Blood and Chocolate

Title Blood and   Chocolate
Director(s) Evan Williams,   James Brabazon
Date released (year) 2007
Production company Channel 4
Length 24 mins
Location Ivory Coast
Keywords/tags Labour abuses,   agriculture, commodities, civil war, international trade
Link to film,


Synopsis Blood diamonds   may get all the media attention, but as this Unreported World highlights,   there’s a far cheaper commodity bought by millions of Britons every week,   which is fuelling a violent conflict in West Africa: chocolate. Hundreds of   men, women and children have been killed, villages razed to the ground and   thousands forced to move into slum refugee camps. And all because the world   loves chocolate.After four   years of civil war between ethnic groups in the south and north of the Ivory   Coast, which killed more than 2,000 people, there’s supposed to be a   UN-sponsored ceasefire. But reporter Evan Williams and producer James   Brabazon need armed guards as they begin their journey driving through the   west of the country up to the front line. All along the roadside are villages   that have been burned down.

The team   walks into the village of Sada, where every house has been destroyed. The   local militia chief tells them that 200 people used to live here. He claims   that they fled when they were attacked by raiders – northerners from a   neighbouring village.

It’s   immediately clear that the raid was all about control of the village’s cocoa   crop. Ivory Coast provides around 43% of the world’s cocoa, and it provides   more than a third of the country’s entire foreign exchange. Cocoa growers can   make between £500 £1000 a year – an extraordinary amount of money for this   part of the world.

The team   drives on to another village, Zéaglo, just in time to witness a show of   strength by the main southern militia. Their leader, Mao Glofiei , claims to   have ten thousand men under arms. According to the ceasefire his men should   have disarmed. But Unreported World films Mao Glofei distributing a cache of   automatic weapons, while his men sing that ‘the rebels are bad, their mothers   are bad, their fathers are bad, their children are bad and we’ve got to kill   them.’

Driving   down the most dangerous road in the country and deeper into the disputed   areas, the team arrives in the village of Duezone. Villagers say five   thousand people used to live here, but only a handful have dared to return.   One resident, Ferdinand, tells them that attackers burst into his house at   dawn, slashing his father with a machete and killing his brother. He says it   was all about who controlled the cocoa-growing land.

Williams   and Brabazon drive on to a village populated by the so-called northern   immigrants. One of them tells the team that when they originally came to the   area, they were welcomed by the local indigenous people, but as soon as they   started profiting from the land by growing cocoa the locals started demanding   it back. For this reason, he has to fight to protect himself and keep his   land.

A new peace   deal between the two sides is meant to lead to an election later this year.   Under the deal UN forces are already planning to withdraw. But as Unreported   World films combatants on both sides rearming and retraining, localised   attacks over land and cocoa threaten to spiral yet again into a full-blown   confrontation.


Reviews/discussion Producer James Brabazon is no stranger to risky   assignments. But even he, alongside reporter Evan Williams, needed armed   guards to make Blood and Chocolate in ethnically explosive Ivory Coast. The   guards in question are “native” (their description) southern Ivorians and   it’s not possible to travel to the west of the country without them. Despite   the 2003 UN-sponsored peace deal that followed four years of civil war, the   southerners refuse to disarm, claiming that “immigrant” foreigners from the   north pose a constant threat to the south’s land and cocoa. Yes, cocoa – 40   per cent of the world’s cocoa plants are found in this region. Blood diamonds   get the publicity, but the raw ingredient for the millions of chocolate bars   consumed every week is fuelling a conflict increasingly at odds with the   notion of a ceasefire. PWD Source:

Unreported World is a foreign   affairs programme produced by Quicksilver Media Productions and broadcast   by Channel   4 in the United Kingdom. Over the course of its twenty-four series,   reporters have travelled to dangerous locations all over the world in an   attempt to uncover stories usually ignored by the world media.   The first episode of series 24 was broadcast on 2 November, 2012. Source:

(see this link for full list of Unreported World   episodes)

Links to other resources Canadian divisions of chocolate makers face price-fixing accusations, November 28, 2007: trader buys all Europe’s cocoa, by Jonathan Sibun and Harry Wallop, July 17,   2010

The purchase was enough to move the entire global cocoa market, sending the   price to the highest level since 1977, and triggering rumours and intrigue in   the City.

It is unclear which person, or group of traders, was behind the deal, but it   was the largest single cocoa trade for 14 years.

The cocoa beans, which are sitting in warehouses either in The Netherlands,   Hamburg, or closer to home in London, Liverpool or Humberside is equivalent   to the entire supply of the commodity in Europe, and would fill more than   five Titanics. They are worth £658 million.

Analysts said it was very unlikely that a chocolate company, such as Nestle   or Kraft, or even their suppliers, would buy such a huge order in one go and   that is was probable that one or a number of speculators, possibly hedge   funds, had attempted to corner the market. By doing this, they would have   control of the entire supply in Europe, forcing the price yet higher.

Eugen Weinberg, an analyst with Commerzbank, said: “For one buyer it would   likely be a little bit too large. It would be a crazy number. That said, if   you’re cornering the market …”

“If it looks like cornering, feels like cornering and the price difference   between Europe and the US is so large, it probably is cornering.”

“There is some play taking place. No one really knows what is going on.”

Andreas Christiansen, president of the German Cocoa Trade Association, said   the “hefty” price move was “a mirror of what can be done if people control   the physical stock”.

Cocoa prices, which had been on the rise this year, rose 0.7 per cent   yesterday, to £2,732 per metric ton. By contrast, cocoa being traded on the   US exchange fell.

This is the highest price for cocoa in Europe since 1977, and comes after a   series of weak harvests in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, the main areas where   the crop is grown. Fears of floods in the Ivory Coast have sent prices even   higher, as speculators have bet on another poor harvest, and a shortage of   supply.

At the same time demand is on the increase, especially as China and India   develop an ever sweeter tooth.

Cocoa prices have more than doubled since 2007, forcing chocolate makers to   raise prices and in some cases to change recipes to use less cocoa.

Laurent Pipitone, senior statistician at the International Cocoa Organisation   in London, said: “In the past two years, all companies have increased   prices.”

There are fears that the extraordinary activity on the commodity markets will   filter down to higher prices on the shop shelves for the nation’s favourite   chocolate bars, even milk chocolate, which has only 25 per cent cocoa   content.

The trade took place on the London International Financial Futures and   Options Exchange (Liffe), a market which trades contracts in commodities such   as corn, wheat, sugar, coffee and cocoa.

Most of these contracts are “options” or “futures” giving   a trader the right to buy these commodities at a certain price at a certain   time in the future. What made yesterday’s trade so unusual was that the   mystery buyer or buyers took physical delivery of the commodity.

The beans will be stored in one of Liffe’s warehouses in Amsterdam, Antwerp,   Bremen, Felixstowe, Hamburg, Humberside, Le Havre, Liverpool, London,   Rotterdam, or Teesside.

There have been mounting worries that speculators have been distorting the   cocoa market in recent weeks, with brokers writing a letter of protest to   Liffe earlier this month.

Barbara Crowther, a spokesman at the Fairtrade Foundation, said that no   farmers in West Africa would benefit from the higher prices. She said:   “This speculation only serves to increase volatility and uncertainty.   Part of the problems in rent years have been the lack of investment in   improving cocoa farms. But the farmers have already been paid a set price –   none of this money will filter down to them.”

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