Approximately 7.3 million metric tons of chocolate are consumed each year. In the UK, that equates to around 8 million people eating chocolate every day, and in the U.S, 50% of the population say they cannot live without a daily dose.
These staggering figures are even more astonishing when you consider that 40% of the world's global cocoa supply comes from one country: Ivory Coast. In fact, up to 50 million people depend on the humble cocoa bean across the globe, and 70% of all cocoa produced originates from the 2 million farms scattered around the West African Region.
Most of these cocoa farms are managed by families and are relatively small in size, clocking in at 7 to 10 acres. The average West African cocoa grower has no access to irrigation or modern farming techniques, lives on around 75p per day (far below the World Bank’s extreme poverty line of £1.40) and many are responsible for a household of up to eight family members.
As a result of this social and market environment, a lot of our lending activity takes place in this region, and contributes to cocoa taking the second spot for commodities supported within our lending portfolio. In 2022, 21.8% of our lending was distributed for cocoa producers.
CAYAT is a cocoa, coffee and cashew nut producing co-operative, based around the towns of Adzopé and Yakassé-Attobrou in the South East of Ivory Coast. CAYAT was established in 2010, with 283 members. Its aim was to unite cocoa farmers and to tackle the deep socio-economic challenges in the region, whilst farming sustainably and boosting farmer incomes. They became Fairtrade certified in 2012, and have grown to over 3,000 members located across 38 villages in Ivory Coast; 400 of these members are women. Shared Interest first provided finance to the co-operative in 2016, enabling them to increase production and meet the growing demand for cocoa.
Products from the Producer
Interested in supporting CAYAT by directly purchasing their product? Popular Dutch confectionery company Tony's Chocolonely work with over 1,000 farmer members from CAYAT, as well as several other Ivorian co-operatives, as part of their efforts to end exploitation and child labor. Information on this can be found in their open chain report here.
Supermarket Aldi have also partnered with Tony's to deliver their own range of certified Fairtrade, responsibly sourced chocolate in accordance with Tony's Open Chain sourcing principles. Look out for it on the shelves as a Special Buy and read more here!
Ecookim was established in 2004 and became a Shared Interest customer in 2014. They are an important player in Ivory Coast’s cocoa value chain. Membership has now grown to reach 23 farmer co-operatives, with 22,570 individual producers covering two different provinces. Ecookim’s main activity consists of buying and processing raw cocoa from co-operatives, and exporting cocoa beans. They are currently Shared Interest’s largest customer in West Africa, and one of the best-performing Fairtrade certified groups in the region. Their vision is to ensure that cocoa farmers receive a greater share of the cocoa supply chain by selling directly in the international cocoa market.
Products from the Producer
Interested in supporting Ecookim by directly purchasing their product? Oxfam's Online Fair Trade marketplace stocks a range of chocolate products supplied by the co-operative. As Oxfam state, Ecookim farmers are not mere suppliers to them, but partners. Thanks to the support of ethical consumers, co-operatives like Ecookim and the producers they represent can continue to grow and flourish. Click the button below to purchase Ecookim sourced products, ranging from salted caramel and praline to classic milk and dark chocolate flavour bars.
Alternatively, French premium chocolate manufacturer Valrhona also stock Ecookim chocolate. Their cocoa comes from the Coopérative Agricole Persévérance de Dibobly-Guezon (or CAPEDIG), an Ecookim member whose producers are all Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance certified. More information on their partnership can be found here. From London to Liverpool to the Midlands, Valrhona have store locations dotted around the country and can be found using the store locator on their website here.