CADBURY is facing criticism after pulling out of the Fairtrade scheme in favour of its own sustainability programme, Cocoa Life.
Its American owners, Mondelez International, said that its new £322-million scheme is a “ground-breaking commitment” to help more farmers in the developing world, and builds on its work with the Fairtrade scheme.
The change is backed by the Fairtrade Foundation, which certified products that meet its strict criteria, such as paying cocoa farmers a minimum price. It described the changes as an “exciting development” that would “empower” more poor communities. It promised to monitor the new scheme to ensure that Cadbury maintains standards.
From May next year, the Fairtrade logo will no longer appear on Cadbury products in the UK, although the Foundation’s name will appear as a “partner” organisation in the Cocoa Life project.
Critics say, however, that it will anger and confuse consumers. The CEO of the Meaningful Chocolate Company, which deals only in Fairtrade chocolate, David Marshall, said: “We are shocked by this move. It feels like a classic Cadbury’s fudge.
”The Fairtrade movement grew out of pressure by churches, church schools, and other consumers who wanted to see justice for growers and accountability for manufacturers. The big firms resisted this pressure for decades, but have gradually started to come over.
”Many now believe this puts the Fairtrade scheme at risk. We hope trading standards will take a view on this to stop the confusion.”
Seven years ago, when Cadbury announced that its leading brand, Dairy Milk, would be made from Fairtrade cocoa, it was seen as a trigger that persuaded others to follow. “Many big firms resisted the Fairtrade movement for decades, but have gradually started to come over,” Mr Marshall said. “Many will be saddened that Cadbury has decided to reverse this trend.”
In a statement, Mondelez said: “The partnership with Cocoa Life will ensure that farmers receive a competitive price for their cocoa, on clear terms of trade, and loyalty payments, which, together with programme investments, will deliver value per farmer at least equivalent to that previously delivered by Fairtrade premiums.
”Cocoa Life puts farmers first, and aims to empower current and future generations to create thriving farms which boost the entire community. Cocoa Life will benefit 200,000 farmers and one million people in communities in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, India, and Brazil.
“Cadbury and Fairtrade will now work together on new innovative programmes to enhance the future for farming communities.”