All posts by dleeportland

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and Social Sustainability

Ghirardelli sign in San Francisco, created in 1923. A welcome sign for approaching ships from the Golden Gate Strait

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was founded by and is named for Domenico Ghirardelli. Ghirardelli was born in 1817, in Rapallo, Italy (Wiki, 2019).  During his teen years, he apprenticed under Romanengo, a noted chocolatier in Genoa (Wiki, 2019).  When Ghirardelli was about 20, he moved to South America, and in 1838 he established a confectionery in Lima Peru (Ghirardelli, 2019). Then in 1849, at the recommendation of his former neighbor, In 1849 he moved to California on the recommendation of his former neighbor, James Lick (who went on to become a real estate investor, and land baron, and the wealthiest person in California (James Lick, 2019)), who had brought 600 pounds of Ghirardelli’s chocolate with him to San Francisco the year before. In that year (Wiki, 2019), Ghirardelli opened his first store in Stockton, CA, selling confections to California Gold Rush miners, who were looking for a little sweet relief from a day of digging in the dirt for shiny objects (Ghirardelli, 2019).

California Gold Rush Miner(49er), and chocolate lover?

Ghirardelli opened his second store in San Francisco.  In 1852, The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was incorporated and flourished (Ghirardelli, 2019).  In 1865, a Ghirardelli employee discovered the Broma process to extract the cocoa butter, producing a much more intense chocolate flavor than other processes like Dutching (Ghirardelli, 2019).  In 1884, Ghirardelli’s sons became partners in the business, which shipped products throughout the West and to the eastern U.S., China, Japan, and Mexico (Ghirardelli, 2019).  In 1893, the company expanded its operation by moving its manufacturing to the Pioneer Woolen Building on San Francisco’s waterfront; present site of Ghirardelli Square (Ghirardelli, 2019).  By the end of the 19th century, the entire chocolate industry was riding the wave of the industrial revolution (Coe & Coe, 2013) and maturing quickly, and Ghirardelli Chocolate had a stake in that industry.  Advances in manufacturing and transportation technology enabled increased chocolate quality, manufacturing, and distribution to consumers everywhere (Coe & Coe, 2013).  

   Despite chocolate manufacturing innovations over the many years, one thing remained constant; growing and harvesting the raw material, cacao beans, was a manual labor intensive process (Coe & Coe, 2013).  Labor was originally performed by slaves, like many other global commodities like sugar, coffee, and cotton (Leissle, 2018).Though slavery no longer provided the overall cacao labor resource by the early 1900’s, many countries, where cacao was grown and harvested, continued to use illegal labor (Leissle, 2018).

Lindt & Sprüngli  Family Welcomes Ghirardelli and others.

In 1998, Ghirardelli was purchased by the Lindt & Sprüngli  holding company, formally Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli  AG (Lindt & Sprüngli , 2019).  Founded in 1845, Lindt & Sprüngli is a Swiss chocolatier and confectionary company.  It’s known worldwide for its chocolate truffles and chocolate bars. As of 2018, it is the 7th largest chocolate company in the world with net sales of $4.1 Billion.  Mars Wrigley Confectionary is 1st with $18 Billion in net sales. Over the last 25 years, Lindt & Sprüngli or its holding company has also acquired chocolate makers Cafferel, Hoffbauer, Küffner and Russel Stover.  All combined, these Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate makers have over 700 years of bean to bar chocolate making experience.

Lindt & Sprüngli wholly owned subsidiaries and their brands

Social Sustainability Policies and Practices

Ghirardelli is committed to accomplishing the sustainability goals set forth by Lindt & Sprüngli (Ghirardelli, 2019).  Lindt & Sprüngli and its companies have been actively pursuing and accomplishing sustainability goals in every aspect of their chocolate making since the early 2000’s (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019). Most recently, they embrace and set out to achieve the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) (United Nations, 2019).  Specifically, and as a notable example of Lindt & Sprüngli’s sustainability efforts, the company is committed to responsibly sourcing its raw materials for chocolate, cacao beans.   In 2008, Lindt & Sprüngli started its cocoa farming program in Ghana.

