After months of pressure, specialty chocolate company, Ghirardelli, sat down with us to talk about the cocoa supply sourcing that the company does in West Africa vs Fair Trade. We met with Steve Genzoli, Vice President of Quality Assurance/Research & Development and Dr. Piera Waibel, Sustainability Manager at Lindt & Sprüngli (the Swiss parent company of Ghirardelli) at the factory plant in San Leandro, CA.

We discussed much of the content of the series of letters that Ghirardelli and Global Exchange have exchanged (read them here) and asked lots of questions about Ghirardelli’s resistance to Fair Trade certification. Mr. Genzoli explained that Ghirardelli is proud of their ‘bean to bar’ control of the supply chain and treatment of farmers in Africa to workers in San Leandro, CA. We learned about the farming program that Ms Waibel leads in communities in Ghana where Ghirardelli sources, and plans to expand the projects by 2020.

The farming program is well considered and not without impact, but what we fundamentally disagree on is  Ghirardelli’s insistence that Fair Trade is not a useful certification to ensure fairness on the cocoa farms. Specifically two points.

Firstly, Ghirardelli claims that the conditions on the farms and the programs administered are ‘better than certification’. However the program lacks one of the very tenets of Fair Trade – independent monitoring by a certifying body that measures against universal standards. Instead, Ghirardelli is creating dependency from farmers and communities in ‘their’ system – meaning Ghirardelli farmers only grow for Ghirardelli, and are, therefore, dependent and vulnerable to the needs and whims of the company. Farmers in the Fair Trade system have much more freedom, are guaranteed a set price for their yield and sell beans to a larger pool of buyers, instead of being beholden to one company.

Secondly, the aim of Ghirardelli’s farming program is to increase the productivity yield of ‘their’ farmers. While higher yield will also increase income to farmers, the Fair Trade system’s ‘social premium’ puts decision making in the hands of the community in regards to use of money for collective, community projects. There are no predetermined ‘development’ projects – community choice and autonomous decision making is another tenet of the Fair Trade system.Ghirardelli_BWeagle

And a final piece of information Ghirardelli shared with us … They don’t think consumers, advocates, activists – you and I – take Fair Trade certification seriously!

After more than 10,000 messages asking Ghirardelli to go Fair Trade, hundreds of emails with details about Fair Trade certification and comments to the company like this one from Letitia H:

… I love Ghiradelli, but I stopped buying any chocolate that was not fair trade several years ago, because it is pretty much guaranteed to be produced by slave labor. Ever since then, despite missing one of my favorite brands, I have not had any Ghiradelli. Were the company to commit to fair trade, I would be HAPPY to start buying their products again!

… Ghirardelli thinks we don’t understand the importance of putting a Fair Trade label on it?

This meeting was just a step in the campaign, we will keep on trying. We were successful with Hershey’s and believe that with consistent pressure, and your help, we can get Ghirardelli to put a Fair Trade label on it!


Visit the Ghirardelli Action Center. Here you can send email, post to Facebook, Twitter, share with your friends and donate to make sure that this campaign continues until Ghirardelli puts a Fair Trade label on it!

The following blog post is written by Global Exchange summer intern, Sophie Ipsen about her summer project researching corporate criminals for our Top Ten Most Wanted Corporate Criminals of 2014 list. Thank you, Sophie for all your help and hard work all summer!


I’m Sophie Ipsen, a 20-year-old college student studying international relations and global business at the University of Southern California.

Growing up, I started volunteering in my community: tutoring low-income students, serving food to recovering drug-addicts, and assisting people with disabilities. These experiences first opened my eyes to the injustices and inequalities in my own backyard. Now, as a young adult and an American consumer, I have become cognizant of the global challenges created by the corporate domination all around the world.

Large corporations control almost everything we touch: from the clothing we wear, to the computers we work on, to the medications we take, and even the food we eat. I was aware of sweatshops, human trafficking, and forced labor prior to my time at Global Exchange, but I had not fully considered all the implications of today’s corporation giants. Over the past several weeks, I have been investigating corporations that are guilty of human rights abuses and environmental disasters for Global Exchange’s Top Ten Most Wanted Corporate Criminal List of 2014.

It was through this process that I realized these large corporations are not only forcing cheap or wage-free labor, but also seizing indigenous lands, destroying communities, causing species extinction, and killing people in devastating factory disasters, just to name a few offenses. Of course I had heard stories on the news about horrific disasters like the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, but I, as do many others, had not truly understood how this connects to my daily life and my decisions. The fact is the companies that are exploiting human rights and the environment everyday are the same companies from which we consume everyday.

But this does not have to be the case, we are the consumers and fortunately we have the ability to decide what we purchase. There is a tremendous opportunity available for us, the consumers, to take a stand, boycott corporations violating human rights, and support institutions like Fair Trade.

