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Ghana: Cocoa farmers set to benefit from company’s commitment to pay living wage

‘Ice Cream Giant Ben & Jerry's Commits To Paying Cocoa Farmers A Living Income In West Africa’ 17 November 2020

Vermont-based mega ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s - seller of fan favorites like Chunky Monkey and Half Baked - has committed to paying farmers a living income for their cocoa beans in West Africa, a bold step in an industry that has shied away from making minimum payment commitments to farmers. Typically farmers are paid by giant food manufacturers and traders at the behest of the global commodity market, a price that does not factor in the cost of production, and leaves smallholder farmers in extreme poverty. “Smallholder cocoa farmers have virtually no control over global market prices and are at the mercy of price volatility,” according to a statement released by Ben & Jerry’s today.

…“Inequality in the cocoa chain means farmers are trapped in extreme poverty.” As a part of their commitment, 5,000 cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire will receive an additional premium to compensate for low commodity prices, so that farmers can earn a ‘living income differential.’ These farmers grow cocoa volumes that are equivalent to what is used in all of the base mixes for Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, which was a $680 million global business in 2019. Farmers will receive an additional $600,000 premium, meaning an additional ~$120 per farmer per year, over the base price paid for cocoa.

…Low prices have been a recurring issue for cocoa farmers, and are often linked to malnutrition, forced labor, and deforestation in West Africa. For decades, leading cocoa manufacturers such as Hershey, Mondelez, and Nestle have made public commitments to address these issues. Still, low prices and dire poverty persists. The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana recently announced a 20% increase in the floor price paid to cocoa farmers. Ben & Jerry’s commitment, at $2.20/kilo, is an increase over the government floor price of $1.80/kilo…The company has a history of activism, and is used to taking a public stance on issues ranging from racial justice to climate change. Rapaport continues, "This is one further step on a longer term journey that will continue for us, we are really committed to helping the farmers in our supply chain obtain living incomes and we will be expanding those efforts to supply chains beyond cocoa."