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The True Cost of Your Xmas Chocolate Selection box

Christmas is the time of year for a little bit of over-indulgence, and that means chocolate. From the advent calenders, to tree decorations, to truffles; the average Brit eats around 7kg of chocolate every year. But did you know that most of the farmers who pick the cocoa beans have never tasted the finished product?


In Central and South America, chocolate has been considered a delicacy since around 1200BC where it was revered for its health-giving properties. Spanish conquerors brought cocoa to Europe and by the eighteenth century it had become an upper class breakfast drink, touted by some as an aphrodisiac. But it wasn't until the invention of the chocolate bar in the nineteenth century, that the nation really fell in love. Tasty, portable and cheap, chocolate became something everyone could enjoy, and we keep going back for more.


Last month we questioned whether Fairtrade products really represent a straightforward ethical choice; with supermarket shelves packed from floor to ceiling with novelty chocolate figures, giant selection boxes and handmade delicacies, what to choose may seem complicated enough. However, our propensity to scoff one too many strawberry creams during the festive season makes the contrast between us and those who've never eaten chocolate even starker.


Buying Fairtrade has gotten even easier. Back in March, the hugely popular chocolate maker Cadbury announced that all its big-selling Dairy Milk bars would be Fairtrade by the summer. Their beans are sourced from Ghana, where the demand for Fairtrade cocoa beans has now tripled. At the moment, the farmers benefiting from this increased demand are all members of the Kuapa Kokoo Union, which was established in 1993 in partnership with a UK company and also produces beans for the well known Fairtrade brand, Divine.


As a result of this enormous increase in demand, Kuapa Kokoo hopes to open up opportunities for even more Ghanian farmers to join the Fairtrade scheme, which, in addition to consistently higher returns on their beans, also pays an extra $150 per tonne sold to community projects. The support of brands like Dairy Milk also suggests that Fairtrade products are becoming increasingly mainstream. And, during the season of goodwill to all men, surely this can only be positive.

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