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Sewing the pieces together : towards an eu strategy for fair and sustainable textiles

11 December, 2019 - 14:38

Workers’ rights violations in the textiles industry have received more attention since the catastrophic fall of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. More recently, there is also growing recognition of the serious environmental impacts associated with textile value chains. The EU has put in place policies to address these sustainability challenges, but these policies are limited, scattered, and varying in relevance to textile value chains. 

This report by ECDPM presents insights for an integrated EU strategy in support of sustainable textile supply chains, and it can inform specific policy processes. The report assesses various policy measures, and explores how the EU can enhance synergies between different policy areas.
This for instance includes an analysis of EU-wide human rights and environmental due diligence legislation, policy measures related to market access to the EU, an ecodesign-style approach for textiles, and an EUlevel multi-stakeholder initiative for sustainable textiles. Stepping up EU efforts to contribute to sustainable textiles is timely and can be part and parcel of the European Green Deal. More broadly, it can support the EU’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, in particular Goal 12 of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Download the Report

International Fair Milk Conference: From Europe to Africa

13 October, 2019 - 19:47

The 6th International Fair Milk Conference that took place on October 12 was a truly special event: For the first time, dairy farmers from Africa and Europe have come together to celebrate successful projects promoting milk production. By awarding the Golden Faironika, they also expressed special thanks to policy-makers, journalists and colleagues for their exceptional commitment to fairness.Here you have the Fair Milk Fairebel in Belgium, making history for 10 years now with fair milk prices for local dairy farmers. There you have Fairefaso, a farmers’ milk brand that has been successfully brought on the market by producers in Burkina Faso, in West Africa. Add to that fellow dairy farmers from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland, as well as Mali, Niger, Senegal and Chad who have successfully fostered a strong spirit of solidarity not only with consumers, but with each other as well. All of this is part of the Fair Milk story, which began in Austria in 2006 and is being collectively continued today in Libramont.Erwin Schöpges, EMB President and person in charge of the Belgian Fair Milk project – the hosts of this year's international conference, is a convinced supporter of the idea as well as its practical implementation. "If as a dairy farmer you see that your own sector and colleagues are constantly under pressure, that economic survival is practically impossible, then you will want to and must take action together. Ten years ago, we decided to join the EMB's Fair Milk project in Belgium. It was a good decision." This decision is bearing fruit and developing further. "We want to act fairly within Europe and beyond as well, which is why we have now started cooperating with Fairtrade Belgium. This means that in the future, our chocolate milk drinks will be made from Fair Milk as well as fairly-traded cocoa."Golden allyAt Saterday's awards ceremony within the context of the Fair Milk Conference, the Golden Faironika – the dairy farmers' award – was presented to citizens and institutions that have made special contributions to fairness and sustainability. The newspaper Politico was one of the recipients of this honour for its diligent research and reporting. Member of European Parliament Maria Noichl was awarded this amiable golden cow for her commitment to creating a crisis-proof dairy market. The trophy was presented to Swiss dairy farmer Werner Locher by his colleagues for his tireless political engagement and his strong support for fair, cost-covering milk prices. Former Federal Minister for Agriculture Willy Borsus, who has worked hard to ensure that Belgian dairy producers receive a cost-covering price including a fair income through their membership of Faircoop, was also honoured. The Golden Faironika was also awarded to dairy farmers Herman Vissers from Belgium and Adama Ibrahim Diallo from Burkina Faso for their outstanding commitment. The Luxlait dairy received the award for being a reliable partner to Faircoop, the Belgian Fair Milk cooperative. Lastly, the Golden Faironika was also presented to Agricall, an organisation that has supported farmers and their families for years.According to EMB Vice-President Sieta van Keimpema, the Fair Milk project, and the resulting cooperation between dairy farmers across countries and continents, sends a very important positive message.  "Not everyone against everyone, but together for something. This is what dairy farmers have put into practice in recent years through Fair Milk as well as through their joint political efforts, and with consumers as well. Striving together for cost-covering prices, for a decent living for hard-working dairy farmers, has made all of us rise to the occasion." Now it is just up to a few decision-makers at EU level to do the same, to step up and to finally implement the Market Responsibility Programme (MRP) to bring stability to the dairy sector.

