The future of one of the world's most beloved crops—the one that gives us chocolate—was called into question at this year's World Cocoa Conference, where experts advised that a variety of issues could jeopardize sustainability. World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) president Barry Parkin issued a warning to the industry that unless wages rise for growers, the future of cocoa is hazy.
The cocoa industry initiative CocoaAction, founded in 2014 by nine of the largest manufacturers and distributors in the cocoa industry—including Hershey, Ferrero, Nestle, and more—has made it its mission to create a more sustainable future for the crop. According to the head of sourcing for Mars—the company behind M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, and numerous other beloved candy bars—in order to "get to sustainable," the industry has to "triple or quadruple the income" for farmers. "That's the harsh reality... to get to a living income, a level where farmers are thriving, where the next generation want to be farms, it's a big big step," he adds.
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According to Confectionary News, the 100-member WCF and its CocoaAction committee hopes to raise the quality of life for those producing their cocoa crops. In fact, number of European civil organizations have already called upon these industry giants to boost farmers' incomes.