While Easter is all about remembering Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross, it’s also a time of year when Australians consume a lot of chocolate. But how can we be sure our chocolate treats weren’t made at the expense of others?

In recent years, Australians have spent a whopping $191 million on chocolate for Easter: that’s a lot of eggs and bunnies to get through! We’ve touched on shopping ethically and buying fair trade in the past, but how can we ensure our tasty Easter treats haven’t been purchased at the expense of others?

What does fair trade mean?

According to Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, fair trade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

Fast facts about cocoa production

Around the world, 90 per cent of cocoa is grown and harvested on small family farms of 4.8 hectares or less, while just five per cent comes from plantations of 40 hectares or more.

Though the majority of cocoa consumption occurs within the developed world, cocoa is grown in tropical regions of the developing world. More than 30 developing countries produce cocoa: it's an industry that supports more than 14 million people. In the Ivory Coast and Ghana, 90 per cent of farmers rely on cocoa as their primary source of income.

The challenges faced by cocoa farmers

  • Low cocoa prices sometimes don’t even cover the cost of production.
  • Expensive production costs including tools, fertilisers and pesticides.
  • Lack of economic diversification and education, stopping them from engaging in more lucrative pursuits.
  • An increase in child and slave labour in cocoa-producing West African countries.

Patience’s story

There are 168 million child labourers worldwide and an estimated 1.8 million children working on cocoa fields in the Ivory Coast and Ghana alone. One of these children was 11-year-old Patience from Ghana. When her parents died, relatives sent her to work on a cocoa farm and so began her life of child labour.

When Compassion staff from the centre she attends heard of her struggle, Patience was taken out of the cocoa farm and a placed with a foster caregiver to ensure she continue attending the Compassion centre and receive an education.

As children in Compassion’s programs are known, loved and protected, Patience was saved from a life of child labour and given the chance to simply be a child. Yet there are still nearly two million children used to produce so much of the chocolate we consume.

What can you do?

Look for chocolate that is certified fair trade to be confident the people who created your delicious treat were appropriately compensated. How can you be sure it’s fair trade?

Not just anyone can put a fair trade stamp on their products. For a company to use fair trade certified ingredients, it is a huge commitment and a very big deal. Why? Because for a company to commit to fair trade, they have to pay three premiums:

  • The market premium to make sure the workers are paid fairly.
  • A premium into investing into the local community that sources the ingredients.
  • A premium to a fair trade organisation who can audit the supply chain and ensure the money is being used properly and standards are met.

If you see a fair trade stamp, you can know that the product is actually fair trade. How about purchasing a chicken from Gifts of Compassion to go with your fair trade chocolate this Easter? You know, a chicken lays eggs, it’s all related! Gifts of Compassion are not only ethical gifts, they can be life-changing for children and families living in poverty.

From all of us at Compassion, have a blessed Easter as we remember the true reason we celebrate: honouring Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross for us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

—1 Peter 1:3, NIV

Words by Monique Wallace

Photos by Ian Johnson, Vera Mensah-Bediako and Chuck Bigger

SOURCES: Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, Smart Company, ILO, Slave Free Chocolate

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