The coalition of NGOs behind the Cocoa Barometer have launched a consultation on farm gate prices, calling on chocolate companies and government cocoa bodies to pay significantly higher fixed farm gate prices and premiums to cocoa farmers.
The consultation comes after six months of falling global cocoa prices, which now stand at around $1,900 per tonne, down from around $3,000 a tonne for most of last year. For the first time in over a decade, cocoa prices have dropped below the Fairtrade minimum floor price of $2,000 per tonne.
The cocoa sector is enjoying a period of positive and extensive collaboration on sustainability issues, with chocolate companies and governments working together on gender, child labour, deforestation, rural poverty, and, most of all, farmer productivity.
Yet there has been very little discussion of the idea of tackling farmer poverty in the most direct way: by paying them more.
"Everyone agrees a price increase is not the only thing we need to be looking at. But it seems we are looking at everything except for how to raise prices for cocoa farmers."
- Antoinie Fountain, MD of VOICE Network
There is a dearth of ambitious approaches to tackling farm gate prices. The Fairtrade minimum floor price of $2,000 a tonne is a start, but even to return cocoa prices to those enjoyed before the last three decades of commodity price stagnation would involve tripling this amount. Adjusted for inflation, the average long term cocoa price over the last 150 years has been about $6,000 a tonne.