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The State of Sustainable Markets 2018: Statistics and Emerging Trends

9 November, 2018 - 18:11
Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) are experiencing significant growth across the world in response to consumer, buyer and producer demands, according to ‘The State of Sustainable Markets 2018: Statistics and Emerging Trends’ report.
The report outlines data on global production volumes and areas, as well as certified producers, for 14 major VSS. These standards, which provide consumers assurances that their purchases support sustainability, can enhance market connections and price premiums for producers, but potentially come with substantial compliance costs.
The State of Sustainable Markets 2018: Statistics and Emerging Trends is the third joint report by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the International Trade Centre (ITC). The report is the most comprehensive global data source available for certified agricultural commodity markets. It presents data that helps small firms take advantage of trends to supply consumers with products that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.The report shows that agricultural land on which certified commodities are grown continues to increase. For some products, such as coffee and cocoa, more than 20% of global cultivation is certified as sustainable.  Certified cotton is witnessing the highest growth rate, with the area under cultivation trebling between 2011 and 2016. Certified cocoa also almost trebled in area; while oil palm and tea-certified areas more than doubled during the same five-year span.
The report finds that in 2016, more than 57.8 million hectares of agricultural land across the world were organic-certified, including land that is in the process of becoming certified as such. This represents 1.2% of all agricultural land worldwide.
In terms of individual standards rather than crops, the State of Sustainable Markets finds that the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) experienced the greatest jump, with the certified area covered expanding more than seven-fold. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) area increased nearly five times, while that of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) nearly quadrupled.

State of Sustainable Markets 2018 highlights

Cocoa: the largest growth in terms of certified areaBetween 2015 and 2016, certified cocoa demonstrated the strongest growth with a 28% increase. However, over the same period, most other commodities experienced single-digit growth or even saw a decline in certified area.
Coffee: 26% of the world’s coffee is certifiedIn 2016, over a quarter of global coffee was certified by at least one of the following standards: 4C, Fairtrade International, Organic, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ.This is a conservative estimate, as the figure could be as high as 45%, if the coffee is not certified by multiple initiatives.
Single-sector standards continue to dominateMarket uptake is largely driven by standards directly targeting mainstream adoption within a specific sector. In each of the sectors discussed, where single-commodity standards have been developed (coffee, cotton, forestry, oil palm, sugarcane and soy), they are by far the largest standards. The dominance of single-commodity standards is particularly remarkable given that they tend to be the newest standards on the market, with the exception of the forestry sector. 
Download the report

Fair Trade USA launches record number of private label products

8 November, 2018 - 09:23
From: international Comunicaffe

"Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, has collaborated with dozens of retailers across the industry (e-commerce, brick and mortar, and foodservice) to launch 176 Fair Trade Certified™ private label items to date in 2018."

Read further the article by international Comunicaffe

Fair trade pioneer Traidcraft saved from closure, though 50 jobs will be lost

6 November, 2018 - 09:25

"Gateshead firm says it will go back to its roots with plan that slims down its staff to just 12 people"
Read further the article by Graeme Whitfield

ISO / CEN "sustainable cocoa" standard postponed to 2019

5 November, 2018 - 14:07
Planned for the end of 2018, the ISO / CEN standard on sustainable cocoa is postponed due to a disagreement over the terms and costs of control.

Even though some chocolate companies have embraced three certification systems (UTZ Certified, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade) it is clear the industry does not want to invest all its money in this. At their request, CEN (European Committee for  Standardisation), the cupola of national standardisation organisations of 33 European countries, launched a process in 2011 to come to a ‘general standard for  sustainable cocoa’. This is quite ambitious, especially if you consider that CEN has left its familiar terrain of quality and safety standards for a difficult concept such as sustainability. Soon ISO, the International Organisation for Standardization, with 163 member countries, was also involved in the process. Many cocoa producing countries also joined the debate and through national mirror committees, other parties (such as companies and NGOs) joined. The ISO/CEN is to become a global standard which clearly defines what sustainable cocoa is and which everyone in the field can apply. It consists of three sub-standards:
  • A Management System Standard for the structure and management of the value chain.
  • A series of criteria in three domains: People (living and working conditions complying with the standards of the International Labour Organisation), Planet (the impact on the environment) and Profit (the revenue of farmers and their productivity).
  • Procedures to guarantee the origin of cocoa, probably via various systems: from fully traceable to formulas that allow for the combination with non-certified cocoa.
The targeted system is Low Threshold/High Bar, which implies different levels of application (basic, medium, high). Recognition at one level implies an action plan for the next step.
Unlike existing certification systems there is no CEN or ISO label on the final consumer product. It is up to the companies to check their claim of sustainable production.
The launch is now planned for 2019.

