Chocolate Fair Trade: Bolstering, Hampering, or Reversing Progress?

Advertisement Critical Review. A critical review of the advertisement shows that it contains some of the racial or ethnic biases while trying to attract those that are socially conscious. The advertisement seeks to inform and persuade a consumer that seeks to be a contributing member of society that want to do good, and an environmental preservationist. At the onset of the advertisement, it appears to be a news cast, demonstrating to the viewer that they have an important message. One ethnic or racial bias is the narrator with an African accent, and the newscaster is white, possibly to add credibility or an association that since it’s a Western news cast it’s more believable. Cadbury further attempts to convince viewers through storytelling about how their purchases impact people around the world and uses maps to depict it. They use key words of “joy” and then they emphasis the joy visually with cartoon smiling faces. The entire commercial seemed to be carefully planned: the use of a cartoon artistry, the complimenting music, and the whimsical tone of the cartoon, demonstrate an effort to evoke feelings of happiness.

The reason the advertisement they sought to inform was because in 2009, Cadbury made a bold move to enter the Fair Trade Chocolate system. By entering Fair Trade, a Green Magazine, states that Cadbury quadrupled the Fair Trade chocolate supplied by Ghana. In 2012, Cadbury also announced sourcing their dairy milk from Fair Trade as well. Other big chocolate manufacturers followed suit. Mars launched a bar in 2012 with the same intent. Nestle followed suit with their “Nestle Cocoa Plan” and entering Fair Trade for their Kit Kats in 2013. These chocolate manufacturers showed some initiative to join Fair Trade, but only in a small way, since one bar only accounts for a minimal amount of sales. In terms of the advertisement, they market their idea and use concepts that are borderline manipulative, as they do not indicate that it is one product, not their entire product line.

Pic 1Cadbury’s image advertisement echoes the video and depicts the process one would take if they wanted to support Fair Trade, and one’s first step would be to purchase Cadbury chocolate. 

But what is Fair Trade? It’s important to define Fair Trade and analyze its impact. It is equally important to not see it as an all-encompassing perfect solution that results in ethical and equitable business practices throughout the spectrum of the supply chain. Several opponents of the Fair Trade concept have argued that there is a tremendous amount of systemic inefficiencies in the model. For example, the cost of Fair Trade membership to the farmers is high, and the overhead costs of Fair Trade agencies are high, lowering the financial benefits to the farmers and local communities.

Pic 2
The advertisement highlights the concept that Fair Trade is not a perfect solution, and secondly, that Direct Trade should be supported at the same time to make a step forward in ethics.

Critical Review of the Author’s Article. The advertisement plays on the original Cadbury commercial about Fair Trade. A critical review of the advertisement shows that it may contain a hidden biases; however, the message is to be a driving force for improvement in the cacao supply chain. In comparing the Cadbury advertisement with the author’s, instead of simply buying Cadbury to contribute to ethical business practices, the author’s advertisement shows that one should support Fair Trade Reform and support Direct Trade to make more of an impact. In terms of design and artistry, the advertisement still shows a smiling happy theme. Cadbury’s original image showed an African woman holding the sign, illustrating that western society associates chocolate with Africa and people with African ethnicity or descent. Is the use of an African women smiling, a hidden bias? In one perspective, it can be, as South American and Asia produce cacao, albeit not on the same scale as Africa. Another perspective is that by having a female that is modestly dressed and not having a wide posed smile, it could be seen as a way to empower women. It also changes the theme that the current Fair Trade is sufficient. The advertisement demonstrates that while the creation of Fair Trade was an incremental improvement on the chocolate production industry in some aspects, it needs reform to ensure that farmers get a higher portion of profits. Wydrick recommends eliminating the Fair Trade idea altogether, but there is a possibility to address the inefficiencies and make it a “True Fair Trade” initiative. The intention of the Fair Trade movement was rooted in good will, and the member institutions have the motivation to drive change for the better. Fair Trade has tremendous potential to become the truly ideal model that it once originally envisioned; however, it major reform efforts should focus on the critical issues below while still being able to be scalable.

Critical Issues and Recommendations:

1) Add a government and community layer to ensure government support for adhering and enforcing fair trade values, as well as increasing transparency in the spending of the community finances and limit expenses of membership of Fair Trade, and ensure proper distribution of funds. (Martin Lecture).
2) Introduce penalties for introducing bad beans into the system.
3) Encourage sustainable farming and local/community cooperatives.
4) Increase profits for farmers.
5) End exploited labor. The 2020 goal is admirable; however, big chocolate manufacturers should impose hard deadlines and have realistic benchmarks, as well as form a joint committee to oversee life-cycle management of the issue.



Chambers, A. (2009). Guardian. “Fairtrade products, such as the newly anointed KitKat,       can offer little extra benefit to farmers and may even hold them back”

Coe, S and Coe, M. (2013). The True History of Chocolate (3rd ed.). London: Thames & Hudson.

Fairtrade America. (2015, March 10). Life on a Fairtrade Cocoa Farm [Video file]. Retrieved from

Fairtrade UK. “Cadbury” Retrieved from

Martin, C. (2016). “Slavery, abolition, and forced labor.’” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard Extension School: Cambridge, MA. 20 Feb. 2016. Class Lecture.

Mintz, S. (1986). Sweetness and Power : The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books.

Praekelt Cr. (2011, June 30). Cadbury Diary Milk is going Fairtrade [Video file]. Retrieved from

The HighFive Company (2015, November 11). Taza Haiti Direct Trade . Retriedved from:

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s