Dunwoody High School (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

International Competitor

How Consumers Can Save the Chocolate Industry

Millions of people around the world enjoy chocolate commodities. While consumers from mostly developed countries snack on chocolate, few know anything about the chocolate industry, including the problems created by cocoa cultivation.

About two-thirds of cocoa is grown in the two countries of Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana. The small farmers growing the cocoa are stuck in poverty, making less than a dollar a day. Some farm workers are stuck in slavery, making no money at all. There are many children doing dangerous tasks to cultivate
chocolate. Additionally, chocolate cultivation has caused widespread deforestation, contributing to the climate changes we see today.

Large chocolate manufacturers have tried to keep these atrocities a secret. Most consumers are ignorant to the dark secrets of chocolate. While there are many possible solutions to these problems, we have found that the best and most effective one is to start by educating the consumer. We have collected data that indicates that consumers have little to no knowledge about the chocolate industry. However, our research also shows that consumers are willing to alter their
habits to improve the problems.

To spread awareness and force the chocolate companies to make a change, we are distributing two letters. One letter is to explain to consumers what is going on in the chocolate industry. The second letter is for educated consumers to send to chocolate companies to demand changes. We find that these letters are crucial in order to spread real change and awareness to a larger population of people.

Through a large social media campaign, we will educate chocolate consumers who are mostly within the age range of 13 and 30. This campaign will inform consumers about labels to look for on chocolate packages, and what these labels indicate. Additionally, they will learn about the main chocolate companies and their policies on climate change, child labor, low wages, and overall transparency.

To spread awareness for the problems occurring in the cocoa industry, we plan to reach out to celebrities and influencers. Celebrities and influencers will be the most successful in sharing information about the cocoa industry with our target market of 13 to 30 year olds. With the help of celebrities and influencers, we hope to educate more consumers, especially young people, about the problems in the cocoa industry.

Their YES! topic

The dark secret of chocolate – How can we support sustainable cocoa cultivation?

by Gunther Bensch and Katrin Kaestner

Chocolate is a coveted sweet in Germany: with a per capita consumption of around 8.6 kg per year, Germany is second only to Switzerland in terms of global per capita consumption.

Most of the cocoa in our chocolate comes from the two main producing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana. In these two West African countries, about 2/3 of the world’s cocoa is grown by about 2 million small farmers. The price paid to the farmers is low: According to a study from 2018, the per capita income from cocoa in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire is estimated at around 0.78 dollars per day (Cocoa Barometer, 2018).

Recent studies emphasize that although cocoa certification can ensure that a higher price reaches cocoa farmers, certification alone cannot guarantee a living wage and sustainable cocoa cultivation. The latter includes the problem of deforestation, as described in a study by the NGO “Mighty Earth”: If the soils are no longer fertile, the cocoa-growing area is simply expanded. Due to the lack of state regulations, intact and often protected forests are often destroyed in this shift of cultivation areas. The deforestation of rainforests has a negative impact on the climate, as it destroys the largest carbon reservoir on our planet. Intermediaries and international chocolate companies who buy this cocoa are also responsible. These briefly mentioned problems underline the importance of sustainable cocoa cultivation and a living wage for cocoa farmers. The development of possible solution strategies, how we as chocolate consumers can promote a sustainable cocoa value chain and prevent deforestation are questions of resource economics and this YES! challenge.

  • How can we help cocoa farmers in West Africa earn a better income and grow cocoa more sustainably?
  • How can we as consumers encourage multinational companies to pay more attention to their cocoa’s origin and the associated deforestation?
  • A higher price per bar of chocolate as a solution?
  • How can we determine whether the population would be willing to pay a higher price for chocolate in favor of farmers or the climate?
  • How can awareness of deforestation caused by cocoa farming be raised in society so that society is willing to pay a higher price?
  • What political measures could be used to enforce a higher price?
  • Is reducing chocolate consumption a solution?
  • Which political measures could reduce chocolate consumption?
  • Other certifications/labels that focus more on deforestation?