Aldi facing mounting pressure from LatAm banana supply countries over price cut plans

1 November, 2018 - 10:16

"Germany-headquartered discount retail chain Aldi is facing widespread condemnation from Latin American banana-producing countries over its plans to lower pricing by around a dollar in 2019."

Read further the article on

Sustainability certification initiatives need to be more effective

31 October, 2018 - 09:18
New SOMO research shows that working conditions on many certified farms and plantations are still problematic. Workers face an array of challenges including poor pay, unsafe and unhealthy situations, and they are prevented from standing up for their rights. 
Changes and improvements are urgently needed for ambitious sustainability certification initiatives to become a significant instrument in improving working conditions for farm workers across the developing world.
Download the report

Food supply chain: A step closer to ending unfair trading

30 October, 2018 - 10:24
Parliament approved on October 25 its negotiating mandate for a new EU law to do away with unfair trading in the food supply chain.
The Parliament’s negotiating team has now received a green light to start negotiating with the Council’s Austrian Presidency on the final wording of the new directive that should better protect farmers against buyers’ unfair trading practices.
More information about the Parliament’s negotiating position is available here.
Rapporteur and the Parliament’s chief negotiator Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) said:
“It was now or never and I am happy that in spite of all the pressure in recent weeks from the supermarkets lobby to kill this legislation, the Parliament has given us a green light to finalise the work on new rules that our farmers so desperately need to cut the unfair trading practices from the food supply chain.”
“Now we need to start trialogue talks immediately and to finalise them by Christmas. This is our only window of opportunity to be able to make it before the EP elections.”
“In this battle of David versus Goliath, we need to arm the weakest in the food supply chain to ensure fairness, healthier food and social rights. We will work hard to ensure that consumers continue to have wide access to the highest-quality EU products.”
Next stepsThe negotiating mandate was approved by 428 votes in favour to 170 against and 18 abstentions. The first trilateral talks between the Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission has already started. Once the deal on the final wording of the new EU law is reached, it will have to be confirmed by both the Parliament and the Council.

"Exporting bananas under the conditions imposed by Aldi is not viable"

27 October, 2018 - 17:27
"The Banana Association of Magdalena and La Guajira (ASBAMA) commented on the recent announcement made by Aldi, the German retail chain, which stated it would unilaterally reduce the purchase price of the banana box by 60 cents in 2019."

Read further the article by Fresh Plaza

Mars will Invest $1 billion in sustainable cocoa supply chain and is distancing itself from certification schemes

21 October, 2018 - 11:27
In September 2018 Mars Wrigley Confectionery launched a new plan to improve the sustainability of its cocoa supply chain. Cocoa for Generations is backed by an investment of $1 billion over 10 years and is incremental to the Sustainable in a Generation Plan investment Mars announced last year.
Mars aims to have 100 percent of its cocoa from the Responsible Cocoa program responsibly sourced globally and traceable by 2025. According to Mars, "Responsible Cocoa means having systems in place to address deforestation, child labor and higher incomes for farmers." This announcement seems a step backwards because the company has already pledged in the past to have 100% sustainably sourced by 2020. 
The company will employ GPS technology to mitigate deforestation. It will also work closely to monitor suppliers for child labor violations and interventions as needed. 
While this new approach is implemented, Mars will maintain its current certified cocoa levels with the Rainforest Alliance and with Fairtrade and work with both organizations as they continue to strengthen implementation to raise the bar across the cocoa sector. Mars applauds both certification organizations’ efforts to organize individual farmers into groups and cooperatives, providing training and implementing management systems in certified farmer groups, and is committed to collaborate with them to improve audit controls, child labor monitoring, traceability and premiums paid to farmers.  As further measurable efforts are made, Mars will continue transitioning its cocoa volumes to these new and stronger approaches.
Supply Chain Divide reported that: "John Ament, Global Vice President of Cocoa, told Reuters while the company had previously relied on certifiers such as the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, it now sees those certifications as insufficient to ensure sustainable practices and a good wage for farmers, which have been losing income despite only growth in demand for cocoa. The company is, therefore, transitioning to setting higher standards internally."
Despite this statement, CEO of The Fairtrade Foundation Michael Gidney said: “Fairtrade certification remains part of the programme and we will work together with Mars to bring a better, more sustainable future to the farmers.”

