Alter Eco Bean To Bar Chocolate

Chocolate is a product whose production is too often ambiguous and somewhat unethical. It is never one’s intention to consume a product made through an unethical venue unless one is an especially evil and demented person whose goal is to exploit another for their own satisfaction. Sometimes, a delicious bite of chocolate comes with an unknown consequence. Ever since the public has become more aware of the exploitative process of child labor, slavery, and unfair pay that sometimes accompanies making chocolate, some companies have risen to the forefront of responsible chocolate by ensuring their process does not take advantage of anyone and by using the bean to bar tactic. Alter Eco is one of these companies who makes responsible bean to bar chocolate. They directly source 100 percent of their products from small scale farmers. They responsibly pay their farmers through the fair trade act and even provide their farmers with assistance that goes beyond fair trade pricing. They ensure their chocolate is quality by producing it in a controlled environment so it can be delivered to one’s door guilt free.

To understand why Alter Eco is such a responsible and rare company in the chocolate business, one must understand the meaning of bean to bar and why it is so important in today’s chocolate making climate. Bean to bar is a simple concept but seems to not be as prevalent as it should be in the chocolate industry. Bean to bar refers to a model of trade in which the company making the chocolate controls every aspect in the production of the chocolate itself.(1) This means that the company does not use middlemen when buying cacao, and controls where and how the chocolate is made up until the product is finished.(2) A common misconception with bean to bar is that it is conflated with the chocolate being artisan high quality chocolate. Many bean to bar chocolates are in fact high quality artisan chocolate still, including Alter Eco’s fine chocolates. A common misconception with bean to bar is that it is conflated with the chocolate being artisan high quality chocolate.(3)Many bean to bar chocolates are in fact high quality artisan chocolate still, including Alter Eco’s fine chocolates.

Some of Alter Eco’s bean to bar Products

Problems plaguing the chocolate industry are extremely worrisome for the international community.  Chocolate is too often not a victimless product, and child labor that breaks international law such as close to 1.8 million children who are subject to the worst forms of child labor on the Ivory Coast alone is used to produce the cacao that is consumed in chocolate bars.(4)The amount of child laborers being used is much higher than acceptable, although this problem is much more complicated than one might think. A lot of families depend on their children to help them with bringing in the cacao beans in farming season, but this also is not considered the worst form of child labor. (5)Slavery was the foundation of cacao production from its inception from the encomienda system up to the triangular trade system, and has not fully left the cacao production industry.(6) From the Cadbury case after slavery was abolished in West Africa where the Cadbury company continually bought cacao from known slave using farms to the forms of child slavery and slavery in the Ivory coast of Africa, slavery has plagued cacao production. (7)Too often farmers are forced to sell to middlemen for below the fair trade price which is a set price that has been adopted by some chocolate companies they have agreed to pay cacao farmers. (8) According to Green America’s chocolate scorecard, Mars, Nestle, and Hershey do not purchase sustainable cacao from farmers- sustainable meaning cacao is sold at a price at which the farmers can live off of- at a rate of 100%. In fact, Mars only purchases 50% certified cacao, Hershey checks in at around 70%, and Nestle at 42%.(9)This means that three of the top chocolate producers are not paying their cacao producers prices that they can even live off of.(10) This is an atrocity that Alter Eco is trying to address in their bean to bar process.

Alter Eco directly deals with their cacao farmers unlike many bigger corporations such as the Mars company who only used 50% certified cacao in 2017, and was given a C grade in the  Chocolate scorecard which grades companies on where they get their cacao from, how much of it is certified and sustainable for farmers, and the programs that company has in place to help improve the cacao farmers situations.(17)Alter Eco received an A grade on this.(18) Alter Eco values their relationships with their small farm farmers, and they make it possible for small-scale, farmer owned cooperatives to be able to invest their profits directly into improving the quality of life and the quality of products in their communities.(19)All of Alter Eco’s products are 100% fair trade certified, which means that all of their farmers are paid fairly for their cacao and other products being bought from them.(20) This price ensures sustainable production and living conditions for the farmers and their families, and comes with a premium to help support the growth of cooperatives in the community.(21)This is much different than other larger chocolate corporations. These larger corporations have more capital and influence, yet do not wield it as well as Alter Eco does. For example, many larger companies buy cheap cacao through middlemen rather than directly going to the source like Alter Eco.(22) This is unsustainable cacao and Green America does a good job of measuring just how much sustainable cacao larger corporations purchase- not a lot. This is irresponsible on the part of these larger companies because of the potential of good they could do for the farmers- who on average are three times their yearly income in debt- if they just tried to be more conscious of social issues surrounding cacao production and chocolate production as Alter Eco is.

