A chocolate-coated case for alternative international business models

Large companies have accelerated their control of the basic commodities markets in the last decade. The author describes what this means for smallholder farmers in the developing world who depend on these markets for some cash income each year. The consequences of the growing power of distributors (the grocery or supermarket chains) and dominant brand-owners are persistent rural poverty and the ideological and economic devaluation of the sustainable and small-scale agricultural production methods that are so essential to the 70 per cent of the worlds poor who live in rural areas. The author traces the story of a successful business partnership started in 1992 linking cocoa farmers in West Africa and fair-minded chocolate lovers in the UK and USA, an initiative launched in the face of direct criticism and harsh competitive pressure from the global chocolate giants but which has mobilised a new kind of coalition and constituency.