Fair Trade Movement And UNCTAD Join Forces

20 October, 2018 - 16:10
The two organizations have agreed to work hand-in-hand in their efforts to ensure all workers and farmers get a fair share of the benefits of trade.
The Brussels-based Fair Trade Advocacy Office and UNCTAD are joining forces to improve the living and working conditions of artisans, workers and smallholder farmers and producers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The two organizations, which have both been calling for a more equitable trading system for decades, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 19 October in Madrid.
“From day one, our belief was that the best way to help developing countries grow should come not simply from distributing aid, but through encouraging their trade,” Isabelle Durant, UNCTAD’s deputy secretary-general, said.
“But for trade to be a tool for development, everyone must get a fair deal,” Ms. Durant said. “This is a philosophy we share with fair trade advocates.”
Ms. Durant and the executive director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Sergi Corbalán, were in the Spanish capital attending the annual International Fair Trade Towns Conference.
More than 2,000 fair trade towns now exist – a phenomenon that underscores the growing concern citizens and governments have with current trading practices. And concerned consumers increasingly speak up with their purchases.

Global sales of fair trade certified goods – such as coffee, cacao and bananas – climbed 8% in 2017 to reach €8.5 billion ($9.74 billion), according to Fairtrade International's annual report. The profits put an additional €178 million ($204 million) in the pockets of 1.6 million farmers and workers.

Get rid of labels
But what about the billions who don’t have a label?
For Mr. Corbalán, the long-term answer isn’t to increase certification, it’s to change the system so that all trade is fair.
“Our ultimate goal is to get rid of fair trade labels,” he said.
“We want all farmers to receive a decent price. We want all cooperatives to be strong and able to negotiate the terms of trade. If there’s eventually no need for fair trade labels  anymore then it’s very good news,” he added.
“But we need help because we cannot do the job alone.”
Partnering with UNCTAD, he said, will help get things moving in the right direction.
According to the MoU, the partnership will focus on “promoting a fair and equitable distribution of benefits among value chain actors, especially workers, artisans, smallholder producers and micro, medium and small enterprises.”
“We trust the cooperation of the fair trade networks with UNCTAD will contribute to more fairness in global supply chains and a proliferation of fair trade enterprises” Mr. Corbalán said, adding that the priority sectors will be agriculture, home-wear, jewellery and clothing accessories, leather, cosmetics and textiles.
Ms. Durant said: “I am very happy to sign this MoU tonight, I am certain this will set the first of many steps leading to the change that the developing countries need.”

Fair trade struggles to lift cocoa farmers out of poverty in Ivory Coast

19 October, 2018 - 16:18
Real concern

In recent years, there have been numerous studies attesting that cocoa producers in Côte d'Ivoire, the main producing country, live in poverty. They earn EUR 0.86, around 1 dollar a day, according to Barry-Callebaut and the French Development Agency[1]. This income keeps them below the poverty line[2] and to make ends meet they have to resort to child labour and rampant deforestation (the productivity of cleared land required less labour in the early years).
Disturbing fact: whether producers are certified fair or sustainable does not change much as regards the income they receive. Fairtrade International and True price say[3]that only 42% of Fairtrade certified producers earn above the extreme poverty line[4]and only 23% above the poverty line. According to the same survey, raising 80% of farmers above the poverty line requires a cocoa price of $ 4.72/kg.[5]In other words, Fairtrade International must raise its guaranteed minimum price which is currently only $2 a kilo of cocoa, to which a development premium of $ 0.2 kg is added.[6] The authors of the 2018 Cocoa Barometer are also convinced that the "Fairtrade minimum price is probably far too low to ensure that farmers escape poverty"[7], which raises questions about how this minimum price, in effect for several years, was calculated. Especially as consumers have been led to believe that a fair price can cover the production cost and ensure decent living conditions.

