Chocolate, Fairtrade and Responsible Business

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By Nana O Bonsu, Research Fellow
Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, University of Birmingham

Though that might be good for the consumer, our buying habits could have a negative effect on cocoa farmers across the globe

For years in the UK, chocolate has been inexpensive and readily available. Though that might be good for the consumer, our buying habits could have a negative effect on cocoa farmers across the globe, forcing them to work for long hours, and for very little reward.

To combat these unfair working conditions, Fairtrade was established, a global movement for change which works with businesses, consumers and campaigners. Through Fairtrade brands, everyone along the supply chain is given equal rights to fair treatment. From workers and farmers to businesses and consumers, everyone’s a winner.

Fairtrade’s success as a business exemplifies how responsible business practices can be combined with economic goals to create a trustworthy and socially-responsible brand. It also demonstrates the value of tackling socio-economic and environmental issues within the Global Value Chain (GVC).

With over two-thirds of global trade occurring within GVCs (i.e. producing, importing, and exporting, which are then incorporated into final products), the chocolate Fairtrade certification success stories serve as a roadmap for embedding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into business models. Fairtrade provides a powerful example to businesses, encouraging them to consider how they can better tackle ethical issues within the chain, manage risks and still push for economic growth.

Hence, by following the ‘Chocolate, Fairtrade and Responsible Business model’, we could make use of GVCs in line with the ambitious nature of the SDGs.

In a world where the consumer is increasingly aware of social injustices, these models are more and more valuable. As well as tackling obvious issues in the supply chain, they also unlock new opportunities in growth markets within an increasingly competitive global economy.

This World Chocolate Day, make sure that when you treat yourself, you’re not enforcing the mistreatment of others.

If you want to find out more about the Centre for Responsible Business, you can follow us on Twitter or visit our website. If you’d like any further information on the Centre’s work, please email Sophie Sinclair, our Engagement and Operations Manager.

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