Fairtrade Fortnight 2015: Divine Chocolate
It’s Fairtrade Fortnight! If you don’t know what that means have a look at our previous post which will tell you all you need to know. Throughout the next two weeks I want to introduce you to some of our Fairtrade Suppliers, these are the brands that produce Fairtrade Labelled items which help smallholder farmers and workers in developing countries by paying a fair price for their goods and services. I’m going to start today with Divine Chocolate.
It’s likely you’ve already heard of Divine, it’s quite widely available and has been around for a long time, I can remember my first encounter with Divine was in my first or second year of secondary school receiving it as an end of term treat – and a treat it was, I still think it’s one of the nicest chocolates I’ve tasted! What’s even better is that Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company that is 45% owned by cocoa farmers which means farmers are given a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry.
In the early 1990s, a group of farmers in Ghana set up the co-op Kuapa Kokoo which would trade its own cocoa and manage the selling process more efficiently with a mission to empower farmers to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women’s participation in all of Kuapa’s activities and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa. In 1997 Kuapa Kokoo made the bold move into the UK chocolate industry and The Day Chocolate Company was launched with the plan to introduce Fairtrade chocolate alternatives to the market – and in 1998 Divine Milk Chocolate was launched. The range has grown incredibly since then, and two representatives of Kuapa Kokoo are Directors on the company board giving them a meaningful input into decisions about how Divine is produced and sold.
Back in Ghana, the farmers who own Divine have grown the membership of the organisation to over 80,000 members from 1250 village societies. They have invested the Fairtrade premium in developing farming communities and farming skills focusing on water, health, education and sanitation to improve standards of living while addressing child labour and piloting environmental initiatives to improve productivity and adapt to climate change. Fairtrade has really helped these farmers to provide a better life for themselves and their families, avoiding the exploitation that other cocoa farmers face. We need to continue the demand for Fairtrade goods to convince all companies that it is the only acceptable option because nobody should face exploitation to provide our luxuries.