This summer, the other interns and I embarked on a project to continue Global Exchange’s campaign pressuring San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Chocolate Company to go Fair Trade. We worked together to plan a virtual, online rally as well as an in-person rally at the San Francisco flagship store in Ghirardelli Square on July 24th. While preparing for our big day, we visited Fair Trade USA’s offices in Oakland and got an in-depth look at Fair Trade and how the certification process works. I learned that Fair Trade certified cocoa farms ensure that no child labor is used, farmers earn a fair, living wage, and a premium goes back to the community.


Global Exchange interns at Ghirardelli rally

After doing our research and preparing our rally materials, we took to the streets and started talking to our fellow consumers. Many people were very interested in learning about Fair Trade and joined in to tell Ghirardelli to make the important switch. This experience, speaking with Ghirardelli’s consumers started to spread the word about the importance of purchasing power, and showed me that the general public really can make a difference. Corporations really do listen to their consumers, and it takes our voices to make our desires known. As consumers we can endorse Fair Trade through our purchases of commodities like chocolate, coffee, bananas, sugar, and even some jewelry and clothing.

As my research continued, we finalized the corporations for this year’s Corporate Criminals list, and I then connected with other non-profit organizations challenging these corporations. I learned that large corporations really care about their public image, and do not like to be publicly shamed. When people start to speak up and spread the word about a corporation’s abuses, the corporation has to start taking action. The more the people know about a corporation’s abuses, it is less able to continue these abuses in the public eye.

So which corporations made the list? There are 10 companies form a wide variety of industries. And the corporations are… Alpha Natural Resources, Bayer, Carnival Corporation, FIFA, Gap Inc., Ghirardelli, Glencore Xstrata, HSBC, Koch Industries, and PepsiCo. This year we also decided to include Monsanto as a “repeat offender,” as it has been featured on our list before. Now that you know the corporations, you may have expected a few, and are probably surprised by a few as well. I strongly encourage you to read the list, and discover the unfortunate truth about these corporations!

I hope that after reading through the list, you will reconsider these corporations and take action through what you purchase. Additionally, we have added a new element to the list this year, an opportunity for you to easily take action from home. Each featured corporation includes a link to take action by either emailing an executive or signing a petition. I encourage you to do so and to also connect with other organizations working on the issues.

Take-ActionThis is an opportunity for you to start conversation about human rights and environmental abuses in your own networks. Share the information with your family, friends, and co-workers. You can start by making small changes in your everyday life that will grow and become large positive changes for our world. It’s time to fight back against corporate power and give the rights back to the people. Use the list as an educational opportunity, and then take a stand to put people over profits!

Ghirardelli_FTlabel450pxThis year, we’ve emailed Ghirardelli’s headquarters over 700 times and more than 10,000 people have joined the call to ensure that the premium chocolate sold is made using certified Fair Trade cocoa.

Ghirardelli Chocolate claims to make premium chocolate by carefully selecting cocoa beans of the highest quality, but real quality should not come at the cost of environmental destruction, poverty, and bitter child labor. We are demanding the company label its chocolate as certified Fair Trade

Earlier this month we were set to meet with Ghirardelli’s leadership, however they postponed the meeting a second time. And now it’s time we take to the streets!

Join us on Thursday, July 24 to tell Ghirardelli to go Fair Trade.

We think this issue is too important to be postponed. We want Ghirardelli to start listening NOW!

On Thursday, July 24th, we are calling on the Fair Trade community to come together to speak up for cocoa farmers and urge Ghirardelli to Put a Fair Trade Label On It.

Join us for a rally at Ghirardelli’s flagship store during the height of tourist season. We’ll be collecting signatures to our petition and educating passersby about Ghirardelli’s practice and the benefits of Fair Trade to producers around the globe.

Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf
Thursday, July 24, 2014
12pm – 2pm

See you at Ghirardelli Square

Can’t make it? Sign up to take part in our virtual rally on July 24th.


Earlier this year, we witnessed the influence our collective power has over corporations when Hershey’s finally made the commitment to have 100% ethically sourced cocoa by 2020. At the start of this year, the company announced that 18% of all the cocoa the company sourced globally in 2013 was certified, nearly double the company’s original 2013 goal of 10 percent.

While progress has been made with a big chocolate company, we continue to keep up the pressure by demanding other companies follow suit, and this time we we are focusing our energy on another cocoa offender: Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is the second oldest chocolate company in the United States and has a longstanding presence in San Francisco, California — where Global Exchange is based. Ghirardelli claims to make premium chocolate by carefully selecting cocoa beans of the highest quality, but real quality should not come at the cost of environmental destruction, poverty, and bitter child labor.

Since we launched our campaign late last year urging the company to label its chocolate as certified Fair Trade, over 700 letters have reached the desks of Ghirardelli and over 10,000 of you have raised your voices asking for a Fair Trade label.

All these efforts have prompted responses from the chocolate company, and executives from Ghirardelli have even agreed to meet with us next week for a sit down meeting. (Ghirardelli response #1, Global Exchange response, Ghirardelli response #2)

Ghirardelli is clearly hearing your call, so we are asking you to add a personal message to share with the executives.

