At Ben & Jerry’s, we like to think of ourselves as an aspiring social justice organisation that just happens to make the world’s most euphoric ice cream. Which is why, for us, justice starts right at the source—with the ingredients that go into our favourite flavours.
The cocoa we use in our ridiculously rich and creamy chocolate ice cream is Fairtrade certified, and has been for years. Fairtrade guarantees not only delicious ingredients but also fair pay to farmers. And that’s great! Now, we’re taking it up our notch. Working with our friends at Fairtrade, we’re committed to paying a higher price that will support farmers on their journey to achieving a Living Income. Here's why.
How Fairtrade Works
That’s what led us years ago to partner with Fairtrade to source five major ingredients: Cocoa, bananas, coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Fairtrade means more dough for the things farmers grow. So, whenever you see the Fairtrade mark on the side of one of our tubs you know that the family or co-op farmers who produce your favourite flavour’s ingredients are being paid a fair income - an income that supports farmers in improving environmental practices and adapting to a changing climate
Fairtrade farmers agree to follow a set of standards that benefit workers, the environment, and their community. In return, they receive a Fairtrade Premium, an extra amount of money on top of the selling price of their ingredients that they can use to invest in business or community projects.
Ben & Jerry’s Fairtrade Premiums make up between 1% - 2% of the total Fairtrade Premiums in the world. That Premium can make a huge difference. One cocoa co-op that we work with in Ivory Coast was able to build a new medical clinic, hire a nurse, install solar panels, and purchase a water pump.
What Is a Living Income?
For many farmers, the Fairtrade Premium is life-changing, perhaps even life-saving. And that’s why we’re always looking for ways to do more. Now we’re working with Fairtrade to pay a higher price to support 5,000 of our farmers on their journey to achieving a living income.
Fairtrade defines a living income as “sufficient income to afford a decent standard of living for all household members—including a nutritious diet, clean water, decent housing, education, health care and other essential needs, plus a little extra for emergencies and savings—once farm costs are covered.” That “extra” is a big deal too: It means farmers are able to take care of their businesses, their communities, and the environment we share.
In short, a living income is about making sure cocoa farmers receive a fair slice of the pie now, and a chance to plan for the future.
Cocoa Farmers Need Our Support
Why are we taking this step with cocoa farmers first? Most cocoa is grown in developing nations, places like Ivory Coast, where there are few protections for smallholder farms. Almost all cocoa farmers live off the profit they make from their crop, which varies every year based on things they cannot control, such as weather and commodity prices. Ivory Coast provides 40% of the world’s cocoa beans, yet farmers there earn a daily average of only $1.
There’s a lot of inequality in the global cocoa supply chain, leaving many farmers trapped in extreme poverty, unable to pay for their daily needs, let alone invest in new equipment or methods that might be better able to respond to the effects of the climate crisis. Erratic rainfall, drought, and deforestation are making life even harder for cocoa farmers.
We want to be able to do the same for all of our Fairtrade farmers. Cocoa felt like the right place to start, for three big reasons:
- Cocoa, no surprise to all the chocolate lovers out there, is one of our major ingredients.
- We paid $1.6m in Fairtrade Premiums to cocoa farmers in 2019, more than we paid for any other ingredient
- Cocoa growers are particularly vulnerable to climate change and fluctuations in the global market.
As part of our new price commitment for the cocoa we will work with Fairtrade to evaluate and be sure we are making a positive difference for our farmers.
How You Can Help
Every year, across all our products, our Fairtrade purchases help empower about 210,000 farmers, including around 168,000 cocoa farmers. We get to use the most delicious ingredients on the planet in our flavours, and they get to invest in the health and prosperity of their families and communities.
All of which is to say, that Fairtrade matters! Next time you’re digging into a tub of Chocolate Fudge Brownie, remember that by choosing Fairtrade you’re helping cocoa farmers, their families, and their communities to build a better future.
Ready to learn more about how we source our values-led ingredients? See what a difference using Fairtrade certified ingredients can make for farmers all over the world.