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The Search for Value and Meaning in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Costa Rica
North Carolina State University, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, Box 8008, Raleigh, NC 27695-8008, USA
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, P.O. Box 12254, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 May 2012; in revised form: 27 June 2012 / Accepted: 3 July 2012 / Published: 10 July 2012
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
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Cite This Article
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.
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.
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.