Behind Fair Trade: Why We Hold Our Commitment

If you’ve ever shopped for chocolate, you’ve likely come in contact with the term “fair trade.” And while it’s a safe assumption just by its name that fair trade is “probably good,” there’s so much more to explore behind the label. 

At Marich, choosing to use fair trade cocoa is a no-brainer, as it aligns closely with two of our core values: 

  • Integrity to do what is right versus what is convenient, and 
  • Responsibility to our company, its people, customers, and the world we live in.

The far-reaching impacts of the fair trade movement are important to us, and the reason we became Fair Trade Certified™. 

Here’s why we continue to hold our commitment.  

Traditional Cocoa Supply Chains

It’s important to understand the impacts of the traditional cocoa supply chain. For the most part, conventional cocoa is grown in West Africa, and organic cocoa is grown in Latin America, typically in areas facing extreme poverty. Most traditional cocoa farmers live on less than $1/day, making it impossible to invest, grow their businesses, or improve production. With a high demand for cocoa production and limited schools or infrastructure, child labor still continues in many of these areas, despite industry efforts to eradicate it. In addition to the direct impact on farmers, children, and communities in these regions, traditional cocoa practices have resulted in large-scale deforestation. In fact, according to Fair Trade USA, “researchers estimate between 80-90% of primary forest in the world’s top cocoa-producing country, Côte d’Ivoire, has been lost since the 1960s.”

Fair Trade: The Movement

Many mark the start of the fair trade movement with Edna Ruth Byler. In 1946, after taking a trip to Puerto Rico, Byler was deeply impacted by the poverty she witnessed. This sparked her to begin a small project selling needlecrafts from women in South America, and ultimately led to her lifelong effort of connecting artisans in developing countries to the North American marketplace. 

With a deep focus on improving both social and environmental standards, Ruth’s work eventually expanded into a series of organizations that would later underscore the global fair trade movement. 

Today there are several recognized fair trade certifiers, including Fairtrade International, Fair for Life, Rainforest Alliance, and EFI Certified—all who share a common vision of improving the lives of producers. Here at Marich, we partner with Fair Trade USA, whose focus is on empowerment and community development, with an emphasis on direct environmental effects and sustainable resource use.

Fair Trade USA: The Impact Model

Founded in 1997, Fair Trade USA works to ensure farms are adhering to rigorous standards that promote sustainable livelihoods, safe working conditions, environmental protection, and strong, transparent supply chains. In addition to ensuring farmer wellbeing (safe and healthy working conditions, fair labor rights, and wages) and environmental stewardship, Fair Trade USA’s impact model goes beyond helping with community development and empowerment. For every Fair Trade Certified™ product sold, Marich pays a Fair Trade Premium that goes directly into a producer-managed Community Development Fund at the origin. From there, a democratically elected committee manages the funds and projects, choosing right-fit investments for their specific community’s needs.

​Below you can see Fair Trade USA’s impact model, which highlights the flow of impact from you, our consumers, all the way back to the farms where our cocoa originates.

Fair Trade at Marich

Marich chocolates are sourced from Ecuador and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). In 2018, Marich’s CEO and President, Brad and Troy van Dam were able to visit the Kpatabonou Village, in the Oumé section of Côte d’Ivoire. Here, the community was able to completely renovate their water pump with Community Development Funds received through the local cooperatives’ partnerships with Fair Trade USA. 

In addition to clean water, Fair Trade USA coops in Côte d’Ivoire have also invested their Community Development Funds in women’s entrepreneurship, a new school building, school supplies, and farm investments that improved crop consistency, quality, and efficiency. 

Learn more about our fair trade experience here

Our Fair Trade USA Certified Products

Shopping fair trade with Marich is easy. All our Fair Trade Certified™ products, which includes the majority of our packaged products, are marked with the Fair Trade USA Certified label. 

Categories: Inside Marich