FAQ

1. Why is the regional focus of the campaign on West Africa?

About 70% of the world's cultivated cocoa comes from the West African countries such as Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. The majority of the 5.5 million cocoa farmers live in these countries. They produce
mainly conventional cocoa for the mass market: Europe, the world's largest chocolate consumer, imports 90% of its cocoa from these countries. However, the majority of cocoa farmers in West Africa live below the poverty line. As a consequence, there is much child labour on cocoa plantations. In the Ivory Coast and Ghana alone, about two million children work on cocoa plantations, 500 thousand of them under exploitative conditions.

2. Why do you collect at least 100 000 signatures? Why don’t you use online petitions like Avaaz or Campact to reach out for more?

It makes sense to set a specific goal for the campaign. Exactly on the World Day against Child Labour we have reached our goal of 100 000 signatures. However, we do not stop now, but continue collecting signatures until December, in order to inform people across Europe about the injustices in cocoa farming and get them involved. The campaign is particularly active in Eastern Europe. Here it is often difficult to mobilize people for developmental issues and action. On the internet, there is a variety of petition platforms where you can very quickly accumulate a lot of signatures. But often the attention given to the topic wanes just as quickly as it pops up. Our aim is that people who sign our petition have really dealt with the issue. They question their consumption behaviour and are taking actions in addition to simply signing. Therefore, we have decided on "real" signature lists, which we combine with many public actions and events.

3. Can a petition really make a difference? Petitions are being used more and more these days!

Petitions only fail if attention fades quickly. But if they are bolstered by public demonstrations, protests and events realized by many people, companies can quickly become very nervous about their reputation. INKOTA is part of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) which has already achieved this in many cases. Many companies changed their purchasing strategies, and working conditions have improved due to pressure from the public. For example, in April of 2013 former employees of Adidas in Indonesia finally received compensation payments after a CCC action. Make Chocolate Fair! has already been noticed by major chocolate companies and is currently being observed. This is shown by the presence of industry representatives at events and press conferences, and through various contacts of companies before and after actions.

4. The price for chocolate has increased again just recently, so what’s the problem?

Between the 1980s and the 2000s, the global market price for cocoa has been halved. Due to the resulting social and environmental problems in recent years the supply has decreased, while the demand continues to rise. Thus, the global market price for cocoa has been increasing for some years now. Most recently it has been at about US $2,900 per tonne. However, this price is still well below the price levels found in the 1980s. Most important, the revenues of the cocoa farmers hardly increase: The price the farmers actually get for their cocoa beans is often lower than the global market price - due to their poor stance in negotiating which is characterized by the lack of access to market information. As a result, farmers depend on the price dictated by middlemen who buy the cocoa beans on the spot. In contrast to small-scale cocoa farmers, companies can protect themselves through long-term contracts and hedging activities on the stock market against price fluctuations.

5. How can certification of cocoa help?

Certification provides for a relatively higher standard of living, contributes to the protection of the environment and the climate and will lead to more transparency in the value chain of cocoa and chocolate. The certification organisations, or standard setting bodies, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ have independent control systems. Even though they have different priorities, they all ensure compliance with social, economic and environmental standards. That is why we demand that  chocolate companies purchase cocoa which has been certified by one of these organisations. But certification alone does not solve the problems of cocoa farming and trade. The exact impacts of certification on a farmer's living situation are still unknown. Furthermore, the certification organizations can only set certain minimum standards and change the situation up to a certain limit. For a lasting improvement of living and working conditions in cocoa in the producing countries, further changes need to be made by the companies. Finally, structural problems in the cocoa value chain need to be addressed and this has to be done through binding policies.

6. Why is the chocolate industry being addressed and not politicians?

In recent years INKOTA has made very good experiences with campaigns targeting corporations. Companies are afraid of damaging their reputation and losing their customers. Thus, quick success can be achieved through the mobilization of consumers to pressure the industry. Nevertheless, we believe it is equally important that politics create a framework with binding obligations for companies to comply with social and environmental standards. If there are violations of human and labour rights, it must be possible to sue the company. Therefore, INKOTA is active in the CorA network (Corporate Accountability). CorA is a network of civil society organizations, who want to ensure that companies are obliged to respect human rights and internationally recognized social and environmental standards.