Commission steps up EU action to protect and restore the world's forests

7 August, 2019 - 10:56
On July 23, 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive Communication setting out a new framework of actions to protect and restore the world's forests, which host 80% of biodiversity on land, support the livelihoods of around a quarter of the world's population, and are vital to our efforts to fight climate change. Cautious optimism from NGOs

 Greenpeace - Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert The reinforced approach addresses both the supply and demand side of the issue. It introduces measures for enhanced international cooperation with stakeholders and Member States, promotion of sustainable finance, better use of land and resources, sustainable job creation and supply chain management, and targeted research and data collection. It also launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures to minimise the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and forest degradation.
The European approach is a response to the continued widespread destruction of the world's forests; an area of 1.3 million square kilometres was lost between 1990 and 2016, equivalent to approximately 800 football fields every hour. The main drivers of this deforestation are demand for food, feed, biofuel, timber and other commodities.Greenhouse gas emissions linked to deforestation are the second biggest cause of climate change, so protecting forests is a significant part of our responsibility to meet the commitments under the Paris Agreement. From an economic and social perspective, forests support the livelihoods of around 25 % of the global population, and they also embody irreplaceable cultural, societal and spiritual values.
The Communication has a two-fold objective of protecting and improving the health of existing forests, especially primary forests, and significantly increasing sustainable, biodiverse forest coverage worldwide.The Commission has set out five priorities:
  • Reduce the EU consumption footprint on land and encourage the consumption  of products from deforestation-free supply chains in the EU;
  • Work in partnership with producing countries to reduce pressures on forests and to “deforest-proof” EU development cooperation;
  • Strengthen international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and encourage forest restoration;
  • Redirect finance to support more sustainable land-use practices;
  • Support the availability of, quality of, and access to information on forests and commodity supply chains, and support research and innovation.
Actions to reduce EU consumption and encourage the use of products from deforestation-free supply chains will be explored through the creation of a new Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Deforestation, Forest Degradation and Forest Generation, which will bring together a broad range of relevant stakeholders. The Commission will also encourage stronger certification schemes for deforestation-free products and assess possible demand-side legislative measures and other incentives.
The Commission will work closely with partner countries to help them to reduce pressures on their forests, and will ensure that EU policies do not contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. It will help partners develop and implement comprehensive national frameworks on forests, enhancing the sustainable use of forests, and increasing the sustainability of forest-based value chains. The 
Commission will also work through international fora - such as the FAO, the UN, the G7 and G20, the WTO and the OECD - to strengthen cooperation on actions and policies in this field. The Commission said it will continue to ensure that trade agreements negotiated by the EU contribute to the responsible and sustainable management of global supply chains, and encourage trade of agricultural and forest-based products not causing deforestation or forest degradation. The Commission will also develop incentive mechanisms for smallholder farmers to maintain and enhance ecosystem services and embrace sustainable agriculture and forest management.
To improve the availability and quality of information, and access to information on forests and supply chains, the Commission proposes the creation of an EU Observatory on Deforestation and Forest Degradation, to monitor and measure changes in the world's forest cover and associated drivers. This resource will give public bodies, consumers and businesses better access to information about supply chains, encouraging them to become more sustainable.
The Commission will focus on redirecting public and private finance to help to create incentives for sustainable forest management and sustainable forest-based value chains, and for conservation of existing and sustainable regeneration of additional forest cover. Together with the Member States, the Commission will assess mechanisms with the potential to foster green finance for forests and further leverage and increase funding.

Cautious optimism from NGOs
According to Han de Groot, CEO of the Rainforest Alliance: “This is an important step, but it is only one step towards the comprehensive action we need to see. The EU must energize and empower its constituents to translate these commitments into concrete action
Both transparency on voluntary no-deforestation commitments and exploring regulatory measures are key steps to driving out deforestation from the EU imports by 2030.” said Henriette Walz, Deforestation Lead for the Rainforest Alliance.
The Commission has finally opened the door to regulating the EU’s imports of commodities like palm oil, beef, soy and cocoa, which are the main drivers of worldwide deforestation and heavily associated with human rights abuses. Our message today is to Ursula von der Leyen: we desperately need new laws that require companies to demonstrate that goods they put on the EU market are not tainted with deforestation or human rights abuses,” said Hannah Mowat, campaigns coordinator at forests and rights NGO, Fern.
NGOs cautious optimism was mirrored by civil society in Ghana, where deforestation increased by an astonishing 60% in 2018, driven largely by the production of cocoa, much of which is destined for the EU - the world’s largest importer, processor and consumer of the commodities.
Addressing deforestation is not possible without addressing the EU’s demand for the goods which drive it.” said Obed Owusu-Addai, campaigner at EcoCare, a Ghanaian rights-based campaign and advocacy NGO, which focusses on community rights and forests.“This Communication recognises that trade with highly forested countries can have a negative impact on forests. We therefore welcome proposals to include specific provisions to ensure the trade in agricultural commodities doesn’t lead to deforestation and forest degradation, provided they are legally binding and enforceable. Unfortunately the Mercosur Agreement lacks any specific provisions in this regard” Mowat concluded.

