Media advisory: Oxfam and cocoa farmers at World Cocoa Conference in Brussels

Published: 22nd April 2024

Oxfam experts, together with cocoa farmers, will be at the World Cocoa Conference in Brussels (21-24 April), taking place against a backdrop of unprecedented production shortfalls and skyrocketing cocoa prices, which topped $11,000 per metric ton for the first time.

Chocolate giants have already raised prices for consumers to offset rising cocoa costs and, despite years of soaring profits and massive payouts to shareholders, have consistently pushed back on anything that could reduce their profit margins. New Oxfam analysis has found:

  • Lindt, Mondelēz, and Nestlé together raked in nearly $4 billion in profits from chocolate sales in 2023. Hershey’s confectionary profits totaled $2 billion last year.
  • The four corporations paid out on average 97 percent of their total net profits to shareholders in 2023.
  • The collective fortunes of the Ferrero and Mars families, who own the two biggest private chocolate corporations, surged to $160.9 billion during the same period. This is more than the combined GDPs of Ghana and Ivory Coast, which supply most cocoa beans.

Decades of low prices have made farmers poorer and hampered their ability to hire workers or invest in their farms, limiting bean yield. Old cocoa trees are particularly vulnerable to disease and extreme weather. Many farmers are abandoning cocoa for other crops, or selling their land to illegal miners.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor Bart Van Besien said:

“It’s ironic —the cocoa price explosion could have been averted if corporations had paid farmers a fair price and helped them make their farms more resilient to extreme weather. And it’s hypocritical —chocolate giants are paying high prices now that the market demands it, but have pushed back every single time that cocoa farmers have. The only way forward is fairly rewarding farmers for their hard work.”

And Ismael Pomasi, Chairman of Ghana’s Cocoa Abrabopa Association, said:

"Nothing is more demotivating —all my hard work on the farm barely pays off. Between battling pests and the drought that is killing my cocoa trees, I'm really struggling. I wish I could afford irrigation. If the multibillion-dollar chocolate industry paid fair prices for cocoa, I could actually tackle these problems and make a decent living."

Oxfam spokespersons and farmers available for interviews in Brussels:

  • Nana Kwasi Barning Ackay, project officer at SEND Ghana and Coordinator of the Ghana Civil Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP) (English)
  • Ismael Pomasi, Chairman of Ghana’s Cocoa Abrabopa Association (English)
  • Anouk Franck, Policy Advisor on Business and Human Rights, Oxfam Novib (Dutch, English)
  • Bart Van Besien, Policy Advisor, Oxfam Belgium (Dutch, English, French)

Key dates:

Oxfam spokespersons and farmers will come together to hand out chocolate produced by Ghana’s Women in Cocoa Cooperative (Cocoa Mmaa), and will be available for interviews and photos.

7:30-9:00am CET on 22 April at Place d’Albertine, in front of the World Cocoa Conference.

Notes to editors

Contact information

Belinda Torres Leclercq in Belgium | | +32 (0) 472 55 34 43
Jules van Os in the Netherlands | | +31 6 51573683
Annie Thériault in Peru | | +51 936 307 990

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