Cadbury’s Demise a Disaster for Ghana 73


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.


73 thoughts on “Cadbury’s Demise a Disaster for Ghana

1 2 3
  • MJ

    “perhaps it’s better to err on the side of being able to help more people than turn out to need it ?”

    The vaccine was patented and licensed months before the first case of the disease presented itself. I wonder how they managed that. The only people helped by this blatant scam were the pharmaceutical companies and their profits.

  • glenn

    Maybe there shouldn’t have been quite the media frenzy about swine-flu, with doom-mongers like the Daily (hate-) Mail screaming “10,000 deaths from flu this winter!!” without troubling us with the information that that’s the typical death rate anyway. There was never anything to indicate this swine flu was either particularly virulent or acute. We never know what the latest strains of flu are likely to bring, so should we have this headless-chicken approach every year?

    One can’t blame the public, they – after all – only have the lurid headlines and breathless media to get their information. So who kept prompting the media? And how come just a few individuals were so well placed to profit handsomely out of the scare?

  • anno

    Thank you very much Craig for this important information. I have just finished working on a flat next to Cadbury’s in Birmingham and I have done a few days’ electrical work inside the factory in 2000.

    It also worries me that the factory is sited in one of the best residential areas of the city, partly because Cadburys invested in and created the local amenities. The Quaker ethics are preserving a factory which is asking to be relocated to Eastern Europe, putting more pressure on the dairy industry of many local counties, which have already been served very badly by Hilary Benn and New Labour. A vast milk processing plant has been built in Kent, ready to import dairy produce, as part of the strategy to squeeze dairy farmers dry.

    Just as we try to crawl out of a property based recession, New Labour is planning a property based recovery, with zero-energy New Builds running on heat pumps, replacing fossil fuels. The bankers who control the money supply are not interested in chocolate. They buy and sell cocoa to make cash, they buy and sell property to make cash and they are not interested in the changes that they wreak on Africa, or Birmingham, or farmers, or you or me. They are only interested in themselves.

  • Abe Rene

    There may be an entrepreneurial opportunity here for someone who can fill the traditional British sweet tooth more competently than Kraft, if they abandon Ghananian sources.

    Would you, Craig, be interested in becoming the next John Cadbury?

  • dreoilin

    Sorry – broadband still mostly off – BT Ireland has decided to send me a new router – waiting for that. I have a connection, sometimes, for about 10 mins. Grrr.

  • Strategist

    “There may be an entrepreneurial opportunity here for someone who can fill the traditional British sweet tooth more competently than Kraft, if they abandon Ghananian sources.”

    As has already been said on this thread, Divine are already in there

    http://www.divinechocolate.com/default.aspx

    For the best bar of chocolate since Green & Blacks sold out, my vote goes to Seeds of Change – cocoa sourced from the Dominican Republic, it appears (other half of Hispaniola from Haiti)

    http://www.seedsofchange.co.uk/chocolate.html

  • chris

    spot on craig

    every so often there are real jaffas on this site:

    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.

    (PS Steyn’s not a chucker)

1 2 3

Comments are closed.