Download the EU Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests 

U.S. senators demand more federal action to stop cocoa imports made with forced child labour

6 August, 2019 - 09:59
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to Kevin McAleenan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, calling on the Administration to enforce existing law and investigate and block any cocoa imports produced with forced child labour.

The Senators’ letter follows a Washington Post report detailing the prevalence of child labour in the production of cocoa imported to the U.S. by large chocolate companies. These companies, including Hershey, Mars and Nestle, originally agreed to eradicate child labour from their supply chains in West Africa by 2005.

“The global cocoa trade is significant, and the U.S. is a large importer of cocoa products.  In 2018 alone, the U.S. imported $608 million of cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, in addition to $100 million of cocoa paste. Given the prevalence of forced child labour in the Ivory Coast’s cocoa sector, it is clear at least some, if not a significant portion of those imports, were produced with forced child labour.  It is time the U.S. took more aggressive action to combat forced child labour in the cocoa sector and to fully enforce Section 1307 as Congress intended,” the Senators wrote.
More than 20 years ago, the Department of Labour (DOL) and Congress worked with large chocolate companies to develop a framework to eradicate child labour from their supply chains in West Africa, which sources the vast majority of cocoa worldwide.  These companies committed to eradicating child labour from cocoa production in West African countries, including the Ivory Coast, by 2005.   Unfortunately, they missed that deadline and several subsequent ones, and the widespread use of child labour in the sector persists.  According to DOL, more than two million children continue to perform the hazardous work of harvesting cocoa in West Africa. 
In their letter, the Senators press Acting Secretary McAleenan to instruct Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to block cocoa imports made with forced labour and, where appropriate, pursue criminal investigations.
A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.

The Smallholder Access Program: an Innovative Approach to Responsible Forest Certification

18 July, 2019 - 10:52
The Smallholder Access Program seeks to make Forest Stewardship Council® certification more accessible to private landowners of 250 or fewer acres
The Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and a consortium of forward-minded forestry corporations announce the launch of the Smallholder Access Program. 
FSC, long considered the gold standard of ecologically-responsible, socially-conscious forest management, has worked to transform forestry practices globally for nearly 30 years through rigorous, science-based standards and a third-party certification system. Building off this experience, the Smallholder Access Program (SAP) is a two-year FSC pilot project designed to increase access to forest certification for woodland owners under 250 acres (100 hectares). 
The SAP will be available to landowners across Southern and Central Appalachia, encompassing parts of Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. 
In its pilot phase, the SAP will be limited to a total enrollment of 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares). The SAP aims to enrich the ecological health and economic productivity of the region, one of the world’s most vital wood baskets and a biodiversity hotspot.
Read further the press release by Rainforest Alliance

Bitter Cup - The Dark Side of the Tea Trade

31 May, 2019 - 11:08
"Working conditions on many of India's tea plantations are disastrous. The pickers live in dire poverty with no clean drinking water and are exposed to pesticides. Why are Indian tea workers not benefiting from the global tea boom?"

Watch the video

FairWild Foundation publishes FairWild Standard Revision and Development Procedure

27 April, 2019 - 11:59
From: FairWildOn April 16, the FairWild Foundation published a new policy document “FairWild Standard Revision and Development Procedure (Version 1/2019).” The document describes the process by which the FairWild Standard – an internationally recognized set of principles, criteria and indicators for verifying the sustainable and equitable trade in wild harvested ingredients – will be periodically reviewed and revised. 
Read further the news

Rapid growth in extraction of materials is the chief culprit in climate change and biodiversity loss

