12 December 2002 | Robin Parker
The Co-op is urging shoppers to press leading chocolate companies to offer products made from ethically traded cocoa.
The retailer, which has built its image on environmentally friendly and ethically sourced goods, is the first UK grocer to commit to the Fairtrade scheme for its entire own-brand mass-market chocolate bar range.
Fairtrade, an international non-profit organisation of 17 countries, acts as an intermediary between manufacturers in first-world countries and producers in the developing world for products including coffee, tea, bananas and sugar.
The new range, supplied by The Day Chocolate Company, has been launched in time for Christmas, when 44 per cent of confectionery is sold.
The Co-op guarantees members of the Ghanaian farming co-operative Kuapa Kokoo, which has a 33 per cent stake in The Day Chocolate Company, at least $1,600/tonne of cocoa.
The price covers the cost of production, labour and a $150 “social premium” to spend on educational, social and medicinal projects for the community.
Terry Hudghton, Co-op marketing manager, said: “Consumers want to feel good at Christmas and that includes feeling good about what they put in their shopping basket.
“The Kuapa Kokoo cocoa growers are absolutely delighted and are now looking forward to next year with optimism.”
The Co-op has put a template letter on its website for the public to urge members of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Association (BCCCA), an alliance of more than 100 manufacturers, to source cocoa under Fairtrade.
Hudghton said: “If the major manufacturers were to carry just one Fairtrade product in their range, the benefits for the poverty-stricken cocoa growers would be phenomenal.”
Leading confectionery manufacturers Cadbury, Mars and Nestlé have no Fairtrade products on the UK market, according to their spokespeople.
The Co-op launched its first Fairtrade chocolate bar two years ago and its own-brand products now account for 15 per cent of its chocolate sales.
The move could double Fairtrade chocolate sales in the UK to £6 million and Kuapa Kokoo’s sales by 30 per cent.
Bob Eagle, BCCCA spokesman, welcomed the move but said the industry must look at wider initiatives.
“It’s great that the Co-op is putting this on the agenda, but the Fairtrade scheme is just one approach to helping the people who grow cocoa.”
He said the BCCCA and several African governments launched an initiative in November to promote responsible labour and sustainable farming practices across west Africa.