For our third session on fair trade at Liss Junior School, we focused on chocolate. Two thirds of cocoa produced worldwide is estimated to be grown by smallholders. West African economies are critically dependent on cocoa. For example, revenue from cocoa accounts for more than one third of Ghana’s total export earnings, and 40% of those of Cote d’Ivoire, the
world’s largest cocoa producer. The instability of the world cocoa market, with its huge fluctuations in prices, means cocoa farmers are in a precarious situation – most struggle to make a living.
In Britain we eat more chocolate per capita than any other country, each consuming around 9.5kg per year (and these figures are from before the Covid pandemic when chocolate consumption rocketed).
As a class we approached the topic by taking part in a survey all about chocolate. The class were first asked if they liked chocolate. 26 out of 27 (96%) said YES. Next, they were asked what their favourite chocolate was. As you can imagine, there was a wide range of answers from the classic galaxy bars all the way up to posher Lindt (just for information, Mr Stanley favourite is the Kit Kat chunky – which was fairtrade as of last year). they were then asked to explain what attracted them to certain types of chocolate bars. The children were very honest and many of them said that advertising played a major part – it just goes to show how much of an influence advertising has on children.
The children were then asked a question. For every 100 chocolate bars in the UK, how many are eaten by men, women and children. This promoted a fascinating discussion. Most of the children thought that children ate the majority, men the second biggest amount and women the least. There was one exception in the class (who shall remain nameless) who thought that his mum ate more chocolate than the rest of his family put together.
The children were surprised by the results. Out of every 100 chocolate bars:
Men ate 26
Children ate 34
Women ate 40
So our nameless pupil was the closest to being correct. We then looked at how much money went to various people in the production chain of chocolate. So for every £1 bar of chocolate:
7p goes to the cocoa farmer
40p goes to the chocolate company
28p goes to the retailer
15p is taxed.
Once the children heard these figures they were outraged and questioned the fairness of this, There then followed a discussion about how many times we have all bought chocolate that is not fair trade rather than fairtrade chocolate because the non fair trade chocolate is cheaper.
Next week, we are going to look more closely at how fairtrade helps chocolate growers and what we can do to support them