To be fair, it should be noted that the competition between certification systems is fierce in the cocoa market and is not to Fairtrade’s advantage. Large companies prefer UTZ or Rainforest Alliance certifications, which do not set guaranteed minimum prices for producers. In 2017, just under 1.5 million tonnes[8], or 1/3 of the cocoa produced in the world, was UTZ certified. Added problem: 66% of Fairtrade certified cocoa is not sold under fair trade conditions due to a lack of market opportunities. In Belgium, only 1% of the chocolate sold is fair trade.
But this failure (77% of Fairtrade certified producers are below the poverty line) also has other explanations. According to BASIC, which compared the fair trade cocoa sectors in Peru and Côte d'Ivoire, "fair trade cocoa seems to have little significant impact when it is integrated in standardised mass production value chains (this is even more flagrant in the case of sustainable certification.)” [9] which is the case in Côte d'Ivoire.

Cocoa producers in Côte d'Ivoire ©  TDC

How to strengthen equity

To be truly beneficial to producers, to be a real force for change, fair chains must tackle various projects, concurrently:
  • Prioritise the structure of supply chains that are alternatives to those of large groups by enhancing quality through a differentiated price of farm gate prices depending on the varieties (criollo, mercedes, forastero) and grades (1 or 2) [10] of cocoa. In Côte d’Ivoire it is quite possible to get out of the "commodification" that keeps prices low, and to develop specialty cocoas of origin. An example is the SCEB cooperative which produces high quality organic cocoa, sold to Ethiquable[11] to make a certified "small producers' label" chocolate.[12]The Südwind research institute noted that the quality of Côte d'Ivoire's cocoa has increased in recent years, which seems to have pushed some German manufacturers to buy more cocoa in Nigeria, where quality is not as good and prices can be maintained at current low levels.
  • Support the structuring of cooperative unions to make producers' voices heard and try to rebalance the balance of power with buyers.
  • Strengthen co-operatives, particularly in governance, member services, marketing and financial management so that they can acquire sufficient working capital, which in turn will help keep their members.
  • Promote a minimum income for the various stakeholders in the sector, chief among which are cocoa farmers. Fairtrade International and True Price have just estimated this income at $ 2.51[13]per person a day in Côte d'Ivoire. To get closer to this minimum income, Belvas, a Belgian chocolate maker known for its organic chocolate and Fairtrade, launched a new range of Côte d'Ivoire chocolate in October 2018.[14]$ 2.4 (including $ 1.2 in premium) per kilo goes to the producers' cooperative. Unaffordable for the consumer? The premium only represents 10 cents a tablet of 180g.
  • Increase low yields (435 kg/ha) [15] and promote crop diversification
  • Fight against deforestation (Côte d'Ivoire has lost 13 million hectares, or 80% of its forest cover since 1960) to preserve biodiversity, limit its effects on rainfall, yields and therefore, in the long term, its downward impact on revenues. Fair trade chocolate should only be produced with cocoa grown according to the principles of agroforestry.
  • It has to be said: increase the size of farms which are sometimes too small to be profitable. In Côte d’Ivoire they should at least be 2 to 3 hectares, with yields of 750 kg/sec/ ha.[16]
  • To increase the value added in the country of origin, fair trade could also encourage the local processing of cocoa. In this respect, even if the scale remains very limited, the initiatives of local entrepreneurs who have just launched their chocolate brands in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, but also in other African countries, are to be welcomed[17].

    Drying ov cocoa ©  TDC
    National platforms that bring together public authorities, cocoa and chocolate manufacturers, retailers, NGOs and research institutes are also good operational tools to contribute to a more sustainable cocoa / chocolate sector, to better traceability and better income for producers. There are some in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
    However, complex dynamics and the importance of the issues mean that to make the value chains genuinely more sustainable, voluntary initiatives such as fair trade are not enough. In the countries of origin, they must be backed by legislation designed to guarantee remunerative prices for producers, to enforce the conventions of the International Labour Organisation and to stop deforestation. In consumer countries, as has been done in France, legislation which holds companies liable for the impact of their activities all along the production and supply chain is necessary.[18]

