The Plateforme Ivoirienne pour le cacao durable and the Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform have commended the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and their cocoa regulators for their “bold decision to boycott the world cocoa foundation partners’ meeting” being held in Brussels between 26-27 October 2022.
Ivory Coast and Ghana’s cocoa regulators have served notice to boycott industry meetings in Brussels due to a dispute over pricing that they say has seen multinational chocolate companies resist measures to lift farmers’ incomes.
According to the groups, inasmuch as they may not wholly align with COCOBOD and CCC’s decisions, they are left with no option but to fully support the government’s action.
“We believe it is about time the world recognised the double standards of multinational cocoa and chocolate industries, especially on cocoa pricing and the deteriorating living conditions of cocoa farmers due to their self-seeking interests and quest to maximise profits without any willingness to distribute profits along the value chain,” they said in a joint statement.
Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana account for 65% of global cocoa production, but farmers in these two countries earn less than 6% of the chocolate industry’s total revenue.
New studies have shown that the share of cocoa growers in the overall chocolate industry has drastically reduced over the years as traders, brands and retailers have accumulated super profits.
For example, according to Fairtrade, when cocoa prices were high in the 1970s, cocoa growers were earning up to 50% of the value of a chocolate bar.
This fell to 16% in the 1980s and today farmers receive around 6% of the value.
“This has led to high levels of poverty and hardship for cocoa growers in two of the largest cocoa-producing
countries in the world. Today, producers are not living, they are only surviving per annum valued at about USD130 billion,” the statement said.
“Top on the list of reasons accounting for this unfortunate situation is the refusal of multinational cocoa and chocolate industries to pay the right prices for cocoa beans. They hide behind their so-called sustainability programmes to dodge paying a living income for farmers.
“Even more disheartening is the fact that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are compelled by these multinational companies to sell their cocoa beans below the prevailing market price (discounted prices).
“They have also utilised unfair market tactics such as negative origin differential mechanisms to further impoverish the local small-scale cocoa producer by taking away country premiums whiles purporting to be paying the Living Income Differential (LID) introduced some two years ago,” the statement added.
It added: “The LID has finally become a figment of the imagination and not the tangible reality in the lives of cocoa farmers.
The governments and regulators of the two countries always bear the brunt from in-country stakeholders for their role in not setting the farm gate price at levels that will guarantee a living income for cocoa farmers.
“But what must be made very clear is that the governments and regulators cannot give what they do not have, and at the thermometer, the prevailing market prices make it almost impossible for the farm gate prices to be set at levels that will provide a living income to farmers.
“Rather interesting is the fact that the prices of products that make up chocolate bars have all gone up astronomically yet the price of cocoa keeps decreasing.
“By boycotting this flagship gathering of the private sector in Brussels, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are sending a strong signal, but it is also a cry from the heart.
The issue of cocoa pricing must be put at the centre of the discussion on cocoa sustainability.
“As civil society, we fully support this position and hope that the world will take notice and denounce the private sector for their nefarious and unfair cocoa pricing practices.”