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Co-op’s market-leading Fairtrade cocoa commitment is helping to empower a young generation of female farmers to continue to fight gender stereotypes, in West Africa.

The Cocoa supply chains in West Africa, from which the majority of the cocoa sold in the UK is sourced, is notorious for poor labour conditions and issues with exploitative child labour and slavery.

The way in which Fairtrade Foundation has been working to raise the bar on acceptable standards in the industry has been particularly important and our commitment to Fairtrade cocoa has been an important part of this change – having been the first UK retailer to have 100% Fairtrade chocolate bar and confectionary range.

Fairtrade Africa’s Womens’ leadership school

Many of the new generation of female farmers face legal, social and cultural barriers to working in the cocoa industry. This means the younger generation are choosing to move away from cocoa farms and into the city.

As part of Co-op’s commitment to Fairtrade, they directly support funding the Fairtrade Africa’s Womens’ leadership school projects, working with women from farms in Cote D’Ivorie to empower them as future leaders. The farms who benefit from the Womens’ Leadership School are trained in business skills such as decision making, resource management and leadership.

Co-op also work with Kuapa Kokoo, a product organisation that works to ensure female cocoa farmers have access to training and resources.

Redressing the imbalance in the cocoa industry

Co-op have a long history in working to redress the imbalance in the cocoa industry and its underlying issues, such as:

  • In 1994 we sold the UK’s first Fairtrade chocolate bar and became the first in the world to launch an own brand Fairtrade chocolate bar
  • In 2003 we were the first to switch our entire Co-op chocolate range to Fairtrade
  • In 2018 we made sure all our Co-op confectionery is Fairtrade and all cocoa sourced for Co-op branded products is done so on Fairtrade terms

I’m proud of all the work our Co-op has done over the years, but our continued backing of Fairtrade is vital if we are to ensure that bigger international businesses continue to work on standards in their own supply chains.

Paul Chandler
Member Nominated Director


Read more on Fairtrade at our Co-op;

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Tremendous acheivement. I have visited a village in Zimbabwe and seen how it is ruled by the strong hand of the chief, and women are not allowed to contribute an opinion on how the village is run. So to set up such a successful course is wonderful

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Communities around the world, Fairtrade #TheCoopway, Paul's blog