A staggering clip from a documentary produced by VPRO Metropolis TV has been circling the Internet this week. The clip shows a cacao farmer from the Ivory Coast tasting chocolate for the first time after many years of farming, highlighting the massive disparity between chocolate consumers and cacao farmers. “Cacao is a multibillion dollar industry, that divides the world between beggars and gluttons”, the narrator explains. He’s sadly on the mark in regards to the majority of mass-produced chocolate; the industry has historically been implicated in human rights violations, including unfair wages and the employment of child labor. The doc specifically focused on cacao farmers along the Ivory Coast, from where many of the larger chocolate makers source their beans.
In the clip, the farmer remarks on the low, stagnant price he receives for his beans. He cannot afford to taste the fruits of his own labor, his livelihood reduced to supplying those far wealthier than he with a commodity that, unbeknownst to him, is transformed into a confectionery product. When Raaka began, we sought out to make chocolate that benefits both the farmers and the consumers. To do so, we’ve set higher price standards to ensure fair compensation for everyone along the chain. The cocoa farmers from whom we purchase cocoa beans receive at minimum $500 above market price per metric ton of cacao beans. At today’s cocoa prices, this is equivalent to a 20% raise. Information about the farms we source can be found on our Virtues page, as well as recent write-up about Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize.
The farmer is delighted by his first taste of chocolate, a delight we share and hope to spread with fair trade, unroasted products from our favorite bean.