3 April, 2019 - 09:30

  • Resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970, including a fivefold increase in the use of non-metallic minerals and a 45 per cent increase in fossil fuel use
  • By 2060, global material use could double to 190 billion tonnes (from 92 billion), while greenhouse gas emissions could increase by 43 per cent
  • The extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress
Rapid growth in extraction of materials is the chief culprit in climate change and biodiversity loss – a challenge that will only worsen unless the world urgently undertakes a systemic reform of resource use, according to a report released at the UN Environment Assembly.
Global Resources Outlook 2019, prepared by the International Resource Panel, examines the trends in natural resources and their corresponding consumption patterns since the 1970s to support policymakers in strategic decision-making and transitioning to a sustainable economy.
Over the past five decades, the population has doubled and global domestic product has increased four times. The report finds that, in the same period, annual global extraction of materials grew from 27 billion tonnes to 92 billion tonnes (by 2017). This will double again by 2060 on current trends.According to the report, “the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress”. By 2010, land-use changes had caused a loss of global species of approximately 11 per cent.
“The Global Resources Outlook shows that we are ploughing through this planet’s finite resources as if there is no tomorrow, causing climate change and biodiversity loss along the way,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop.”
Since 2000, growth in extraction rates have accelerated to 3.2 per cent per annum, driven largely by major investments in infrastructure and higher material living standards in developing and transitioning countries, especially in Asia. However, the wealthiest countries still needed 9.8 tons of materials per person in 2017, mobilized from elsewhere in the world, which is also driving this trend.
More specifically, the use of metal ores increased by 2.7 per cent annually and the associated impacts on human health and climate change doubled during 2000-2015. Fossil fuel usage went from 6 billion tonnes in 1970 to 15 billion tons in 2017. Biomass increased from 9 billion tonnes to 24 billion tonnes – mostly for food, feedstock and energy.
By using data from historical trends, the report projects into the year 2060. From 2015-2060, natural resource use is expected to grow by 110 per cent, leading to a reduction of forests by over 10 per cent and a reduction of other habitats like grasslands by around 20 per cent. The implications for climate change are severe, as there would be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of 43 per cent.The report says that if economic and consumption growth continue at current rates, far greater efforts will be required to ensure positive economic growth does not cause negative environmental impacts.
The report argues that resource efficiency is essential, though not enough on its own. “What is needed is a move from linear to circular flows through a combination of extended product life cycles, intelligent product design and standardization and reuse, recycling and remanufacturing,” it says.
If the recommended measures are implemented, it could accelerate economic growth, outweighing the up-front economic costs of shifting to economic models consistent with holding global warming to 1.5°C this century.
“Modelling undertaken by the International Resource Panel shows that with the right resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production policies in place, by 2060 growth in global resource use can slow by 25 per cent, global domestic product could grow 8 per cent – especially for low- and middle-income nations – and greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 90 per cent compared with projections for continuing along historical trends,” the Co-Chairs of the Panel, Izabella Teixeira and Janez Potočnik, wrote in the joint preface to the report.
Download the report

New corporate identity for Rainforest Alliance

27 March, 2019 - 09:18
A year on from merging with UTZ, the Rainforest Alliance is devising a single new certification programme to be launched at the end of 2019. As part of their unification, the Rainforest Alliance has launched a new corporate identity.
More info: UTZ, Freshplaza, Rainforest Alliance

Fairtrade becomes a member of ICI (International Cocoa Initiative)

26 March, 2019 - 09:01
From: International Cocoa Initiative
Fairtrade International has joined the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) as a Non-Profit Contributing Partner. The partnership will allow the two organisations to improve their existing operating models and reach more children and their families in cocoa communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to achieve a shared goal of eliminating child labour and enabling child protection.
Read more about the partnership

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

25 March, 2019 - 09:24
GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing) of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fibre (such as organic cotton and organic wool), and includes both environmental and social criteria. Key provisions include a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), highly hazardous chemicals (such as azo dyes and formaldehyde), and child labour, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict waste water treatment practices.
GOTS was developed by leading international standard setters - Organic Trade Association (U.S.), Japan Organic Cotton Association, International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany), and Soil Association (UK) to define globally-recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from field to finished product. GOTS is a non-profit organisation which is self-financed. 
For more information please see

Fair for Life label certifies more than 143,000 producers and workers

24 March, 2019 - 12:21
Fair for Life label certifies more than 143,000 producers and workers, contributing 36% of a development fund to local health and education projects. 

