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Harry Potter and the Fair Trade Chocolate

July 29, 2009

Harry Potter Chocolate Frogs

The title of this blog isn’t likely to become the title of a new post-addition to the Harry Potter series. However, what does the world’s most famous wizard this side of Merlin and chocolate have in common?

The Harry Potter name, along with books and movies, is branded on countless forms of merchandise including chocolate frogs, fudge flies, and cockroach clusters (treats also used in the stories). Chocolate used in these merchandise items most likely comes from Africa’s Ivory Coast, the epicenter of a large debate over fair trade chocolate. The company producing the chocolate for these Harry Potter items is part of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), an organization who’s mission statement includes “promotes a sustainable cocoa economy through economic and social development and environmental conservation in cocoa growing communities.” It sounds like a great organization, however other large brands associated with this foundation have pending lawsuits involving child labor laws.

So how can Harry Potter help improve Fair Trade practices in the chocolate industry?

Using its astronomically huge fan base, Harry Potter fans have formed a group called “The Harry Potter Alliance” that is using that fan base to promote social change. One change is the usage of Fair Trade chocolates within the merchandising efforts of the Harry Potter brand. The theory is that if enough voices are raised (and there are plenty of voices in the Harry Potter fandom) that real social change could be enacted.

A good example of a company involved in the fair trade of chocolate is Helping Hand Rewards partner Divine Chocolate. The mission of Divine Chocolate is to improve the livelihood of smallholder cocoa producers in West Africa by establishing their own  chocolate brand, putting farmers higher up the value chain. These cocoa farmers receive a Fair Trade price for their cocoa and use that money to be able to reinvest in their own communities. Divine Chocolate also seeks to raise awareness of Fair Trade issues to retailers and consumers of all types. 

Can Harry wave his wand and help increase Fair Trade practices even further? What do you think?

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