Chocolate Nations

Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa

Órla Ryan


Exposes the true story of how the treat we love makes it on to our supermarket shelves.
Chocolate - the very word conjures up a hint of the forbidden and a taste of the decadent. Yet the story behind the chocolate bar is rarely one of luxury.  From the thousands of children who work on plantations to the smallholders who harvest the beans, Chocolate Nations reveals the hard economic realities of our favourite sweet.

This vivid and gripping exploration of the reasons behind farmer poverty includes the human stories of the producers and traders at the heart of the West African industry. Orla Ryan shows that only a tiny fraction of the cash we pay for a chocolate bar actually makes it back to the farmers, and sheds light on what Fair Trade really means on the ground.

Provocative and eye-opening, Chocolate Nations exposes the true story of how the treat we love makes it on to our supermarket shelves.

Author Bio

Orla Ryan works for the Financial Times in London. She lived in Africa for more than four years, first in Uganda, and then in Ghana, where she worked for Reuters.

Table of Contents

  • Prologue
  • 1. Ghana is Cocoa
  • 2. Cocoa Wars
  • 3. Child Labour
  • 4. Follow the Money
  • 5. From Bean to Bar
  • 6. Fairtrade Myths and Reality
  • 7. Trading Games
  • 8. Building a Sustainable Future
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Index


'A captivating read, painting a lively picture of the West African cocoa trade from a variety of perspectives.'
Daniel Balint Kurti, Global Witness

'I gave up eating chocolate years ago after seeing at first hand the exploitation that surrounds its production in Africa. It was about time a book like this was written.'
Stephen Chan OBE, author of The End of Certainty

'A fascinating account of the struggles of cocoa producers in West Africa, almost all of them smallholders, and what it takes to turn a crop of cocoa into a warehouse full of Ferrero Rocher.'
The Guardian

'Paints a disturbing and subtle picture of an industry few chocolate consumers think about.'
Sydney Morning Herald

'Arresting and provocative. The author’s interviews with labourers movingly illuminate the struggles that lie behind an icon of western indulgence.'
Financial Times

'Presents the tragic and shocking detail behind the world's favourite confectionery.'
New Agriculturist

'A courageous and thoughtful account of a murky industry.'
Times Literary Supplement


Publication Date: 12 April 2012
192 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780323091
Hardback: 9781848130043
eBook ePub: 9781780320793
eBook PDF: 9781848135406
eBook Kindle: 9781780325828

Previous Editions: Paperback 0th Edition: 9781848130050

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