I’d heard rumours, but it wasn’t until I came across a bar of it myself that I really believed it: A fair trade brand-name chocolate bar from ‘big chocolate.’ It was a Cadbury Dairy Milk. We found it in a gas station on the Trans-Canada Highway somewhere near Medicine Hat, Alberta. To boot, it was on special at the same price of all the other Cadbury products, 2 for $1.12. (Which is ridiculous, really.) I did a double take and a triple take. Then I did what any self-respecting food blogger would do: I started snapping photos and sending the news out on Twitter. Oh, and I happily bought a couple of them too.
So what’s the deal here? The news is hardly new, but it is exciting. Cadbury officially announced that it would start manufacturing Dairy Milk with ingredients purchased from from fair trade sources in 2008. About a year later, the first chocolate bars became available in the UK and Ireland, and Cadbury announced that they would extend the program to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (Sorry America, you seem to be out of luck… for now.) According to Cadbury, their goal is to make at least one-quarter of their global dairy milk bars fair trade certified by the end of 2010. They have also pledged a commitment to keeping the the fair trade-certified Dairy Milk bars at the same price as their regular chocolate bars, despite higher ingredient costs.
The chocolate comes from a cooperative in Ghana and the move to fair trade Dairy Milk in Canada is considered the largest fair trade chocolate initiative in the country. Canadians consume over 22 million Dairy Milk chocolate bars each year. According to Cadbury, under their global commitment, over 40,000 small chocolate producers and 60,000 sugar growers will receive a fair price for the product as well as reinvestment of fair-trade premiums back into community-led projects determined by the farmers themselves. Some of these include wells, mobile community health clinics and investment into more sustainable farming techniques.
Since my discovery last week in Alberta, I’ve seen the fair trade Dairy Milk readily available in no less than four provinces during my vacation travels. I’ve also seen billboards advertising the chocolate bar and explaining a bit about fair trade. I hope that this is just the beginning (Apparently Cadbury is considering switching other brands over the Fair Trade.), and that other ‘big chocolate’ companies like Nestle and Hershey will also make similar commitments.
What do you think about fair trade Dairy Milk, or ‘big chocolate’ and fair trade? Have you seen it in stores near you? Will it change your buying habits? Is the ‘mainstreaming’ of fair trade a good thing or do you see potential pitfalls?