They have made it clear that they have no intention of converting to Fair Trade, which only fuels our enthusiasm for this campaign.

Despite this response, we will keep on trying. We were successful with Hershey’s and believe that with consistent pressure, and your help, we can get Ghirardelli to put a Fair Trade label on it!


Post written with the assistance of Global Exchange summer Fair Trade intern, Nadia Garcia.

Justice-Gingerbread-houseHappy wintertime (just about),

In this Fair Trade Roundup, you’ll learn about actions you can take to encourage chocolate companies to go Fair Trade. Don’t forget the “News to Peruse” section towards the bottom to get caught up on the latest Fair Trade news from around the globe.

Happy New Year to you!

Roundup Sections:

  1. Featured Fair Trade Update: Green America Challenges Godiva to go Fair Trade
  2. Global Exchange Update: 2013 Highlights & What’s Next for 2014
  3. Fair Trade News to Peruse

Cocoa beans Photo Credit: Green America

Cocoa beans Photo Credit: Green America

1) FEATURED FAIR TRADE UPDATE: Green America to Godiva: Protect cocoa workers and West African children by going Fair Trade
Green America is urging folks to sign a letter telling Godiva to go Fair Trade. Here’s more about this from Green America’s website:

One thing that hasn’t changed in recent years is Godiva’s failure to protect vulnerable workers at the beginning of its supply chain.  While other high-end chocolate companies use third-party certification to ensure that their products aren’t tainted with child slave labor and the exploitation of cocoa-producing communities, Godiva does not.  

The company insists that it requires its suppliers “to be in compliance with labor laws,” and donates some of its growing profits to organizations providing charitable work in cocoa-producing nations, but these efforts are no substitute for actually building a fair supply chain.  For this reason, we are urging Godiva to go Fair Trade.  No West African child should be forced to endure grueling cocoa-field labor for low or no pay so that American children can enjoy Godiva-coated Oreos.

What YOU can do:
Please sign Green America’s letter to Godiva telling them to go Fair Trade.

Color-in postcard to send to Ghirardelli's

Color-in postcard to send to Ghirardelli’s

2) GLOBAL EXCHANGE FAIR TRADE UPDATE: 2013 Highlights & What’s Next for 2014

In 1988, four friends co-founded Global Exchange to fight a worldview based on greed, domination, and unvarnished worship of power. We envisioned building a robust U.S. movement capable of creating change from the grassroots, powered by people-to-people ties. This year we celebrated our 25th anniversary, and we are proud to honor the dedication of people like you who have sweated and sacrificed to forge a working alternative from the ground up.

Your continued pressure on Hershey’s after it announced it would buy 100% certified sustainable cocoa by 2020 last fall, paid off, when it announced a third of its supply would be Fair Trade certified.

And you took that energy and continued to advocate for Fair Trade through October – Fair Trade month – taking action daily from our Fair Trade Your Halloween calendar. Then you also wrote to both World’s Finest Chocolate and Ghirardelli to urge both companies to go Fair Trade certified, and trust us, your voice is being heard.

Here’s what YOU can do next:

  1. To keep the pressure on Ghirardelli, download this color-in postcard to send to Ghirardelli’s CEO, Marty Thompson demanding the company let us know where its cocoa comes from and to make it Fair Trade.
  2. We’re proud of what we’ve done together. But to achieve the visions we set out all those years ago, we’re going to need your continued support. Please consider donating to Global Exchange so we can continue working to make trade fair.



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News to share? If you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email Tex Dworkin.

Enjoy this Fair Trade Roundup? Then click the Like and Tweet buttons on the top right of this post to share with others. Thanks!!


Peace Action Kit

Allow me to introduce you to the brand new, limited addition Global Exchange Peace On Earth Action Kits!

Exactly what you need to Fair Trade your holidays this season, each kit includes a combination of goodies  to help educate and take action.

Similar to our Halloween Action Kits which sold out in less than a week, Peace On Earth Action Kits will be available on a first-come first-served basis, so please order yours asap to make sure you don’t miss out.

Color-in postcard to send to Ghirardelli's

Color-in postcard to send to Ghirardelli’s

Each Peace on Earth Action Kit includes:

  • 4Not So Sweet Facts About Chocolate” postcards
  • 4 Ghirardelli color-in action postcards
  • 1 Booklet filled with Fair Trade holiday carols
  • 1 Set of 6 Peace on Earth greeting cards (featuring designs from our What About Peace youth art contest)
  • 1 Bundle of Divine Fair Trade milk chocolate coins
  • 1 Fair Trade peace crane ornament
  • 1 DVD copy of The Dark Side of Chocolate

Everything in the kit comes  packaged together in a recycled newspaper gift bag. Kits are $18.00 which includes shipping. One kit per household since there is a limited number of kits available..

The kits are on sale now through December 16 (or until we run out) so order yours today and proudly spread the Fair Trade cheer this holiday season!