Is Fair Trade Chocolate Fair Enough?


Is the green tea Kit Kat fair trade, too? Photo by Whatley dude via Flickr

Okay, you won't be giving your sweetheart a Kit Kat bar for Valentine's Day, but hopefully your gift of chocolate bonbons was fair trade -- and organic. Kit Kat, the chocolate wafer bar manufactured by Nestlé, did go fair trade in December, and Green & Black has too, which made sense since it was bought by Cadbury, which went fair trade last year. But then Cadbury was recently gobbled up by Kraft Foods, which triggered some boycotting. Fair Trade chocolate is a start, but is it bittersweet? Kit Kat's positive change in production with cocoa farmers in The Ivory Coast is praised by the Fairtrade Foundation's, Executive Director, Harriet Lamb, who supports the certification decision saying Kit Kat "will open whole new possibilities for these farmers in Côte d'Ivoire, giving them a more sustainable livelihood." But the chocolate controversy over discriminating against brands associated with poor business practices, even if "fairly traded," is boiling up.


Fair Trade not just a black and white issue.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, has added Nestlé's fairtrade Kit Kats to its list of boycotted products in an effort to promote change for people in developing countries. His organization believes that all Nestle's products should be fair trade - not just chocolate. And it should stop selling breastmilk substitutes, per UNICEF and the World Health Organization: "Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed."

The Nestle-free zone campaign also takes the corporation to task for its labor practices that allow child slavery. As the world's largest cocoa producer, the Ivory Coast and African farms have 284,000 children in hazardous conditions, according to a 2002 report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Has this changed? Discrepancies in sustainable business practices require waving the "green gap" flag if not consistent, transparent and quantifiable.

Will Kraft and Cadbury be next on the boycott list? Possibly, with statements like this from said Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods (creators of Cheez Whiz), "The combination of Kraft Foods and Cadbury creates a global powerhouse in snacks, confectionery and quick meals. Together we have impressive global reach and an unrivalled portfolio of iconic brands, with tremendous growth potential."

With more than a billion Kit Kats sold annually in the UK alone, the boycott might make a difference. But not only are developing nations exploited, here, too, chocolates are marketed and distributed differently for mass consumption. If you are what you eat, ethical consumption matters. Next step, Fair Trade chocolate need to be organically farmed, too. The sweet news: there are lots of choices for "green" chocolate bars (and they're not all green tea flavored).

Source: via The Independent/RelaxNews
More on fair-trade chocolate:
The Bitter Truth About Chocolate
Controversy: What Is The True Cost of Chocolate?
Fair Trade Farmers Spearhead Climate Adaptation Efforts

Tags: Chocolate | Fair Trade | Farming | Greenwashing

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