While most of the world’s cocoa comes from West African countries, such as Ivory Coast and Ghana, Fairtrade also works with small producers in a total of 20 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Fairtrade cocoa can be found in all manner of chocolate treats, and even in a few products you might not suspect such as moisturizing cream.

The first cocoa product to bear the FAIRTRADE Mark was Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate bar back in 1994. That marked Fairtrade’s first foray into the global confectionery market, an industry worth $80 billion annually. As of 2014, there are 176,600 smallscale cocoa farmers organized into 130 small producer organiztions around the world.

Fairtrade Cocoa Facts

  • Fairtrade Premium Paid in 2013: 9.8 million euros – producers chose to invest nearly half of this amount in productivity and quality.
  • Fairtrade cocoa origins: Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Sao Tome e Principe, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka
  • Qualities available: Conventional and organic
  • Varieties available: Forastero beans are generally used to make milk chocolate, while Criollo and Trinitario beans are used to make fine flavour cocoa products.

Fairtrade Impact for Farmers

Fairtrade cocoa offers farmers an opportunity to make a real living, as the Fairtrade Standards include a Minimum Price. A Fairtrade Premium is added to the purchase price and is used by cooperatives for social and economic investments such as education, health services, processing equipment and loans to members.

Also, the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark on a product provides consumers with the assurance that Fairtrade cocoa producers are regularly audited against the strict child labour standards that prohibit the worst form of child labour and forced (bonded) labour. It considers the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions 29, 105, 138 and 182 as the relevant standards on child labour – and has developed its own standards accordingly.  To read more about Fairtrade and child protection, click here.

The Challenge for Fairtrade

Demand for cocoa has been on a steady rise in recent years, increasing by an average of 3 percent per year since the 1910s. However, by 2020, industry representatives are expecting demand to increase by an additional million tonnes per year – an increase of about 30 percent compared to current annual production, which would put demand on track to outpace supply.i

Despite the strong demand, many small producers struggle to sell enough to earn a sustainable income: cocoa processing is in the hands of just a few players and consolidation continues, which increases price pressure on producers at the beginning of the supply chain.

Even the cocoa producers are able to sell isn’t valued as highly as it might be: growers in West Africa are likely to receive between 3.5 to 6.4 percent of the final value of a chocolate bar containing their cocoa. This figure is down from 16 percent in the late 1980s. Over the same time period, manufacturers have increased their take from 56 to 70 percent of the value of a chocolate bar. Retailers currently see about 17 percent (up from 12 percent over the same time period).

Globally, around 3.5 million tons of cocoa are produced each year. Fairtrade certified production represents just a fraction of this amount, but with confectionary companies making major commitments to sustainable sourcing of their cocoa, there is significant potential for increased sales and increased impact for Fairtrade farmers.

General Cocoa Facts

  • Cocoa is grown on trees and is considered a tropical plant. It grows in hot, rainy climates.
  • Fruit pods from the trees contain 30-40 seeds, which are extracted, fermented and dried in the sun turning them into cocoa beans.
  • The Netherlands is the global leader in cocoa imports and has committed to use sustainable cocoa for all domestic cocoa and chocolate products by 2025.
  • African countries produce 73 percent of the world’s cocoa. Over half of this comes from Cote d’Ivoire.
  • Fairtrade cocoa producers received 9.8 million euros in Premium money from cocoa sales in 2012-13. About half of the Premium is invested in production and processing improvements.

Recent Fairtrade News on Cocoa


Raising the Voices of Rural Women

15 October 2015

An opinion piece by Tsitsi Choruma, Senior Advisor, Gender at Fairtrade International. Growing up in urban Zimbabwe, I spent a lot of time with my aunts in their villages and at our rural ancestral home. As a child, I viewed...


Children’s Involvement in West African Cocoa Production: Supporting Farmer Organizations to Lead

04 August 2015

The 2013/2014 Survey Research on Child Labour in West African Cocoa-Growing Areas released last week by the Tulane University shows that child labour in cocoa production is on the rise in West Africa. According to the new...


Fairtrade Cocoa Farmers Investing in Change: New Report on Fairtrade Cocoa in West Africa

06 June 2014

Fairtrade cocoa farmers in West Africa are investing in their farms, crop infrastructure and communities – but they need deeper, long-term partnerships to drive change. Thus concludes a new report ‘Fairtrade Cocoa in West Africa’...

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Buying and selling Fairtrade cocoa

Fairtrade products are sold in over 120 countries. For more information on Fairtrade near you, select your country on the map below or visit Fairtrade Near You. If you’re interested in selling Fairtrade cocoa in your country, see our information about selling Fairtrade.

Guidance Documents for Fairtrade producers and buyers

Fairtrade International offers the following guidance documents as a complement for the Fairtrade Cocoa Standard.

Guidance on Productivity and Quality Improvement

The following guidance document on productivity and quality improvements is designed as a support document for cocoa producer organizations.  It provides an explanation on what productivity and/or quality improvement is and what investments this may require, as well as additional information on the reporting of these investments.  This document relates to section 4.3.7 and 4.3.8 of the Fairtrade Standard for Cocoa for Small Producer Organizations. 

EN - Guidance Productivity & Quality Improvement (PDF)

SP - Guidance Productivity & Quality Improvement (PDF)

FR - Guidance Productivity & Quality Improvement (PDF)

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