Global Market Report: Cocoa prices and sustainability

This report outlines the sustainable production and consumption trends of the cocoa sector, demonstrating how voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) can enhance farmers' livelihoods, promote trade, and provide price transparency across value chains.

Once used as a form of currency by the Mayans and Aztecs, cocoa is now a beloved staple in many households as the key ingredient of chocolate. The cocoa sector provides a livelihood for up to 50 million people, primarily in developing countries, as they transform cocoa beans into chocolate liquor, butter, or powder for use in cosmetics, chocolate, and other edibles.

Voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) emerged in the sector over 20 years ago, providing consumers with more sustainable cocoa purchasing options while addressing the sector’s challenges.

The cocoa market experienced record-breaking growth in global supply over the last decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic, political and economic unrest, low farm gate prices, and difficult agricultural conditions are expected to reduce supplies in the coming years. Climate change is also disrupting the global cocoa value chain as regions in major producing countries become less suitable due to high temperatures or severe droughts. For instance, West Africa saw a 5.5% drop in cocoa production from 2018 to 2019.

Our research dives into sustainable production and consumption trends in the cocoa sector, analyzing how VSSs can enhance farmers’ livelihoods by improving farm gate prices and incomes, supporting climate resilience, promoting better trade relations, and fostering price transparency across the value chain to fuel a more sustainable global cocoa sector.

Report details

Standards and Value Chains
State of Sustainability Initiatives
Focus area
IISD, 2022