How to Make Cocoa Fairer

No chocolate without cocoa, no cocoa without the family farmers who grow it. Millions of these family farmers live in poverty. Pricing is only part of the problem. Small-scale farming practices also play a significant role.

What are the issues with cocoa cultivation?

70 per cent of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa. The majority of this cocoa is produced by millions of family farmers with small plots of land and low yields. For example, the cocoa producers we work with in Togo cultivate around 1.5 hectares of land and achieve yields of just under 400 kilos per hectare. Given these conditions, it is impossible to earn a living wage at the current price of cocoa – even fair trade prices. To learn more about what these farming practices mean and who sets the price of cocoa, read our blog post: The value of cocoa

We've calculated that the price of cocoa would need to be around double the current market price to improve the living situation of family farmers. The problem is that no one wants to buy such expensive cocoa wholesale.

How much does gebana pay for cocoa?

Two components make up our cocoa price. The first component comprises the market price, i.e. the cash paid for the product, as well as the fair trade premium, which we pay the cooperatives separately.

The second component is the organic premium. We only pay this once we have analysed the product. If the analysis of a lot reveals that the beans are contaminated with pesticides, we don't pay out the organic premium for that lot since we can't sell that cocoa as an organic product. Unfortunately, this has happened on several occasions in the past.

Using our gebana model, we supplement the regular price that everyone who buys fair trade and certified organic cocoa on the market pays. This model provides family farmers with a direct share of the revenue. In the case of Togo, this means that certified organic family farmers receive 10 per cent of the final retail price of our chocolate.

In the interest of fairness, we pay this additional premium to all organic family farmers and not just to the 15 families that actually supply the cocoa for our chocolate. We buy 180 tonnes of cocoa per year, but we only use around 7 tonnes to produce our own chocolate. The rest of the cocoa is sold to wholesalers.

For every kilo of chocolate sold, the figures are as follows:

So when you buy chocolate from our online shop, you are already giving the family farmers a much better deal than, say, buying fair trade chocolate in the supermarket. But this price is still too low. For our gebana model to really make a difference in Togo, we need to sell a lot more chocolate and get wholesalers on board. The good news is that we've already started to make inroads. Find out more in our blog post The rocky road to fair chocolate.

What is gebana doing to support family farmers in Togo?

Currently (2022/23), we buy cocoa from 2,106 family farmers, of which 817 are certified organic and the rest are in the process of converting to organic farming.

Each of the family farmers we work with in Togo is registered in our Farmer Support System, which collects information like their personal details, certification status and geolocation. You can learn more about this system here.

The family farmers are organised into four cooperatives, which act as our trading partners. We have been buying and selling Togolese products since 2000, and in 2013 we opened an office of our own in Lomé, where we employ 65 local staff members.

The gebana Togo team includes agricultural technicians, or field agents, who regularly visit family farmers to establish direct contact. They support these families throughout the certification process and provide training on organic farming practices and other techniques, such as agroforestry. In 2020, we organised 126 of these training courses in Togo with a total of 4,410 farmers taking part. You can read more about this in our blog post Between the Trees.

Visit the gebana online shop now to order your chocolate.