18 November 2019

A living wage for West Afri­can cocoa farmers

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).

About REWE Group

The cooperatively organized REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2021, the company generated a total external turnover of 76.5 billion euros. Founded in 1927, REWE Group operates with around 380,000 employees in 21 European countries.

The sales lines include REWE, REWE CENTER and BILLA as well as BILLA PLUS and ADEG supermarkets and consumer stores, the discounter PENNY, IKI, the drugstores BIPA and the toom Baumarkt DIY stores. The company also operates convenience stores REWE To Go and the e-commerce activities REWE Lieferservice and Zooroyal. The Lekkerland Group comprises the wholesale activities of the business group in the area of on-the-go consumption.Travel and tourism under the umbrella of DER Touristik Group includes the tour operators DERTOUR, ITS, Meiers Weltreisen, Kuoni, Helvetic Tours, ITS Coop Travel, Billa Reisen, Koning Aap, Exim Tours and Fischer as well as more than 2,300 travel agencies (e.g. DERTOUR, DERPART, Kuoni, Exim, Fischer and cooperation partners), the hotel brands Sentido, Aldiana, Calimera, Cooee, and the online travel portal Prijsvrij Vakanties.

Kristina Schütz
Spokesperson REWE Group