5 Tips about Purchasing Fair Trade Cacao

5 Tips about Purchasing Fair Trade Cacao

You might be cruising through the supermarket rows and finding an increase in fair trade cacao and other organic products. During the last decades following the rising capitalist era, as consumers, we are now sensitized about unethical practices from some of our favorite products. As our awareness increases, the demand for fair trade and organic products increases– this is how the market works! When a large amount of the population stands against the system, we can change it, or at least, evolve it. Today, most companies are held accountable for their ecological footprint and some for their social impact. 

Although, the social impact stands in the shadow of the eco-footprint. In consequence, corporations take advantage of the eyes away from their work and bypass important practices that fair trade stands for. By “fair trade” we mean sustainable and equitable trade relationships expressed through certification for consumers to make ethical shopping choices.  

To avoid supporting unethical companies that hide behind a fair trade certification, when seeking out a fair trade product you want to be ensured that your consumption isn’t supporting the exploitation of other people. 

Fair Trade Cacao Purchasing: 5 Useful Tips

  1. Be Prepared to Pay More

Yes, a farmer which is fairly paid means the price of your product will rise. No matter what brand you choose, the cost of your product such as cacao/chocolate is always the same, the difference is who paid the cost along the way. Is it fair for you to let the farmers or the environment pay the cost of the chocolate you enjoy so much? 

Being ethical means taking responsibility for our actions. When you choose mindfully the brand you support, the extra money you pay won’t go into increasing the profit margin of the company but rather paying the real price of growing food.

* Be careful, some companies use the label ‘fair-trade’ to increase the price of their product without implementing ethical practices. This practice is to improve the profit margin of the company at the expense of farmers and consumers. 

  1. Know Your Farmers

Buying local is always the first option for a more sustainable future. When you buy locally, this action is much easier and more rewarding. Imagine being at a feast table to know the name of every farmer that tended to the food you consume.

Another option is to choose products that have a transparent operation. Beyond a certification, they connect you directly to the farmer abroad; on a vacation trip, you could go visit your farmer. Often these organizations don’t necessarily have a fair-trade certification as it is too costly but they are going beyond fair-trade. For example, a registration at https://www.fairtrade.net/ cost 565 euros and its yearly certification cost 2,940 euros. For a small company, even as Cacao Source, this is a price we can’t afford. 

With Cacao Source we started our Give Back 2 farmer program where you can know more about your farmer and give a tip by scanning the QR code on your cacao. This is one initiative amongst many we provide so you may connect with your farmers.

  1. Lower Profit Margin

The profit margin is often hidden from consumers. The transparency on profit margin is a good sign for ethical practices. When following a circular economy, there is a balance between what you take/receive and what you give; this results in a smaller profit margin. Having a small profit margin does not mean the company is small or unsuccessful The success of a company can be accounted for by how many people are involved and how incomes are redistributed amongst the team. 

  1. Red-flag List

I invite you to create a red-flag list of companies to not support. This list can start with only one name that you might have seen a documentary about their bad practices and you can boycott, even if it says ‘’fair-trade’’ on their label. If the company is unethical, there is a lot of chance that the new ‘’fair-trade’’ product they recently launched is unethical as well. 

I say start with one brand because the red-flag list could go on forever and we are not asking you to be perfect. Once you get used to having taken out an unethical brand from your buying habit, you can add a new name to the list and so on. 

A piece of advice is for every brand name you add to the list, find a sustainable alternative. For example, instead of buying a $1 chocolate bar every day, you can buy an artisanal ethically sourced $5 chocolate bar once a week.

  1. Agroforestry over Mono-culture

Fair trade and organic go hand-in-hand as the health of the farmers is important. If the farming community is exposed to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, it often affects their health in the long term. As long as we keep buying products that use chemicals, companies will keep producing in such a manner and our farming community’s livelihood will be affected by such practices. 

When our food grows in a mono-culture system, even if farmers are paid well and organic fertilizers and pesticides are used, there is the exploitation of the land. The well-being of farmers is in relation to the well-being of the soil they live on. A mono-culture system impacts biodiversity, food sovereignty, and soil nutrients. In a mono-culture farm, there are as well fewer workers which diminishes local opportunity and most often results in a lower percent of revenue remaining in the producer country. 

We live today in a world where we are all connected. Our impact on one side of the planet affects the other side of the planet. One choice you make can affect someone you have never met on another continent. For this reason, we must take extra responsibility for our actions. Eating local might seem like a simple solution but we can find our choices limited as the food we find in the supermarket comes from all over the world. This means we have to take other measures that ensure the well-being of all. 

At first, it might seem time-consuming but it is worth having a critical mindset when we speak about millions of people living in extreme poverty because of a system that exploits their hard work for the convenience of others. We work towards out-of-the-box solutions for ending poverty when we could start by paying a fair price for the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the equipment we use. 

Before creating a fair-trade world, so much work has to be done. The team of Cacao Source has worked hard for the creation of a not-for-profit serving the cacao farming community and the environment in Guatemala. You can learn more on Give Back to the Source.

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