This is why chocolate companies should buy fair trade chocolate

Not only does Alter Eco buy directly from small farmers at fair trade prices, but they provide assistance to their farmers past just a simple economic deal. Alter Eco supports programs that train members on the farms with programs ranging from agricultural workshops all the way to entrepreneurial workshops and education workshops for the children of the farmers. This is a long way from buying cacao from farms that employ children for little to no pay or even use child slavery.(23)They also provide medical exams for the farmers and their families, help to provide reforestation in the regions in which they buy chocolate, and even provide the farmers and their families with new stoves to combat the poorly ventilated stoves that a lot of cacao farmers typically have in their homes.(24)They also provide financial loans to their farmers if required which helps the farmers -who are often struggling financially- to be able to provide for their families in seasons that do not produce as much cacao as they might have hoped for.(25)Alter Eco clearly is socially responsible and has the people, not the payout on their mind as they go about buying their cacao beans straight from the source. This is why they received the high mark of an A from one of the most reputable social justice watchdogs in the food industry in Green America.

Once Alter Eco pays a Fair Trade price for their cacao that they buy directly from farmers that they have relationships with, they leave the beans to ferment for a week in a wooden crate.(26) This allows for the cacao’s pulp to liquify and for complex chemical changes in the bean itself to take place to enhance the flavor of the cacao.  Once this process is finished, the beans are laid out under the sun until their moisture content reaches approximately seven percent. This can take up to three weeks to complete. Once the beans are dried, they are shipped to Alter Eco’s chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland.(27) When the beans arrive to Switzerland, they are roasted for hours to which brings out the flavor of the bean, and then the roasted beans are broken down and their skins are taken off. (28) These broken down pieces of cacao are known as nibs.(29)The nibs then are put under a heavy stone and ground down.(30) This process brings out cocoa butter from the beans and leaves the remaining cocoa mass. (31)The cocoa butter and cocoa mass are then put into the conching process. This process consists of the cocoa products being slowly mixed into other ingredients while slowly being heated throughout the conching process.(32) This process takes multiple hours, and the longer the cacao and other ingredients are conched, the better and smoother the chocolate will be.(33)Once the conching process is done, the chocolate is molded and packaged to be sent out for chocolatiers to enjoy.

Bean to bar chocolate is often one of the most socially responsible ways to make chocolate, especially when Alter Eco does it. There are plenty of issues in the chocolate industry that can not be fixed all at once, but Alter Eco is doing everything they can to ensure that they are making a difference in an industry packed with powerful corporations who should be more socially responsible than they are. The chocolate industry is plagued with child labor and modern day slavery that dehumanizes people. Farmers are not paid as well Alter Eco buys straight from the farmers of their cacao at a sustainable price for the farmers 100% through fair trade, so the farmers can have an income that will support their family year round, even in down years. Not only do they pay sustainable prices, but they go the extra mile to ensure that the farmer’s families are healthy, ensure their equipment is safe, loan extra money if they need, and have outreach programs to advance the lives of the farmers’ families and improve the quality of their products. They go above and beyond for their farmers because Alter Eco believes in contributing more into the world than they get out of it. From purchasing the beans from farmers who they have a relationship with up until the cacao is sent to Switzerland to be made into fine chocolate, Alter Eco is the premier responsible chocolate making bean to bar company. They provide a blueprint for what larger companies ought to be doing and contribute to the community of chocolate by making the most responsible bean to bar chocolate in the world.

Footnotes

1: Yamada, Nicholas. “Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: What Does This Label Really Mean?” Perfect Daily Grind, 16 Nov. 2018, http://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/bean-bar-chocolate-label-really-mean/.

2:Yamada, Nicholas. “Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: What Does This Label Really Mean?” Perfect Daily Grind, 16 Nov. 2018, http://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/bean-bar-chocolate-label-really-mean/.

3:Yamada, Nicholas. “Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: What Does This Label Really Mean?” Perfect Daily Grind, 16 Nov. 2018, http://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/bean-bar-chocolate-label-really-mean/.

4:“Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Food Empowerment Project, foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate/.

5: Martin, Carla D. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Google Slides, Google, docs.google.com/presentation/d/1-tCZfTFSi7EuZqb1dxrJatPuv–33tERRDYM0y_PZBg/edit#slide=id.g8c500cbc9_2_55.

6: Martin, Carla D. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Google Slides, Google, docs.google.com/presentation/d/1-tCZfTFSi7EuZqb1dxrJatPuv–33tERRDYM0y_PZBg/edit#slide=id.g8c500cbc9_2_55.

7:“The ‘Chocolate Slaves’ of the Ivory Coast.” End Slavery Now, http://www.endslaverynow.org/blog/articles/the-chocolate-slaves-of-the-ivory-coast.

8:“Fairtrade Chocolate – Fairtrade America.” Fairtrade Chocolate – Fairtrade America, fairtradeamerica.org/Fairtrade-Products/Chocolate.

9:“Child Labor in Your Chocolate? Check Our Chocolate Scorecard.” Green America, http://www.greenamerica.org/end-child-labor-cocoa/chocolate-scorecard.

10: “Child Labor in Your Chocolate? Check Our Chocolate Scorecard.” Green America, http://www.greenamerica.org/end-child-labor-cocoa/chocolate-scorecard.

11: “Our Story.” Alter Eco. Accessed May 02, 2019. https://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/our-story.