    [1] Gaëlle Balineau (AFD) Safia Bernath (Barry Callebaut), Vaihei Pahuatini, Cocoa farmers’ agricultural practices and livelihoods in Côte d’Ivoire, Insights from cocoa farmers and community baseline surveys conducted by Barry Callebaut between 2013 and 2015, Technical notes, AfD.[2] 1.27 USD (World Bank)[3] Fairtrade International and Ture Price, Cocoa Farmer Income. The household income of cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and strategies for improvement, April 2018. The study is based on two surveys conducted in 2016, covering 3,235 farmers and 23 co-operatives.[4] 0.78 USD (World Bank)[5] Fairtrade International and Ture Price, Op., Cit.[6] Fairtrade International is expected to announce a revaluation of the minimum price paid to producers by the end of 2018.[7] Antonie Fountain, Friedel Huetz-Adams, Cocoa Barometer 2018, Voice. [8][9] BASIC (Bureau for the Appraisal of Societal Impacts and Costs), The dark side of chocolate, An analysis of the conventional, sustainable and fair trade cocoa chains, for the French Fair trade Platform, [10] Cocoa is classified into three commercial types: Grade 1, Grade 2 and Sub grade. Cocoa grades 1 and 2 are exported under the trade name "Good fermented: GF". The grading is based on the percentage of defective beans (*Conseil Café-Cacao de Côte d’Ivoire).[11] More information: SCEB – Commerce équitable en Côte d’Ivoire [12] More info: Le label des petits producteurs [13] Fairtrade International and True Price, Op., Cit.[14] More info: Belvas, la chocolaterie belge qui s’attaque au travail des enfants. [15] Gaëlle Balineau (AFD) Safia Bernath (Barry Callebaut), Vaihei Pahuatini, OP. Cit. [16] Johan Declercq, Cocoa and sustainable chains expert. He has worked for 12 years at Max Havelaar Belgique (now Fairtrade Belgium).[17] Hadassah Egbedi, 8 Female Entrepreneurs Promoting Bean to Bar Chocolate Production in Africa, Ventures Africa, August 20, 2018. Un artisan chocolatier ivoirien lance le premier chocolat de pâtisserie fabriqué en Côte d’Ivoire, Jeune Afrique, August 30, 2017[18] Loi n° 2017-399 du 27 mars 2017 relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et des entreprises donneuses d'ordre

    More than €8 billion for Fairtrade products in the world

    18 October, 2018 - 16:27
    "Global sales of Fairtrade products rose by 8 percent to nearly €8.5 billion in 2017, generating estimated premiums of €178 million for farmer and worker organizations." 

    Read further on Fairtrade International website 

    International Fair Trade Charter defines vision for a fairer world

    17 October, 2018 - 09:26
    Many people use the term “fair trade”, but what does it actually mean? Today, more than 250 organizations around the world are uniting to launch an International Fair Trade Charter that sets down the fundamental values of Fair Trade and defines a common vision towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
    More information

    TDC lance un nouvel appel à propositions: coaching en gestion financière et organisationnelle et coaching en marketing

    3 October, 2018 - 15:03
    Trade for Development Centre  is launching a new call for proposals for a coaching track in financial and business management, and a coaching track in marketing.
    Through on-site coaching, TDC aims at reinforcing the capacities of MSME in management (financial, organisational, governance) and in marketing (positioning, access to markets, communication, sales). The main objective is to increase the turnover as well as the revenues through a sustainable reinforcement of the organisation and a better market access.
    Concerned value chains – sustainable tradeCocoa, coffee, fruits, vegetables, leguminous plants, precious metals, tourism.
    Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, DR Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.
    This Call for Proposal entails 2 steps:
    step 1: a preliminary training in data capturing, which will take place in 2019. This training is not compulsory, but it will be a good preparation for the application to TDC’s full coaching program. The registration form needs to be sent back by 19 November 2018 at the latest.
    step 2: a full coaching track in financial & business management and in marketing, with several modules spread over 3 years as from 2020. For this, the application documents need to be sent back by 30 October 2019 at the latest.
    The service proposal, as well as the eligibility and selection criteria are detailed in the documents here below.
    We encourage you to register if you meet the criteria, or to share this information with your members, partners, contacts,...
    More info