Fairtrade chocolate / UTZ chocolates / Rainforest Alliance
Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance/UTZ & Co.
Did you know that Fairtrade does not buy or trade any goods themselves? This is done between (cocoa) producers and buyers (e.g. chocolate manufacturers). In order for them to be able to do all this under the Fairtrade name, they have to pay Fairtrade an annual participation/licence fee.
Did you know that producers receive the Fairtrade Seal already when only 20% of the ingredients are traded "fair" (= 5% above the world market price!)? This means that 80% of the ingredients do not have to be Fairtrade certified and yet the chocolate manufacturer can still use the Fairtrade logo on his products.
In 2019, the 5% surcharge on cocoa beans was too low even for Fairtrade and at the end of 2019, it increased the additional payment for buyers. There is currently no percentage surcharge but a flat rate of 240 US-$ per ton of beans. This corresponds to about 220 €. The Fairtrade share for a 100g bar of milk chocolate is ≈ € 0.01 (provided 100% of the cocoa is Fairtrade - if it is the minimum requirement of 20%, then this share is € 0.002 per 100g bar).
"If the Fairtrade proportion is only € 0.01 per bar, why is the chocolate more expensive?
This is due, for example, to the not inconsiderable annual royalties that the producer (e.g. the cocoa farmer - yes, he too; although he is the one that is supposed to be supported) and cocoa bean buyers (chocolate manufacturers) have to pay to the Fairtrade Head organisation "TransFair". In addition, there are "control fees" payable to the control organisation called "FloCert", which is insisted on to be used by TransFair. Not to be neglected is the not inconsiderable administrative effort for producers and buyers.
By the way: if no chocolate manufacturer can be found to buy under the Fairtrade rules, the cocoa is sold on the world market at the world market price. There is no Fairtrade purchase guarantee. Nevertheless, the cocoa farmer must pay the annual participation fee to Fairtrade or TransFair resp.
Some well-known chocolate manufacturers (e.g. Zotter) have therefore turned their backs on Fairtrade or have decided not to use the system. They prefer to work directly with the cocoa farmers, or obtain their cocoa beans from special traders whose plantations they know personally (This is much easier to do today than in the 1970s, when Fairtrade was founded, because of the Internet and worldwide travel possibilities). For processing the cocoa according to the wishes of the chocolate manufacturer, the cocoa farmers receive the money they can actually live on. It couldn't be more direct and fair! We support these efforts and therefore label these chocolates on our site with references to "Direct Trade" and "Direct Cacao".
UTZ and Rainforest Alliance (now merged) also operate a certification seal. They also do not buy or trade in goods either. Cocoa farmers can use the seal to advertise if they participated in their training (and pay for it if necessary). It is up to the farmers to decide whether they implement the contents taught in the training courses, e.g. to increase production or to avoid child labour. There is no financial support for the farmers. Stiftung Warentest (the leading German consumer safety organisation) states that these seals only have a "medium significance" and the "lowest claim" in their test.
If you buy a Fairtrade product or products with the UTZ label solely on the basis of the logos (because you may think you are doing good) you may be paying a lot of money unnecessarily (because in fact you are financing licencing fees and all the bureaucracy that goes with it). The farmers in the countries of origin however have little or nothing of this in financial terms.