12: “Our Story.” Alter Eco. Accessed May 02, 2019. https://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/our-story.

13: “Our Story.” Alter Eco. Accessed May 02, 2019. https://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/our-story.

14: “Our Story.” Alter Eco. Accessed May 02, 2019. https://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/our-story.

15: “Vote Every Day. Vote B Corp.” Certified B Corporation, bcorporation.net/.

16: “Our Story.” Alter Eco. Accessed May 02, 2019. https://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/our-story.

17:“Child Labor in Your Chocolate? Check Our Chocolate Scorecard.” Green America, http://www.greenamerica.org/end-child-labor-cocoa/chocolate-scorecard.

18:“Child Labor in Your Chocolate? Check Our Chocolate Scorecard.” Green America, http://www.greenamerica.org/end-child-labor-cocoa/chocolate-scorecard.

19:“Invest In Farmers.” Alter Eco, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/invest-in-farmers.

20:“Invest In Farmers.” Alter Eco, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/invest-in-farmers.

21: “Invest In Farmers.” Alter Eco, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/invest-in-farmers.

22: “The Dark Side of the Chocolate Industry.” Sierra Club, 21 Oct. 2017, http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/dark-side-chocolate-industry.

23:Posts, Blog. “You’re Not Only Buying Chocolate, You’re Supporting Communities around the World.” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 10 Oct. 2017, http://www.alterecofoods.com/blogs/blog/youre-not-only-buying-chocolate-youre-supporting-communities-around-the-world.

24:Posts, Blog. “You’re Not Only Buying Chocolate, You’re Supporting Communities around the World.” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 10 Oct. 2017, http://www.alterecofoods.com/blogs/blog/youre-not-only-buying-chocolate-youre-supporting-communities-around-the-world.

25: Posts, Blog. “You’re Not Only Buying Chocolate, You’re Supporting Communities around the World.” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 10 Oct. 2017, http://www.alterecofoods.com/blogs/blog/youre-not-only-buying-chocolate-youre-supporting-communities-around-the-world.

26:Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

27: Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

28: Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

29:Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

30: Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

31:Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

32:Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

33:Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

34: “Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Food Empowerment Project, foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate/.

Works Cited

Ambert, Antoine, and Antoine Ambert. “How Is Our Chocolate Produced?” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 16 Apr. 2018, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/how-is-our-chocolate-produced.

Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Food Empowerment Project, foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate/.

“Child Labor in Your Chocolate? Check Our Chocolate Scorecard.” Green America, http://www.greenamerica.org/end-child-labor-cocoa/chocolate-scorecard.

“Fairtrade Chocolate – Fairtrade America.” Fairtrade Chocolate – Fairtrade America, fairtradeamerica.org/Fairtrade-Products/Chocolate.

“Invest In Farmers.” Alter Eco, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/invest-in-farmers.

Martin, Carla D. “Slavery, Abolition, and Forced Labor.” Google Slides, Google, docs.google.com/presentation/d/1-tCZfTFSi7EuZqb1dxrJatPuv–33tERRDYM0y_PZBg/edit#slide=id.g8c500cbc9_2_55.

“Our Story.” Alter Eco, http://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/our-story. Accessed 2 May 2019.

Posts, Blog. “You’re Not Only Buying Chocolate, You’re Supporting Communities around the World.” Alter Eco, Alter Eco, 10 Oct. 2017, http://www.alterecofoods.com/blogs/blog/youre-not-only-buying-chocolate-youre-supporting-communities-around-the-world.

“The ‘Chocolate Slaves’ of the Ivory Coast.” End Slavery Now, http://www.endslaverynow.org/blog/articles/the-chocolate-slaves-of-the-ivory-coast.

“The Dark Side of the Chocolate Industry.” Sierra Club, 21 Oct. 2017, http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/dark-side-chocolate-industry.

“Vote Every Day. Vote B Corp.” Certified B Corporation, bcorporation.net/.

Yamada, Nicholas. “Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: What Does This Label Really Mean?” Perfect Daily Grind, 16 Nov. 2018, http://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/bean-bar-chocolate-label-really-mean/.

Media Works Cited

Balch, Oliver. “Child Labour: the Dark Truth behind Chocolate Production.” Raconteur, Raconteur Media Ltd., 22 June 2018, http://www.raconteur.net/business-innovation/child-labour-cocoa-production.

celticross89. “Why Buy Fair Trade Chocolate?” YouTube, YouTube, 31 Oct. 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NZv8FX4wPc.

Chung, Elizabeth. “5 Innovative Programs Changing the Social Sector | Classy.” Best Practices, Tips and Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits, Classy, 29 June 2018, http://www.classy.org/blog/5-innovative-programs-changing-social-sector/.

Yu, Douglas. “Alter Eco Founders on NextWorld Evergreen’s Acquisition: Chocolate Consumers Want a Story.” Confectionerynews.com, William Reed Business Media Ltd., 18 Dec. 2017, http://www.confectionerynews.com/Article/2017/12/18/NextWorld-Evergreen-acquires-Alter-Eco.

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