Fairtrade International and the Cocoa of Excellence Programme are joining forces in an effort to boost cocoa farmer production of superior quality cocoa, access to new market opportunities and offer greater income potential and sustainable impacts for Fairtrade certified cocoa producers, the two organizations have confirmed. Superior quality cocoa is the emerging segment between bulk cocoa, which is majority of the cocoa produced in West Africa for example, and fine flavour cocoas.
Through the new five-year partnership, Fairtrade and Cocoa of Excellence will work together to build capacity in a number of cocoa origins by providing farmers with support to analyse and improve the quality of their cocoa production in order to be able to sell to brands looking for exceptional flavour profiles. Partnership initiatives will include training, information, opportunities for expert feedback and advice, collaboration, and the chance to participate in Cocoa of Excellence’s prestigious Global Cocoa Awards.
“Cocoa of Excellence and Fairtrade International share a common interest in a strong sustainable cocoa sector and a value chain that delivers more fairness – including decent livelihoods – for cocoa producers,” said Johanna Schmidt, Fairtrade International’s Global Project Manager for Cocoa.
“Our shared vision is one in which farmers earn a living income while protecting their environment for future generations. This partnership will enable farmers and their cooperatives to increase their understanding, meet the requirements of customers looking for these flavour profiles, and gain access to those customers, while supporting farmers to continue growing sustainably.”
“This partnership builds the groundwork to make such a win-win scenario possible,” Schmidt added.
Moving into superior quality cocoa is an opportunity for Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperatives to further boost farmer incomes. While many cocoa producers live in poverty, Fairtrade cooperatives are already guaranteed the Fairtrade Minimum Price, plus the Fairtrade Premium of US$240 per tonne on top of selling price, which their farmer members choose how to invest in their businesses and communities. Organic Fairtrade cocoa also brings an additional US$300 per tonne. Fairtrade’s living income strategy, introduced in 2017, is pushing for more progress in pricing, as well as other areas including crop yields and income diversification. Farmers earning a higher price for higher quality cocoa contributes to this strategy.
“We believe a burgeoning, sustainable superior quality cocoa value chain has the potential to impact across landscapes and livelihoods,”
said Brigitte Laliberte, Acting Director of Cocoa of Excellence. “Our partnerships are key to realising this vision and we are proud to be working with Fairtrade to achieve our common goals.”
Cocoa of Excellence is a global collaborative platform led by the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, part of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. Since 2009, Cocoa of Excellence has held eight prestigious Cocoa of Excellence Awards; consolidated the world’s largest dataset on cocoa production, flavour diversity and quality assessment of over 1,250 exceptional unique cocoa bean samples from 55 origins; and led the development of the first International Standards for the Assessment of Cocoa Quality and Flavour. Its Global Network on Cacao Genetic Resources (CacaoNet) contributes to the safeguarding of the world’s cocoa genetic diversity collections at the Cocoa Research centre in Trinidad and Tobago, and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica.
As well as increasing producer income, Fairtrade cocoa producers will be encouraged to participate in the Cocoa of Excellence Awards to showcase their high-quality cocoa internationally, to raise their profile in the superior cocoa market and to connect to buyers. Previous Award winners have attested to the positive impact that the Cocoa of Excellence Awards have had on their businesses with greater visibility, heightened demand, and better prices for their crop.