Read more about Fair for life

Illegal cocoa in Swiss chocolate

10 March, 2019 - 10:14
From: RTS
In Côte d’Ivoire, the Maraouhé park is one of the last remaining wild forests,  a sanctuary for the last 200 to 400 elephants in the country.
This forest is however threatened by cocoa. Illegal growers cut old trees and replace them with cocoa trees, as the RTS (French-speaking Swiss television company) was able to verify on the spot. Once in the warehouses of local cooperatives, the beans are mixed with cocoa from other plantations. Traceability is lost. These bags with mixed cocoa are resold as UTZ cocoa and end up in a regional headquarters of Cargill.  Local Cargill employees explained to the RTS that the cocoa is resold to Nestlé and exported to Europe.

Read François Ruchti's article and watch the RTS report.

Living income for cocoa producers in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire

28 February, 2019 - 08:57
One of the objectives of the Belgian "Beyond Chocolate" partnership is to achieve a "living income" for cocoa producers by 2030. Here are the latest studies on living income for cocoa producers in Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Around the world, it's the methodology first developed for the ILO by Richard and Martha Anker (Anker methodology) that is used to calculate a living wage.  In July 2018, the Living Income Community of Practice, co-hosted by GIZ, ISEAL and the Sustainable Food Lab and the GIZ Programme “Sustainable Supply Chains and Standards” produced “Considerations for the use of the Anker methodology for calculating living wages to inform living income estimates.”
The Living Income Community of Practice calculates ‘Living Income’ Benchmarks for the cocoa producing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The Living Income Benchmark studies estimate the net income required for a decent standard of living for a typical family in these regions.
GhanaThe study “Analysis of the income gap of cocoa producing households in Ghana” (KIT) estimates a Living Income Benchmark in rural cocoa growing areas of Ghana to be GHS 21,100 (USD 4,742) per year for a typical male-headed household (up to 4 ha of productive land) of 3.5 adults and 2.5 children. Female-headed households of 3 adults and 2 children have a Benchmark of GHS 17,806 (USD 4,001) per year. Male-headed households with large land size (more than 4 ha of productive land) composed of 3.5 adults and 3 children have a Benchmark of GHS 22,799 (USD 5,123) per year.

The study “Living Income Report Rural Ghana” (University of Ghana) estimates a Living Income in rural cocoa growing areas of Ghana (Ashanti, Central, Eastern, and Western Regions) to be GHS 1,464 ($329) per month for a typical family of two adults and three children.

Côte d’IvoireThe study “Analysis of the income gap of cocoa producing households in Côte d’Ivoire” (KIT) estimates a Living Income Benchmark in rural cocoa growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire to be CFA 3,759,281 (USD 6,517) per year for a typical male-headed household (up to 4 ha of productive land) of 3.5 adults and 3.5 children.
The study “Living Income Report Rural Côte d’Ivoire” (CIRES) estimate a Living Income in rural cocoa growing regions of Côte d’Ivoire (Gôh, Loh Djiboua, Nawa, Mé, Agnéby, Tonkpi, Indénié-Djuablin, Sud-Comoé and San-Pedro) to be CFA 262,056 ($454) per month for a typical family of two adults and four children.
Earlier, in April 2018, True Price and Fairtrade published a study that estimates a living income for a typical 8-member household in Côte d’Ivoire to be USD 7,318 per year.
Having defined living incomes, strategies to close the income gap for smallholder farmers (Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia) are needed. This piece of research has been conducted by AidEnvironment on behalf of the Living Income Community of Practice.
A two-day event was held in Bonn on the 30th and 31st of January 2019 to support learning, action and collaboration around the topic of Living Income. To access all of the presentations and resources from the event visit:

