We have been sounding the alarm about Mondelez’s Cocoa Life program ever since the mega chocolate company announced its iconic brand Cadbury would drop fair trade in favor of Cocoa Life.
While we acknowledged that a company with as many supply chain and ethical issues as Mondelez may be best left out of the fair trade system, the greenwashing Cocoa Life program is not a viable or welcomed alternative. It is a corporate program that takes power away from farmers and focuses on yield, not income.
What we have advocated for is a guarantee of fair payments for farmers in West Africa, too many of whom are impoverished. Millions of children work in dangerous jobs in the West African cocoa sector. We will not eliminate this problem until we guarantee fair and sustainable prices that allow children to get an education rather than force them to work. This should be a baseline guarantee that all chocolate companies make, especially those with the profits and resources of Mondelez.
Yet instead, Mondelez is digging its heels in and churning up its PR. News came out recently that the latest Green & Black’s chocolate bar will be neither organic nor fair trade. Green & Black’s is the one chocolate brand of Mondelez that has been fully organic and fair trade. It is troubling that as it expands its product line, it turns to the inadequate Cocoa Life program and away from the established fair trade and organic standards.
Fair trade certification is not a perfect tool, but it is the one way that farmers are guaranteed a minimum price and a community development premium that they have complete control over. Cocoa Life does not guarantee a fair price and does not allow for a democratically controlled premium fund. Cocoa Life is a PR stunt for Mondelez and its brands.
Fair trade is a movement by and for farmer coops. Farmer coops in West Africa depend on fair trade markets and brands like Green & Black’s to honor its long-term relationships to them and not introduce a new program based on corporate profits rather than fair trade principles.
We’ve already collected signatures from thousands of consumers who stand with farmers and expect more from Mondelez and its brands like Cadbury and Green & Black’s.