Understanding where your food comes from is incredibly important. Most people usually have very little understanding of where their food is grown, the process by which it reaches them, and the prices paid to everyone involved in the journey.
Not having even a basic understanding of food supply chains helps give rise to numerous problems, including the entrenchment of unsustainably low prices paid to the farmers at the beginning of the chain. This is the case with cacao – the global commodity price is so low it results in cacao farmers becoming locked into endemic poverty. Prices are low for many reasons, and we recommend reading “Cocoa,” by Kristy Leissle, which details the driving factors behind inequity in the global cocoa supply chain. For a broader look at the roots of the problem we recommend “The True History of Chocolate” by Sophie & Michael Coe.
Transparency is one important step in helping raise consumer awareness surrounding the cacao supply chain. We believe it’s important to share the prices we pay for our cacao, since how farmers and cacao producers are compensated is (or should be) an important consideration when deciding which chocolate to buy. Listed below are the prices we paid, per ton, for each of our cacao origins in 2022. For comparison we’ve included the commodity price, as well as the 2022 Fair Trade minimum price.
A couple important notes about these prices: the commodity price fluctuates daily, so we’ve included the high and low for the year. Also, note that the Fair Trade Minimum price is actually less than the highest commodity price. Many people mistakenly believe that the Fair Trade price for cacao is always greater than the commodity price, but this isn’t always the case since the Fair Trade price is set annually and the commodity price changes daily. One other thing to remember about Fair Trade is that, in addition to the Fair Trade Minimum price, the seller is also paid a Fair Trade “premium,” which in 2022 was $250 per ton. So, this number should be added to the Fair Trade Minimum when calculating the total price paid. For a more detailed explanation about Fair Trade and its impact check out this post, and you can also visit the Fair Trade International website.
And, we need to point out that just because we’re paying, say $8,920 for a ton of cacao it doesn’t mean that all of that money is going directly to farmers. There are many costs involved, including getting cacao to the fermentation facility, constructing, maintaining and staffing it, preparing the cacao for shipment, transporting the cacao, customs duties and warehousing are all part of the cost. The higher prices we’re paying reflect not only the extra time and effort being put in to producing high quality, fine flavor cocoa, but also result in more money in the pockets of farmers. In the case of our Esmeraldas and Almendra cacao we deal with a single farm and pay those farmers directly. Asochivite is a cooperative among farmers in the same village who do their own fermentation and drying, and we work with 10 specific farmers in the association. For our Boyaca, El Carmen, Ucayali, and Zorzal cacao the process is more representative of how the majority of the world’s cacao is sourced, in that the farmers and groups we work with source from numerous farmers in the area and pay those farmers a “farm gate” price for their wet cacao beans, with the farm gate price being higher than what they would receive from either selling their cacao locally or to a commodity buyer. We’ll delve into farm gate prices in a future post, but for now be sure to check out the details how how we source each of our origins under the “Our Chocolate” heading on our home page.
All that being said, here are the prices we paid for our cacao in 2022:
COMMODITY & FAIR TRADE
2022 Commodity Price: High: 2,551, Low, $2,220
2022 Fair Trade Minimum: $2400
2022 Fair Trade Premium: $250
PRICES WE PAID
Asochivite: $8,058 + a $350 “bonus”
El Carmen: $5892
As always we’re happy to answer any questions about our cacao sourcing practices – simply email us at email@example.com. And, we also urge you to encourage your other favorite chocolate makers and companies to share the prices they’re paying for their cacao, too!