This is the dark truth behind how your chocolate gets made

This is the dark truth behind how your chocolate gets made

Imagine this: you’re strolling down an east London street when you stop by a newsagents. You pop in, fully expecting to be in and out within the blink of an eye. Instead, the wall starts to move. All of a sudden, you’ve been transported into a 1930’s jazz era style chocolate salon.

Nope, you haven’t stumbled into Willy Wonka’s newest business venture. Instead, you’ve got a golden ticket to the world's first secret hot chocolate salon.

Fairtrade's new chocolate pop-up in East London. Credit: Fairtrade

To mark Fairtrade Fortnight 2019, the Fairtrade Foundation is giving everyone the chance to discover the best-kept secret in the chocolate industry.

Everyone reading this is cordially invited to visit the mysterious newsagents, where they'll be able to push a button and be whisked away to the elusive salon. Here, they will take a seat and choose from three delicious hot chocolate recipes on the menu. Created by leading celebrity chefs, Melissa Hemsley, Tess Ward and Tom Hunt - each creation is named after a real cocoa farmer from West Africa.

So, what did all you chocolate lovers do to deserve this unadulterated bliss?

Fairtrade hot chocolate salon pop-up. Credit: Fairtrade

The fact of the matter is, just one visit to the Fairtrade Foundation’s new shop equals the chance to become an ally to female cocoa farmers in Africa.

As much as you adore chocolate, there are many things you don’t know about your favourite treat.

The world cocoa price has collapsed, leaving farmers even poorer than they were before. In short, behind the sweetness of chocolate lies a bitter truth: In the $100 billion global industry, most of Africa's cocoa farmers earn less than £1 a day, with 74p being the average daily income in Côte d’Ivoire. 

This is less than half of the £1.86 they would need to have a decent life, leaving them short by £1.12 every day. Take a second to think about that.

That's less than the price of your average chocolate bar, less than the cost of the fuel it took to drive to the shop to get the chocolate, and less than a blow to your bank account - but for some farmers, this money can transform their daily lives.

Genevieve Yapipko with her fellow cocoa farmers from the SCKA Cooperative, Agbokia. Genevieve is supported well by other women farmers to harvest cocoa on her farm.<br /><span class= A story gathering visit to show the impact on farmers, their families and communities of low cocoa prices, especially women, whilst highlighting their critical role in achieving living incomes for cocoa farming families.
Through meeting and interviewing a range of farmers, especially women, we have captured the human stories, and background understanding of the issues preventing cocoa farmers achieving living incomes, despite working hard to grow the cocoa that enters profitable international supply chains. Cocoa is largely grown by smallholder cocoa farmers with small farms, the majority of whom live below the poverty line and are unable to afford the basic human rights many of us take for granted: housing, health care, children’s education and clean water. The role of women is critical in this story, not just because they tend to be the most marginalized by low cocoa prices, but also since they hold the keys to community development as the primary carers of children, the range of diversified income generating activities undertaken and role managing family budgets.
Also important are the roles of producer organisations (cooperatives), in joining farmers together to access markets at better prices, access training to improve quality and productivity, and tackle endemic problems like child labour, economic marginalization of women and the destruction of rainforests.
Fairtrade supports organisations to access markets on Fairtrade terms, bringing with it a guaranteed minimum price safety net (very important in the context of the recent drop in world cocoa prices) and Fairtrade Premium (an additional $2,000/tonne). The Premium enables them to deliver training to farmers, invest in the capacity of cooperatives to export, and deliver much needed social development as decided by farmers themselves –" width="3645" height="2732" /> Credit: Fairtrade

Needless to say, the shockingly low pay cocoa farmers receive in exchange for long and gruelling work days makes life more than a bit difficult. They often don’t earn enough to provide the basics for their families, or give opportunities to their children.

But there's one group who carry the greatest burden. Women. Labouring all day long, many female farmers not only have to stay out in the fields, but also carry water from place to place, look after their children and transport cocoa beans to market, among other things - often with fewer rights than male farmers, and definitely seeing less of the money for it all.

It is this inequality and unfairness that the Fairtrade Foundation is determined to tackle.

The UK charity has been working tirelessly for 25 years against inequality and to establish fair pay for farmers. Despite this however, the problems of poverty in the developing world are still pressing. Will you drink a hot chocolate and join the Fairtrade Foundation’s campaign to make living incomes a reality for farmers?

Portrait of Salimata Diakite, a cocoa farmer with her cocoa ready to be sold. A story gathering visit to show the impact on farmers, their families and communities of low cocoa prices, especially women, whilst highlighting their critical role in achieving living incomes for cocoa farming families. Through meeting and interviewing a range of farmers, especially women, we have captured the human stories, and background understanding of the issues preventing cocoa farmers achieving living incomes, despite working hard to grow the cocoa that enters profitable international supply chains. Cocoa is largely grown by smallholder cocoa farmers with small farms, the majority of whom live below the poverty line and are unable to afford the basic human rights many of us take for granted: housing, health care, children’s education and clean water. The role of women is critical in this story, not just because they tend to be the most marginalized by low cocoa prices, but also since they hold the keys to community development as the primary carers of children, the range of diversified income generating activities undertaken and role managing family budgets. Also important are the roles of producer organisations (cooperatives), in joining farmers together to access markets at better prices, access training to improve quality and productivity, and tackle endemic problems like child labour, economic marginalization of women and the destruction of rainforests. Fairtrade supports organisations to access markets on Fairtrade terms, bringing with it a guaranteed minimum price safety net (very important in the context of the recent drop in world cocoa prices) and Fairtrade Premium (an additional $2,000/tonne). The Premium enables them to deliver training to farmers, invest in the capacity of cooperatives to export, and deliver much needed social development as decided by farmers themselves – in education, health, water and other important priorities. We witnessed the difference Credit: Fairtrade

In the Fairtrade Foundation’s secret chocolate salon, each mouth-watering hot chocolate will cost just £1.86 - again, the small amount of money farmers need to earn each day to make a living income.

While enjoying drinks, guests will learn about Fairtrade’s campaign to ensure female cocoa farmers earn a living income, and with any luck, by the time they leave, they will have become an ally to cocoa farmers who work so hard to give people all over the world a food they adore.

The pop-up will run for 10 days, launching on Monday 25 February, the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight. The proceeds will go into creating a new generation of women leaders in Côte d’Ivoire so they can inspire others across Africa to become business owners, team up with other farmers and become leaders in their own communities.

So, are you ready to support female cocoa farmers to fight for the life they deserve? Trust us, chocolate tastes great, but equality tastes even better. Sign the petition to take exploitation out of our chocolate here.