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Only 1% of Cocoa from Poor Countries

Even though sugar, coffee and cocoa are grown in developing countries, Norway imports these products from Europe. While developing countries produce the raw materials, a large share of the profits remains in Europe.
A family picking coffee on São Tomé. Photo: Sigurd Jorde
A family picking coffee on São Tomé. Photo: Sigurd Jorde
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Even though sugar, coffee and cocoa are grown in developing countries, Norway imports these products from Europe. While developing countries produce the raw materials, a large share of the profits remains in Europe.

The largest producers of raw materials such as sugar, cocoa and coffee are located in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But Norway imports only 0.28% of its sugar from poor countries.   The rest we import from Denmark and Great Britain and other European countries that cultivate sugar beets. Cocoa and coffee are only cultivated in Asia, Africa and Latin America, but Norway imports all cocoa and much of its coffee from other European countries.

The Future in Our Hands has analysed the value of import for the most important raw materials sugar, cocoa and coffee. The figures show an interesting pattern in the import of poor countries’ raw materials:

  • Only 0.28% of the sugar imported to Norway, measured in value, comes from countries outside Europe.
  • Only 1.1% of the cocoa imported to Norway comes from Africa, Asia and Latin America, where cocoa is cultivated.
  • Of the total coffee import to Norway, only 76% comes from coffee-producing countries like Brazil and Colombia, whereas 24% comes from European countries that do not cultivate coffee.
  • The coffee import from Brazil, Colombia and other coffee producers consists mainly of unprocessed coffee beans, which are roasted and prepared in Norway. Of the processed (roasted) coffee, only 9.8% comes from Africa, Asia and Latin America; the rest comes from Europe and other developed countries.
The three agricultural products sugar, cocoa and coffee show in different ways how raw materials that are originally tropical products are imported and further processed in Europe. The value increase that occurs in the processing from raw materials to finished product takes place in Europe and accrues to other European countries. This is especially the case with regard to cocoa but also coffee.

Sugar: Sweet and European

Norway imports 99.7% of all its sugar from the EU, mainly from Denmark and Great Britain. Whereas sugar was historically produced from sugar cane on large plantations in the Caribbean, the EU’s import tariffs and the subsidising of European farmers have created an enormous sugar production in Europe, based on sugar beets. The sugar production in the EU has been criticised for several years because it has been dumped at low prices in developing countries1, because it is subsidised and because the subsidies have led to corruption.

Coffee: Cultivated in Brazil – Roasted in Europe

The value of coffee imported to Norway was a total of 1.6 billion kroners (266 million US dollars) in 2011. Of this, 1.2 billion kroners (200 mill dollars) was for import of coffee directly from coffee-producing countries. Nevertheless, coffee was imported from Europe to the tune of 384 million kroners, which constitutes 24% of the total value. Of the 12 largest coffee exporters to Norway, half were from Europe. The two largest exporters are Brazil and Colombia, followed by Switzerland as third and Sweden as fifth.

The import from coffee-producing countries such as Brazil and Colombia consisted almost exclusively of unroasted coffee beans. This coffee is roasted and packaged in Norway. The import value of unroasted coffee was 1.17 billion kroners in 2011. At the same time a considerable amount of roasted coffee valued at more than 400 million kroners was imported. The import of roasted and prepared coffee is dominated by European countries, with Switzerland and Sweden leading. Only 9.8% of the roasted coffee comes from Brazil Colombia and other coffee-producing countries.

Cocoa: From African Cocoa Beans to European Cocoa Butter

The cocoa tree originates in Central America. Today the most important cocoa producers in the world are Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia and some minor producers in Africa and Latin America. Norway imports little cocoa beans. On the other hand, prepared cocoa worth almost 257 million kroners was imported in 2011. Prepared cocoa is imported in the form of cocoa butter, cocoa mass and cocoa powder. Of this, almost 254 million kroners came from Europe, and only 2.9 million kroners from countries that cultivate cocoa. Only 1.1% of the prepared cocoa came from Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Malaysia and other cocoa producers.

The Chocolate Imbalance

Chocolate is in reality a cocoa product to which milk, sugar, nuts and other ingredients are added. But on the Norwegian market there is little connection between where the cocoa is cultivated and where the chocolate comes from. In 2011 chocolate worth 898 million kroners was imported to Norway. Of this, European dominance is complete, with small amounts bought from the USA and other Western countries. Only 368,155 kroners went to chocolate from developing countries, which constitutes 0.04% of Norway’s chocolate import. In other words, less than 0.04% of the chocolate comes from countries that actually produce cocoa – the main ingredient in chocolate.

In Norwegian chocolate it is, in other words, only the milk that is Norwegian. The cocoa is cultivated in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria or another tropical country but is processed into cocoa mass in The Netherlands, Belgium or France. The sugar in the chocolate is from Denmark or Great Britain. Whereas the raw materials stem from poor countries, the processing, packaging, marking and marketing are totally dominated by rich countries.

All figures refer to the value of goods imported into Norway in 2011. All figures derive from Statistics Norway unless otherwise indicated.

This is a translated article. The original text can be read here.