Broken links between EU competition law and sustainability in food systems

22 February, 2019 - 20:08
The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) has launched a report shedding light on the changing nature of competition law and showing where it is currently obstructing sustainability in food systems. The authors give recommendations how to mend the broken links between EU competition law and sustainability to support overreaching policy goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or climate commitments.
The question of whether and to what extent EU competition law can be a tool for sustainability had already been controversially discussed well before the Bayer-Monsanto merger. But this debate is about to be accelerate amidst Germany’s recent announcement to seeking revision of European competition law in their 2020 presidency following the prohibition of the merger between Siemens and Alstom. FTAO welcomes that the recent European Parliament Resolution of 31 January 2019 on the Annual Report on Competition Policy by the European Commission already made strong references to sustainability.
EU competition law’s current main focus on lower prices, more innovation and a wider availability of products for consumers puts not only burdens on the creation of European industry champions but also, more importantly, on sustainability. The narrow lens of consumer welfare hinders the ability to see the ways in which the production of cheap and available products may affect the environment andthe social foundations of our society.
FTAO commissioned the report “EU Competition Law and Sustainability in Food Systems: Addressing the Broken Links” to investigate the broken links between competition law and sustainability. The authors of the report, Dr Tomaso Ferrando (University of Bristol Law School) and Dr Claudio Lombardi (KIMEP University), make a strong case that EU competition law cannot be viewed in isolation but needs to be applied in conjunction with other EU laws, principles, and objectives.
For EU competition law to support -or at least not obstruct- the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the social and environmental commitments in the EU Treaties, the report suggests interpretative, institutional and regulatory changes to the current EU competition framework. For example, EU competition law should not prevent a sector commitment to paying a living wage to farmers in the global south who are selling agricultural products into the EU market.
The full report and a briefing note can be found here

Global organic area reaches another all-time high

13 February, 2019 - 16:10
Nearly 70 million hectares of farmland are organic
The year 2017 was another record year for global organic agriculture. According to the latest FiBL survey on organic agriculture worldwide, the organic farmland increased substantially, and the number of organic producers and organic retail sales also continued to grow, reaching another all-time high, as shown by the data from 181 countries (data as of the end 2017). 
The 20th edition of the study “The World of Organic Agriculture” published by FiBL and IFOAM – Organics International shows a continuation of the positive trend seen in the past years. 
The global organic market continues to grow worldwide and has reached 97 billion US dollars The market research company Ecovia Intelligence estimates that the global market for organic food reached 97 billion US dollars in 2017 (approx. 90 billion euros). 
The United States is the leading market with 40 billion euros, followed by Germany (10 billion euros), France (7.9 billion euros), and China (7.6 billion euros). In 2017, many major markets continued to show double-digit growth rates, and the French organic market grew by 18 percent. The Swiss spent the most on organic food (288 Euros per capita in 2017). Denmark had the highest organic market share (13.3 percent of the total food market). 
Almost three million producers worldwide In 2017, 2.9 million organic producers were reported, which is 5 percent more than in 2016. India continues to be the country with the highest number of producers (835’200), followed by Uganda (210’352), and Mexico (210’000). 
Record growth of the organic farmland: 20 percent increase A total of 69.8 million hectares were organically managed at the end of 2017, representing a growth of 20 percent or 11.7 million hectares over 2016, the largest growth ever recorded. Australia has the largest organic agricultural area (35.6 million hectares), followed by Argentina (3.4 million hectares), and China (3 million hectares). Due to the large area increase in Australia, half of the global organic agricultural land is now in Oceania (35.9 million hectares). Europe has the second largest area (21 percent; 14.6 million hectares), followed by Latin America (11.5 percent; 8 million hectares). The organic area increased in all continents. 
Ten percent or more of the farmland is organic in fourteen countries Globally, 1.4 percent of the farmland is organic. However, many countries have far higher shares. The countries with the largest organic share of their total farmland are Liechtenstein (37.9 percent), Samoa (37.6 percent), and Austria (24 percent). In fourteen countries, 10 percent or more of all agricultural land is organic.
“The World of Organic Agriculture” as well as graphs and infographics can be downloaded at

More and more Belgian chocolatiers going from bean to bar

2 February, 2019 - 11:50
The production process that turns the cocoa bean into a chocolate bar requires many intermediary steps and involves multinational corporations. 
More and more chocolatiers all over the world now want to take the whole process in their own hands. Their raw material of choice is not liquid factory-supplied ‘couverture chocolate’ delivered in large cisterns, but cocoa beans which they personally select in the South. This growing group of artisanal chocolatiers – known as the bean-to-bar movement – resolutely targets quality rather than mass production and looks for top-range beans with exquisite flavours. 
Their work mostly results in a good relationship with cocoa growers and fair pay for the growers’ tough labour.
A new publication of the Trade for Development Centre

