Ben & Jerry's Commitment to Traceable Cocoa
At Ben & Jerry’s, we’re committed to making the best possible ice cream in the nicest possible way. And one of our most important ingredients is cocoa, the star of some of our most popular flavors. As you might imagine, we use quite a bit of it, so for the last several years, we have been intensely working towards a more just future for the cocoa farmers in our network through our partnership with Fairtrade and our Living Income Accelerator. And now we are taking the next big step by joining forces with Tony’s Chocolonely’s Open Chain to advance the mission of ending modern slavery in the chocolate industry, whilst continuing to help farmers on their journey towards a Living Income.
The cocoa beans in the brand-new Chocolatey Love A-Fair treats are sourced through Tony’s Open Chain which helps companies take steps to end modern slavery and child labor in the chocolate industry. By adopting Open Chain’s 5 Sourcing Principles, companies take responsibility for ensuring an open and traceable supply chain and paying a higher price to address poverty, the root cause of social injustice for cocoa farmers.
Ben & Jerry’s already pays farmers a premium for their cocoa beans through an ongoing partnership with Fairtrade, and boosts this further by paying “Living Income” pricing. As part of Open Chain, Ben & Jerry’s will now also commit to Tony's 5 Sourcing Principles which means it will pay an additional premium to further support partner co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire. And, by joining Open Chain, it makes us the first ice cream company to source traceable cocoa via the Open Chain supply network.
We’re excited to start the journey towards segregated traceable cocoa over the next few years.
Inequities In Cocoa Farming
Why such a strong focus on cocoa? Aside from the fact that it’s an important ingredient in our flavors, the chocolate industry faces a number of unique challenges that make it particularly difficult for farmers to thrive. Right now, there are 30,000 cases of modern slavery and 1.56 million cases of child labor in the chocolate industry in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. That’s why we’re committing to Open Chain, an initiative that helps companies to end modern slavery and illegal child labor in the chocolate industry by tackling the root cause: poverty.
The chocolate industry is dominated by a small number of large companies that benefit from keeping cocoa prices as low as possible, no matter the cost to cocoa farmers. 60% of the world’s cocoa comes from just two countries: Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. This means that much of the exploitation in the chocolate industry — modern slavery and illegal child labor — is concentrated there. Farmers, often farming small plots of land, make just $0.78 per day from their crops, falling well below the $2.16 to $2.49 per person per day living income needed to survive in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. That means that farmers are forced into a cycle of poverty that directly causes modern slavery and illegal child labor in the chocolate industry.
What’s the solution? It starts with paying farmers fair pricing for their crop which begins to break the cycle of poverty and, combined with productivity and coaching support, provides the foundation for better farm management leading to better incomes.
We’re excited to be joining forces with Tony’s Chocolonely and their mission to end modern slavery in the chocolate industry! We’re committed to transitioning our cocoa sourcing to the Open Chain way of working, so that our cocoa beans are traceable and responsibly sourced via the Open Chain 5 Sourcing Principles:
- Transitioning to fully traceable cocoa beans.
- Paying an additional premium for their cocoa beans, enabling farmers to earn a living income.
- Promoting strong co-operatives to professionalise and make the work of cocoa farming safe and sustainable. Collectively, this means farmers stand strong and are empowered to structurally change inequality in the value chain.
- Engaging in long-term commitments giving the farmers income security and the opportunity to invest in their businesses.
- Coaching farmers to improve their cocoa productivity and quality and improve their agricultural knowledge on relevant crops.
We have long been committed to sourcing Fairtrade Certified cocoa, sugar, vanilla, bananas, and coffee for all our flavors. When you see the Fairtrade logo on our pints, you know that the smallholder farmers who produced those ingredients received a Fairtrade Premium on top of the regular purchase price for their crop. And as we transition into the Open Chain way of working, we remain committed to Fairtrade.
Living Income Accelerator
On top of being Fairtrade Certified, we collaborate with our partners at Fairtrade to work toward ensuring that our ingredient producers can make a living income and lead full, dignified lives and we use a project based initiative we call the Living Income Accelerator. In 2020, we became the first ice cream company to pay a living income price for the cocoa used in our chocolate ice cream base mix. This means we pay farmers an additional amount on top of Fairtrade Pricing to close the living income pricing gap — money that farmers can use to invest in their farming operations and household needs.
The Bottom Line
At Ben & Jerry’s, we use what we call a linked prosperity business model, which means that we believe that everyone who has a hand in making our flavors should prosper from their relationship with us as we strive to make “justice” our first ingredient. We’re excited to add Open Chain sourcing to the many ways that we bring this model to life in our business in the mission to end modern slavery and illegal child labor in the chocolate industry!