With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, one can almost taste delicious mouth-watering chocolate. In modern times chocolate has become more than just a delicacy, but a staple of the American diet and some would even say it is healthy for you. And who would argue with that? However, as some of you may know the Chocolate industry is less than ethical in many ways. Over the past several years many independent companies have popped up with great solutions to this problem such as Organic and Fair Trade certified chocolate. On top of the smaller companies more and more large companies have also pledged to produce chocolate with these criteria, including the very recent announcement by Green & Black (owned by Cadbury)in which all their worldwide chocolate, including the US will be Fair Trade certified.

And even the big cats are starting to make serious changes. Last year, the Fair Trade world was pleased to hear that Cadbury Dairy Milk (0wner of Green & Black), the leading UK Chocolate company would begin producing all their cocoa through Fair Trade certified means. Everyone rejoiced and hoped such a move would influence major US chocolate players to make the same changes. And then came January 2010.

It was announced that US giant, Kraft bought out Cadbury in a high profile business exchange.  The Fair Trade camp gasped with concern about the pledge Cadbury had just made. Would such a huge US Corporation source ethically? Would they hold true to Cadbury’s commitments? Or would all the progress be lost? Fortunately, Kraft has stated they will hold up the ethical sourcing of cocoa, as Cadbury had pledged to do.

One collective sigh for us fair-traders! However, as history has proved before, word is not always action. Will Kraft keep this decision up even if it means higher sourcing costs? One way to be sure, let them know exactly how you feel. Change.org has set up a quick and easy way to write Kraft to let them know, as consumers, you want to see them stick to their ethics. We don’t want to watch another great step forward fall flat on its face! So take a moment to take some action and demand Fair Trade standards. And don’t just stop there, make a choice yourself to purchase only Fair Trade chocolate.

Even though purchasing a dollar-or-two chocolate bar may not seem like its making a difference, think of the message you, as a consumer, are sending, as well as the impact your contribution will have on the workers. Next time you are choosing your sweetie their heart-shaped chocolates, think of those who produced them and make the ethical choice.

-Gina Williams

UPDATE: Our contacts at Transfair have asked us to share the following information with you.  A representative from Cadbury has assured Transfair that the Kraft buyout of Cadbury and Green & Black will not affect the Fair Trade certification of the cocoa used. In fact, a spokesperson for Kraft stated, “…we will of course respect Cadbury and Green & Black’s Fairtrade commitments. Cadbury and Green & Black’s have proud histories in ethical sourcing and if our offer is successful we look forward to maintaining this heritage.”  Looks like all is well in the Fair Trade world! Thank you to Transfair providing us with this information.