Great success: Chocolate industry responds to the demands by Make Chocolate Fair!

The handover of 122,826 signatures from Make Chocolate Fair! to the umbrella organization of European chocolate manufacturers could not have gone any better: At the exact moment that the legendary “chocomobile” arrived at its last stop in front of the headquarters of CAOBISCO in Brussels, the dark clouds lifted and the sun peeked through, welcoming activists from twelve European countries.

Also the Secretary General of CAOBISCO, Ms Sabine Nafziger, welcomed the representatives of Make Chocolate Fair! and delivered sensational news: For the very first time have chocolate manufacturers publicly committed to contribute to a living income calculation for cocoa farmers.

Thereby the European chocolate industry has responded to one of the most central demands, which the campaign Make Chocolate Fair! has been pressuring for during the past two years. The campaign views such a calculation as a crucial first step so that cocoa farmers will receive a fair price for their cocoa in the future.

“This is an amazing success for our campaign and especially for cocoa farmers worldwide”, says Evelyn Bahn from INKOTA enthusiastically. “We have all together reached that chocolate manufacturers can no longer ignore the critical voices of European consumers. This shows the importance and effectiveness of public pressure in the fight for global justice.”

At the handover Ms Sabine Nafziger also promised that European chocolate companies will speed up their efforts to fight child labour in cocoa production. “Make Chocolate Fair! will closely monitor, how the chocolate industry is going to address this issue in the upcoming months”, announced Bahn. “If chocolate companies want to speed up their fight against child labour, they need to combat poverty among cocoa farmers. This also means that cocoa producers need to receive a fair price for their cocoa. A transparent living income calculation is the crucial basis for this to happen.”

The Secretary General of CAOBISCO further named the development of the European Standards CEN/ISO as important instruments for certification and traceability of sustainable cocoa. Make Chocolate Fair! evaluates the process as useful in principle. However, it is still completely open, at what level the criteria of the CEN/ISO standards will be set. By no means may they fall behind the already existing standards by Fairtrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. As long as a European standard does not exist, chocolate companies have to buy cocoa that is certified by the already existing systems.

The Ivorian worker’s unionist Marie-Jeanne N’Zore Kombo took part in the action, as well. She had been invited to a Speakers Tour around Europe by Make Chocolate Fair. Ms N’Zore Kombo stressed, “consumers have to put pressure onto chocolate manufacturers. Otherwise the situation will not improve in cocoa producing countries. Therefore, we need campaigns such as Make Chocolate Fair!.

That is why Make Chocolate Fair! will enquire next year, which specific steps are undertaken by chocolate companies to improve the living and working conditions of cocoa farmers. “We will closely monitor, whether the industry’s deeds will measure up to its words. Consumers have a right to know, whether life has improved for cocoa producing families and if chocolate is really fair”, explains Evelyn Bahn.