Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1466-1487; doi:10.3390/su4071466

The Search for Value and Meaning in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Costa Rica

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Received: 5 May 2012; in revised form: 27 June 2012 / Accepted: 3 July 2012 / Published: 10 July 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Branding and Marketing)
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Abstract: Qualitative interviews with participants in the cocoa (Theobroma cacao) supply chain in Costa Rica and the United States were conducted and supplemented with an analysis of the marketing literature to examine the prospects of organic and Fairtrade certification for enhancing environmentally and socially responsible trade of cocoa from Costa Rica. Respondents were familiar with both systems, and most had traded at least organic cocoa for some period. However, most individuals said that they were seeking better product differentiation and marketing than has been achieved under the organic and Fairtrade systems. Many suggested that more direct recognition of individual growers and the unique value of their cocoa throughout the production chain would be more helpful than certification for small companies in the cocoa supply chain. These findings suggest new marketing techniques that convey an integration of meaning into the cocoa and chocolate supply chain as a differentiation strategy. This involves integration of the story of producers’ commitment and dedication; shared producer and consumer values of social and environmental responsibility; and personal relationships between producers and consumers. This marketing approach could enhance the ability of smaller companies to successfully vie with their larger competitors and to produce cocoa in a more environmentally and socially acceptable manner.
Keywords: cocoa; supply chain; certification; trade; marketing; integration of meaning; Costa Rica
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Haynes, J.; Cubbage, F.; Mercer, E.; Sills, E. The Search for Value and Meaning in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Costa Rica. Sustainability 2012, 4, 1466-1487.

AMA Style

Haynes J, Cubbage F, Mercer E, Sills E. The Search for Value and Meaning in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Costa Rica. Sustainability. 2012; 4(7):1466-1487.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Haynes, Jessica; Cubbage, Frederick; Mercer, Evan; Sills, Erin. 2012. "The Search for Value and Meaning in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Costa Rica." Sustainability 4, no. 7: 1466-1487.

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