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18 November 2019

A living wage for West African cocoa farmers

Portrait of a cocoa farmer
  • The BMZ, the REWE Group, and Fairtrade provide bonuses and training
  • Joint project promotes self-sufficiency for families in Ghana

Working in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Fairtrade, the REWE Group is the first food retailer in Germany to launch a project in support of a living wage for the cocoa sector: From autumn 2020, REWE and PENNY will be offering a variety of Fairtrade chocolate bars with fully traceable supply chains. The bars will also be gradually introduced to the REWE Group’s international sales lines. The cocoa for this chocolate is being harvested by the Fanteakwa cooperative. In addition to the Fairtrade bonuses and minimum prices, the cocoa farmers are paid a “living income differential.” The aim of this joint project is to significantly boost the self-sufficiency of Fanteakwa farmers within the first few years and to enable them to earn a living wage from farming. Other West African small-scale farmers’ cooperatives are also involved in the project.

German Development Minister Dr Gerd Müller remarked, “The people in developing countries at the beginning of our supply chains have to be able to make a living from their work. We can't continue having cocoa farmers earning a pittance for their hard work and needing to send their children out into the fields just to survive. We need fair supply chains that provide a living wage. That is why I am thrilled that the REWE Group and Fairtrade are leading the way and ensuring a true living wage for family farmers. Fair supply chains like this should become the standard in all German supermarkets.”

According to Marcel Weber, REWE Group Managing Director of Private-Label Goods National and International, “As a founding member of the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, the REWE Group has been campaigning for certified cocoa production for years now. The REWE Group has been working with the Fairtrade cocoa program since 2014. Our joint project in Ghana is the logical next step for us to expand our commitment to fair trade, and a living wage is the backbone of our response to the far-reaching challenges in the cocoa sector.”

Dieter Overath, CEO of TransFair e.V. (Fairtrade Germany), said, “The challenges facing the cocoa sector are so great that we are happy to have a committed licence holder like the REWE Group working with us and the BMZ to take things a step further and actually implement a living wage.”

Inadequate pay is still one of the greatest problems for the cocoa sector. Simply paying a higher price for the cocoa is not enough to ensure a living wage for farmers and their families. The joint project by the REWE Group, Fairtrade, and BMZ is therefore taking a holistic approach in Ghana:

Along with payment of a living income differential, the project includes training sessions put on by the INA (Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains) and its local partners. This training focuses on more sustainable cultivation practices, ensuring that farms are run more efficiently, and improving management of the cooperatives. It also includes growing other crops, such as cashews, in order to create extra sources of income for the farmers. Against this backdrop the REWE Group joined the Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew), which works to increase competitiveness along the cashew value-added chain in selected African countries.

About the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA):

The INA is an association involving more than 70 actors from the private sector, civil society, and politics. It sees itself as an open platform and works across the various supply chains. Together, the actors aim to take holistic approaches to improve the living conditions of small-scale farmers and to add to the sustainability of agricultural supply chains around the world. An initiative of the BMZ, the INA focuses primarily on protecting natural resources and implementing a living wage. It is run by GIZ (German Society for International Collaboration).

For more about the REWE Group guidelines for cocoa products:

About TransFair e.V. (Fairtrade Germany):


TransFair e.V. was founded in 1992 to provide support for disadvantaged groups of producers in developing countries. As an independent organization, TransFair e.V. does not trade in goods itself; instead, it works to promote fairly traded products and raw materials and to raise awareness about sustainable consumption.

All the actors along the supply chain are monitored regularly by FLOCERT GmbH, which uses an independent and globally standardized certification system in accordance with the ISO 17065 (DIN EN 45011) accreditation standard.


About REWE Group

The cooperatively organised REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2018, the company generated a total external turnover of around 61 billion euros. Founded in 1927, the REWE Group has more than 360,000 employees in 22 European countries.

Sales lines include REWE, REWE CENTER, BILLA, MERKUR and ADEG supermarkets and consumer stores, the discounter PENNY, BIPA health and beauty store and the toom Baumarkt DIY stores. There are also convenience stores (REWE To Go) and e-commerce activities (the REWE delivery service, Zooroyal online pet food shop, Weinfreunde wine shop and Kölner Weinkeller wine merchant). Travel and tourism under the umbrella of DER Touristik Group includes the tour operators ITS, Jahn Reisen, Dertour, Meier’s Weltreisen, ADAC Reisen, Kuoni, Helvetic Tours, Apollo and Exim Tours, and more than 2,400 travel agencies (including DER Reisebüro, DERPART and partners), the hotel chains ITI Hotels, Club Calimera, COOEE, PrimaSol and Playitas Resort, and the direct tour operator,