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Fair trade Statement Human Pace and Devina Pralines

(Strategic business partner Devina Pralines NV)




Fair trade is probably a concept everybody would like to embrace when talking of his own product. We are embarrassed when we hear that child labour, bad working conditions or unreasonably long working days are the foundation of our range of products we seem to be so proud of. We tend to shut our eyes and turn a deaf ear to mishaps somewhere in our product chain. It is not our first line responsibility and different cultures, long distances, strange languages and unknown currency, conveniently conceal a truth staring you in the face. We do not appreciate of it, we actually abhor it but it is beyond our scope and beyond our control. 

Fair trade should be the standard and non-fair trade the exception to be dealt with and eradicated. Yet we live in a different world. A world full of contradictions and opposing targets. Specialists have a thorough understanding of what they do but most of the time they do not have a clue of what others contribute to their ideas, concepts or half products. It is all pigeon hole thinking and narrowly framed added value that will in the end result in a consumer good, and even the word good seems to be a presupposition that will not always fall into place. 

To be honest though fair trade is not easy to arrive at. Fair trade deals with our own actions but also with the point of view, the business decisions and the profit of our colleague participants in our product chain. Only when all the parties involved agree in working together fair trade can be achieved. The West European organisation that is faced with suppliers that do not see any future benefits in doing business on a fair trade level, can be very sincere and well-intended but will end up with a product not labelled ‘fair trade.’ 



Devina a well-known producer of chocolate products in Belgium and the Netherlands, with more than 45 years of experience, and with all of their products handmade, has expressed the wish to present the end customer with a fair trade product line. Having the cacao bean from the root countries Ghana and Ivory Coast as the most important basic material of the Devina praline it is not easy to pursue a fair trade goal. Ghana and Ivory coast have different cultures, are most of the time out of our sight and we do not known what happens on the cacao plantations. A weak spot when Devina has stated that fair trade is one of her most valued product qualities. Fair trade is meddlesome in the sense that the whole of the product chain, from the very source to the end customer, is under scrutiny. 

The cacao farmer should not allow children to work for him. Long hours a day must be evaluated, workers should have a decent income and decent housing. The farmer himself should have enough earnings to grow and allow others to enjoy better working conditions. Even when the farmer doesn’t agree right away we should explain to him that it is not good to exploit the employees. Better housing and nutrition will result in healthier employees, motivated employees, more turnover and more profit. 

Fair trade should cover all links of the product chain. It is not enough when the chocolatier takes care of his own people and allows decent wages and working conditions. He has to verify the origin of all his basic and non-basic material. Where does it come from and how is the business handled at the supplier’s place. Full traceability even goes one step further and wants to verify the supplier of the supplier and the material used by all the parties. Good intentions are appreciated but will mean nothing in dealing with fair trade labelling. Whenever we cannot prove it on paper it is not there. 

To register is to master the link, be it a supplier or a supplier’s supplier. 

Together with her faithful supplier Barry Callebaut Devina has taken up the responsibility to produce fair trade pralines. At the moment more than 15 different tastes have been labelled ‘fair trade.’ It is from a genuine believe that fair trade will in the end enable all contributors of the chocolate chain to earn a good living. The customer will, however, be the judge or the saviour. She/he will speak and decide which product is to be favoured; the one which is slightly cheaper but incorporates the ancient idea of child labour, or the ‘fair trade’ product because our world is a mirror of what we do and who we are.  

But as stated at the beginning nobody wants to produce a product that wilfully embraces and maintains child labour, disproportionable work pressure and extremely long working days. Unhealthy workers, epidemics because of poor health, economic pressure thwarting all school aspirations and keeping the employees at an analphabetic and uneducated level of existence. Fair trade is something to be proud of because it portrays that all links in the production chain agree on working together to adhieve an acceptable standard of living. 



Doing business with heart in mind