Eco-Friendly and Ethical Chocolate — Fair Trade

A Fair Trade Certified LogoIn the spirit of the holidays or anytime, choose chocolate and other Fair Trade-certified products. Purchasing Fair Trade certified products empower shoppers to make a choice to promote equality in trade and safeguard the environment.

What is Fair Trade?

Although there is no “official” definition of fair trade, the general purpose is universal. Fair Trade is a global trade model to help small farmers, co-ops, and other producers in developing countries obtain a fair price for their products and enable them to build sustainable businesses.

Traders and purchasers pay above market price for products like cacao beans used to make chocolate. The extra money is intended to help farmers practice environmentally sound production methods, and make improvements in their communities by building schools, hospitals, and infrastructure.

Fair Trade products include coffee, chocolate, sugar, bananas, avocados, honey, nuts, wine, rice, and cotton products to name a few.

Fair Trade Organizations

Fair Trade organizations span the globe. Some are international, others regional or for a specific country. They set and enforce standards, advocate for Fair Trade, influence political policy, educate, train, and provide certification services.

Fairtrade International (FLO) Certification MarkFairtrade International (FLO) is a non-profit organization that develops and coordinates Fairtrade standards, supports producers, and promotes trade justice on an international scale. The FAIRTRADE Mark is owned by FLO.

FLO-CERT is an independent for profit organization that provides inspection and certification services to ensure producers and traders adhere to FLO Fairtrade standards.

World Fair Trade Organization LogoWorld Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a membership organization supporting and advocating Fair Trade. Organizations that follow WFTO’s 10 Principles of Fair Trade may utilize the logo (which is not a production mark).

WFTO ASIA is a regional chapter of World Fair Trade Organization focused on improving the lives of disadvantaged communities in Asia via Fair Trade.

Fair Trade USA LogoFair Trade USA is a nonprofit third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States which recently established new Fair Trade standards under an initiative called Fair Trade for All.

Fair Trade Principles and Standards

Each Fair Trade organization sets its own principles and standards, although there are many similarities across organizations. Producer standards cover small farmers, co-ops, hired labor, and contract production. Other standards cover companies that trade and purchase products. Some requirements are progressive with a minimal level of compliance required the first year and increasing requirements each year thereafter. Third-party organizations conduct audits and certify that producers and traders are complying with Fair Trade standards.

Producer Standards

People & Community
  • Comply with International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards.
  • Pay workers a fair wage in a timely manner.
  • Provide safe working conditions and training in the safe use of equipment and hazardous materials.
  • Prohibit discrimination, corporeal punishment, harassment, and forced labor.
  • Comply with child labor protection standards which determine at which age and under which conditions children may work.
  • Protect worker freedom of association and collective bargaining.
  • Invest in and document community improvement projects.
  • Protect and use water in a sustainable manner.
  • Promote agricultural diversification, control erosion, and forbid slash and burn.
  • Use integrated pest management to reduce the use of pesticides.
  • Manage waste by reducing, reusing, recycling, and handling hazardous waste in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
  • Do not use Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
  • Reduce energy use via energy efficiency measures, adequate equipment maintenance, and renewable energy sources.
  • Comply with organic production standards and requirements (optional and earns an additional price premium)

Trader and Purchaser Standards

  • Act in a transparent and accountable manner with all stakeholders.
  • Comply with traceability and documentation requirements.
  • Buy products from producers who meet Fair Trade standards and requirements.
  • Pay a fair price to the producer which includes the cost of sustainable production and community development.
  • Provide pre-financing when needed.
  • Enter into contracts to develop long-term partnerships.

The next time you are shopping for chocolate, check out the Fair Trade options.


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Eco-Friendly and Ethical Chocolate — Trivia & History

Chocolate Bar, Cocoa Beans, Cocoa PowderA scan of retail store candy shelves and websites demonstrates interest in eco-friendly and ethical chocolate is on the rise. Chocolate packages are adorned with logos and statements such as USDA Organic, Fair Trade, Child Labor Free, Bird Friendly, Carbon Neutral, and Rainforest Alliance Certified to name a few.

Chocolate has always been a part of the holidays in our household. Many boxes of See’s Candies were given and received over the years. Quite a few of the old boxes contain my dad’s collection of Mr. Fixit stuff. We also consumed our fair share of chocolate Santas, gold foil wrapped chocolate coins, and chocolate kisses.

I am a chocolate lover and several years ago decided to expand my horizons by looking for and buying chocolate brands that are planet and people friendly. The holiday season seems a good time to read and write about chocolate. In this first post, we’ll cover chocolate trivia and history highlights, then move onto related topics in other posts.

Chocolate Trivia

  • The word chocolate can be traced back to the Aztec word xocoatl which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans.
  • Cacao Pods on TreeThe Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods”.
  • Cacao refers to the plant or its beans before processing, chocolate is anything made from the beans, and cocoa generally refers to chocolate in powdered form.
  • The optimum altitude for growing cacao is 328–820 feet (100–250 meters) above sea level in regions where the mean temperature ranges from 71–77°F (22–25°C).
  • More than half the world’s cacao is produced by the West African countries of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
  • It takes 4 to 5 years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans.
  • 40 to 50 million people depend on cacao for their livelihoods.
  • According to data research company Mintel, U.S. chocolate sales reached $18.6 billion in 2011. Easter led seasonal sales at $4.9 billion. Premium chocolate accounted for $2.2 billion.
  • Based on data from IRI, Snickers is said to be America’s favorite brand of chocolate.

A Very Brief History of Chocolate

Chocolate history can be traced back thousands of years. It began life as a bitter unsweetened drink that was served during religious ceremonies and for health reasons. At times cacao beans were used as currency. The Europeans introduced milk, sugar, and spices as well as chocolate making innovations. Today chocolate companies span the globe.

  • 1750 BCpre-Olmec people living in Mesoamerica use cacao in beverages.
  • 600 ADMayans begin cultivation of cacao and use cacao pods in religious rituals.
  • 1200Aztecs attribute the creation of the cacao plant to their god Quetzalcoatl and drink an unsweetened cocoa drink called xocoatl for health reasons.
  • 1528 – Hernán Cortés introduces cacao beans to Spain and the Spaniards transform the bitter beverage by adding sugar, vanilla, and spices.
  • 1824 – John Cadbury opens a shop in England selling cocoa and drinking chocolate.
  • 1847Joseph Fry & Son create the modern chocolate bar.
  • 1875Daniel Peter who had received assistance from Henri Nestlé, introduces the first milk chocolate.
  • 1900 – the first Hershey’s milk chocolate bar is sold in the United States.
  • 1921See’s Candies shop and kitchen opens in Los Angeles, California.
  • 1941M&M’s are first sold by Mars, Inc. the company founded by Frank C. Mars.
  • 1994Green & Black’s Maya Gold becomes the first Fair Trade certified chocolate bar.
  • 2001 – The Harkin-Engel Protocol is established with an objective to end the worst forms of child labor in the production of cacao.
  • 2012 – a University of California, San Diego study of 1,000 people finds that eating chocolate may favorably influence metabolism leading to lower body mass index (BMI).


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