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Chocolate Makers Face Sustainability Dilemma Over Farmers’ Pay

  • Cocoa growers frustrated about slow uptake of new price plan
  • Ivory Coast, Ghana start review of sustainability programs
Workers demonstrate the fermentation of cocoa seeds on a cocoa plantation in Agboville, Ivory Coast.

Workers demonstrate the fermentation of cocoa seeds on a cocoa plantation in Agboville, Ivory Coast.

Photographer: Jose Cendon/Bloomberg

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Chocolate makers are facing an ultimatum -- either support a contentious plan to raise the pay of impoverished farmers, or risk a halt to programs that sustainability-conscious consumers increasingly demand.

West African neighbors Ivory Coast and Ghana, where more than 60% of the world’s cocoa is grown, are becoming frustrated by the slow uptake of a strategy adopted in July to levy a $400-a-ton premium to help improve growers’ pay. This week, they threatened to suspend programs that chocolate makers rely on to certify that their beans are not grown in protected forests or with the forced labor of children.