in West Africa over twenty years.
I have no doubt that in order to rack up the return on their vast investment, Kraft will switch to the cheap and nasty cocoa they normally use. This could be the worst thing to hit the Ghanaian rural economy since blackpod disease.
I sympathise entirely with those concerned about the effects in the UK of this takeover ?” just the latest manifestation of the fact that our society knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
But try to spare a thought for the ill effects in Africa too.