Is the future of chocolate at risk?

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Cocoa farmers at Gola Rainforest Sierra Leone

Many of us cannot imagine a world without chocolate but it is a very real possibility.

7 facts about cocoa and why it’s at risk of shortage

1. Globally, we consume up to 8 million tonnes of cocoa each year.

2. Nearly two-thirds of Brits say they would be ‘devastated, annoyed or upset’ if chocolate was no longer available to buy in the UK.*

3. Almost all of that cocoa is grown by around 6 million farmers on small family-run farms.

4. The largest cocoa producing country by volume is Côte d’Ivoire, which produces around 40% of global supply.

5. It can take 4 to 5 years for the cocoa tree to bear fruit with each tree producing around 1,000 beans a year – enough to make just 1 kg of chocolate. 

6. Every stage of Fairtrade cocoa production is done by hand: planting, irrigating, harvesting, fermenting and drying. This is hard work, but too often the salaries are low and working conditions poor.

7. Disease and age are damaging cocoa trees and the number of farmers is falling because the benefits are so poor that few young people want to stay in the profession – the average age of a cocoa farmer is 50.

Without younger workers entering the farming profession and without investment, the cocoa industry is at real risk, within as little as 5 years.

*Read Experts warn bananas, coffee and cocoa at risk of becoming ‘endangered’ in new report

What can be done to prevent this?

  • Fairtrade helps to make cocoa farming more sustainable through payment of the Fairtrade Premium, an additional sum which farmers can choose to invest in business or community projects, allowing them to be able to better provide for themselves and their communities. 
  • In 2015-16, Fairtrade cocoa farmers earned more than £21.7 million (a remarkable jump of 33%) in Fairtrade Premiums and almost a quarter was invested in directly supporting farming families meet their daily needs. 

Fairtrade is the world’s most trusted and recognised ethical mark. So when you are next choosing chocolate and cocoa, look for the FAIRTRADE Mark and know that you are contributing to the sustainability of the UK’s favourite treat.

Buy Fairtrade chocolate

Updated October 2023.