Queen Mathilde denounces unfair cocoa prices

"How can we allow such an unfair distribution of value throughout the chain, from cocoa to chocolate?" Belgium's Queen Mathilde asked on Monday morning at the World Cocoa Conference, which is taking place in Brussels until Wednesday and is dedicated to higher prices for sustainable cocoa.

"The fight against poverty for small cocoa producers, better compensation for them thanks to fair prices, better distribution of added value throughout the chain from cocoa to chocolate, are issues that seem very relevant to this World Cocoa Conference, as they respond to many of the Sustainable Development Goals that all countries have signed up to within the framework of the United Nations," she said. 

Queen Mathilde advocates the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are designed to promote sustainable economic, social and environmental development around the world. In March, she travelled to Côte d'Ivoire, the world's largest cocoa producer, where she visited a cooperative cocoa plantation in Méagui, in the southwest of the country.

Moral argument

"My recent visit to Côte d'Ivoire has given me a better understanding of the issues surrounding cocoa production," she said. "Price and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. 

"I have not forgotten the messages I received in Côte d'Ivoire from the actors in the chain: that cocoa must become sustainable, which includes decent work and remuneration for producers, children able to go to school and protected forests."

There are many economic, social and legal arguments for increasing the prices paid to cocoa farmers, she said. "But perhaps the strongest argument is of a moral nature. For how can we allow such an unfair distribution of value throughout the chain from cocoa to chocolate?" ​ 

Unprecedented high cocoa price

"Justice demands an increase in the price paid to cocoa producers. We must close the gap between producers' real income and the reasonable income they can legitimately aspire to in order to meet their basic needs," she said.

Finally, she focused on the role of women in the sector. "I see many areas where their role and skills could be better recognised and valued, be it in cocoa production itself, be it in post-harvest processing, be it in sales. In this regard, women's cooperatives can play an important role in promoting their autonomy, emancipation and just aspirations," she said.

On the New York futures market, cocoa prices rose more than 6 per cent on Friday to a new record of 11,722 dollars a tonne. The price has been rising for months and has doubled in 2024 alone. But despite the unprecedented high price, farmers are burdened by poverty and deforestation on plantations. 


Queen Mathilde of Belgium visits a cocoa plantation in Meagui, Côte d'Ivoire, in March 2024 © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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