Germany’s call for cocoa regulation tightens pressure on the European Commission

28 January, 2019 - 15:55
Source: FERN

The German government has called for European “binding regulations” to set a standard for sustainably-produced cocoa.  The call was made as part of a national 10-point Action Plan for cocoa, launched on 23 January by German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner and Development Minister Gerd Mueller. The 10-point Action Plan sets out how the German government plans to address rampant deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector.  The Action Plan also proposes to train farmers in sustainable cocoa production and strengthen the role of women in the cocoa sector.
The call echoes similar statements from the French and Belgian governments at the end of 2018, where both called for the “rapid adoption” of an EU due diligence regulation to tackle child labour and deforestation in the cocoa sector. Chocolate companies have expressed similar views, concluding at the April 2018 World Cocoa Conference in Berlin that their voluntary commitments to end child labour and deforestation had “not led to sufficient impact”, and that there was a need to look at “potential regulatory measures by governments.”  At a European Commission event in Brussels on 24 January 2019, Mondelez (the world’s second-largest chocolate company) expressed their “strong support” for “harmonized EU legislation to create a level playing field” in the cocoa sector.
Germany’s 10-point Action Plan comes just as the European Commission launches its open consultation (to close 25 February 2019) on “Stepping up EU Action on deforestation and forest degradation”, which sets out how the EU will address deforestation resulting from its consumption of cocoa, amongst other things. The EU is by quite a long way the world’s largest importer of cocoa, responsible for over 60% of global cocoa bean imports. 
Julia Christian, forests campaigner at the NGO Fern, said: “Europeans consume the majority of the world’s cocoa, so we are very much responsible for the nearly 2 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa, as well as the near-total destruction of forests in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana." 

Ethical smartphone company Fairphone raises €20 million

25 January, 2019 - 16:24

"Dutch ethical smartphone manufacturer Fairphone has raised a total of €20 million in funding and debt over the past few months. (...) Founded in 2013 in Amsterdam, Fairphone is a social enterprise that’s paving the road for “ethical electronics.” The company is working on putting the ethics first across the supply chain, from mining to manufacturing to the device’s life cycle."

Read further the article on

Read the blog post by the new appointed CEO Eva Gouwens

'Envoyé spécial" documentary on cocoa: Children trapped

25 January, 2019 - 11:29

A documentary on child labour in Côte d’Ivoire deserves being watched (in French). It was first broadcast on 10 January 2019 for the French television’s ‘Envoyé spécial’ programme. Côte d’Ivoire, globally the biggest producer of cocoa “has really endeavoured to stop a scourge which is a perceived disgrace to the country. Schools have been built; cocoa-growers have been trained. On TV people are frequently reminded that child labour is prohibited. Unfortunately, children are still exploited’.
In the very west of the country, at eight hours of the country’s capital, near the border with Liberia, in remote forests Paul Moreira, a journalist, came across children, some of which had been working for five years... for free on illegal plantations, before they were given a small plot of land to earn just… 200 euros per year. 
The children came from Burkina Faso to the Guiglo area. They were sold by their parents for approximately 200 000 FCFA (300 euros) to work in cocoa plantations. Approximately, because, as one dealer unveils in the documentary: “Like sheep on the market, they may be more or less expensive.”

Children, some of which are still very young, head for the plantations with chemicals sprayers on their backs. They wear no protective gear — which they would not be able to pay for — while they spray loads of glyphosate to kill the weeds on the plots before the remaining trees are burned down and cacao trees are planted.  
In just one week in Côte d’Ivoire’s south-western forests, Paul Moreira “discovered all crimes which the industry undertook to stop: slavery, child labour and the destruction of nature”. Meanwhile, bags of cocoa enter the mainstream cocoa trade circuit. These bags cannot be traced because they are not labelled and in this particular case are delivered to Cargill, which resells the cocoa to big chocolate brands.
Elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire children skip school too. Cocoa growers often lack the means to send their children to school. According to a study by the French development agency (AfD) and Barry Callebaut[1] cocoa growers earn an average 0.86 euro per day. The documentary points out that cocoa growers earned three times that much in the 1980s and raises the question: “Why not a simple cocoa price hike to stop children from working in the fields?“ 
The investigation documentary by Paul Moreira and Pedro Brito Da Fonseca is available (in French) on:
Meanwhile, most producers earn a pittance whereas big corporations continue to make huge profits. Two examples among others: Cargill reported 9 % net earnings increase year-over-year in 2018. According to the annual report of the company "the increasing earnings in food ingredients and applications in particular was lifted by outstanding performance in cocoa and chocolate"[2]. Barry Callebaut announced a 31 % rise in net profit for the same period[3].

[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][3]