Prices for Fairtrade cocoa to increase

Bakers Journal
December 04, 2018
Written by Bakers Journal
Image © Sean Hawkey
Image © Sean Hawkey Photo courtesy of Fairtrade International
Fairtrade International will raise the Fairtrade Minimum Price for conventional cocoa from $2,000 to $2,400 per metric tonne at the point of export (FOB), marking a 20 per cent increase. For organic cocoa, the Fairtrade price will be $300 above the market price or the Fairtrade Minimum Price, whichever is higher at the time of sale.
This is a change from the current minimum fixed price of $2,300 per metric tonne for Fairtrade certified organic cocoa.

The new price structure, agreed by the Fairtrade Standards Committee, a multi-stakeholder body which includes farmer and trader representatives, will take effect on October 1, 2019. The decision follows a lengthy consultation process across the cocoa supply chain with Fairtrade farmers, traders, manufacturers, and chocolate brands.

The additional Fairtrade Premium will be increased from $200 to $240 per metric tonne, the highest fixed premium of any certification scheme. This is an amount on top of the selling price, paid directly to farmer organizations to spend on projects of their choice. The Premium helps to build strong and viable cooperatives that can respond to their members needs and strengthen them as long-term business partners for buyers. In 2017, Fairtrade cocoa farmer cooperatives earned nearly $43 million in Fairtrade Premium to invest in their communities and businesses.

World cocoa prices plunged by more than a third last year, and it is farmers who bear the brunt of price volatility. Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that has a mandatory minimum price, which acts as a safety net for farmers when market prices fall while allowing them to benefit when prices rise.

For reference, the current cocoa price set by the government of Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, is $2,124 at FOB. Fairtrade buyers pay farmer organizations the differential when the Fairtrade Minimum Price is higher.

The challenges in the West African cocoa sector are huge, with a Fairtrade study in April 2018 showing that 58 per cent of Fairtrade certified cocoa farming households in Côte d’Ivoire had incomes below the extreme poverty line. The new Fairtrade Minimum Price will allow average Fairtrade cocoa growing households to earn above the extreme poverty line. Fairtrade expects to review its cocoa Minimum Price and Premium again in three years.

The Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price, which is calculated at farm gate level rather than FOB because it refers to farm income, is $2,668 per metric tonne of cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire and $2,300 in Ghana. (For comparison, the new Fairtrade Minimum Price at FOB level would equate to approximately $1,600 per metric tonne at farm gate level in Côte d’Ivoire at today’s rates.) The Living Income Reference Price should enable full-time cocoa farmers to earn a living income if implemented as part of a holistic strategy that also includes increased productivity and diversified crops.

Unlike the Fairtrade Minimum Price, the Living Income Reference Price is not mandatory. The increase in the Fairtrade Minimum Price closes about a quarter of the gap between the average Ivorian cocoa farmer income and a living income, as a first step in a gradual and collective approach to bridging the difference.

Full technical information for implementation of the new Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium will be provided in a formal price announcement in February 2019.

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