Lindt & Sprüngli’s Farming Program Seal

Prior to that and during the program’s establishment, West Africa and specifically Ghana had been in the media, and formally reported as using illegal child labor and putting children at risk in unsafe conditions (Ryan, 2011).  Later there was overall agreement that those reports were somewhat inaccurate or sensationalized (Berlan, 2013). The child labor situation was a product of the local culture and extremely poor economic conditions in Ghana (Berlan, 2013).  Since Lindt & Sprüngli sources 100% of its West African cocoa bean supply from Ghana because of the high quality of cocoa beans in the region, it has a vested interest in ensuring the Ghana cacao farming communities are supported (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).

Ghana Cacao farming is a family and community effort

With the farming program, Lindt & Sprüngli’s goals are to ensure decent and resilient livelihoods for cocoa farmers and their families, by addressing poverty, child labor and deforestation (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).  In kind, Lindt & Sprüngli   ensures supply of high quality of the cacao beans.  Their program achieves this by higher productivity on the farms, diversified incomes, preservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, reduced risk of child labor and improved infrastructure in communities (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).

   There are 4 elements to their farming program; traceability and farmer organization, training and knowledge transfer, farmer investments and community developments, and verification and continuous progress (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).


  Traceability of the cocoa beans is the key for ensuring sustainable cocoa sourcing (Lindt & Sprüngli , 2019).  Transparency enables them to guarantee the quality of the cocoa while at the same time knowing the social and ecological farming conditions on the ground. This also allows them to provide targeted support for the farmers.  As of 2017/2018 cocoa season, 72,528 farmers were participating in the program (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).  28% were women.  As a basis for their engagement with the farmers, they gather baseline data about the farms (including GPS coordinates) including the communities, and farmers to assess their specific needs.  To implement the program the farmers are organized into structures that are adjusted to match the local context.


  They provide adaptive training to address the local circumstances and needs. A large local field staff support the farmers to professionalize in many areas.  They train on farming practices related to cacao planting cultivating, harvesting, fermenting and drying, and use model farms as a training aid (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019). They also educate the farmers about environmental measures such as biodiversity, organic fertilizers, and forest preservation and restoration. Training on health, labor safety and labor standards including child labor, is provided (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).  There is also business practices training to help farmers increase productively, decrease costs and advise on how to diversify their income with other opportunities (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).

Farmer and Community Investment and Development

   Lindt & Sprüngli invests in its cacao farmers and supporting the farming communities. The program distributes higher yielding and disease resistant cacao seedlings to the farmers as well as shade trees to help rejuvenate older unproductive trees and overall plantations.  Thus far the program has distributed over 3 million seedlings and almost 1 million shade trees (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019). They provide a provision of farming supplies such as pruning tools, personal safety gear and fertilizer to help the farmers become more efficient and apply the farming practices that they have been trained on. They have constructed water systems for clean drinking water also waste water.  And finally, they have provided renovation of primary schools to combat the risk of child labor as well as support awareness and monitoring measures.

Verification and Continuous Improvement

   Finally, they have a robust verification and continuous progress, provided internally as well as externally by independent a 3rd party (Lindt & Sprüngli , April 2019).  The internal monitoring is provided by hundreds of local project partner staff.  They visit the farmers and their farms annually and provide assessment and feedback. External monitoring is provided by the nonprofit Earthworm Foundation (Earthworm Foundation, 2019).  Earthworm assesses the entire Lindt & Sprüngli farming program including its internal monitoring.  Earthworm provides recommendations for program improvement and ways to resolve the underlying reasons for non-compliance (Lindt & Sprüngli, 2015).

Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. and
Lindt & Sprüngli: Global Citizens

   Lindt & Sprüngli not only sources its high-quality cocoa beans from Ghana but from the world’s most renowned cocoa origins such as Latin America (mainly Ecuador), the Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.

Countries around the globe that participate in the farming program
(Lindt & Sprüngli April 2019)

Farming programs have been put in place in those countries and they are continuously working to establish the program in other countries that they source from. Today, more than 72,500 farmers participate in the Lindt & Sprüngli farming program (Lindt & Sprüngli , 2019). Over 85% of Ghirardelli cocoa beans are sourced through the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program (Ghirardelli, 2019).

More information about the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program, can be found in the youtube video below.

Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate companies, including Ghirardelli, have a long, interesting, and successful history of bean to bar chocolate making.  They have invested in the short and long term future of their company as well as the future of their cacao suppliers. They are not just a top ten global chocolate company that generates high revenues and profits for its shareholders, but also a responsible socially sustainable global citizen.


Berlan, A. (2013). Social Sustainability in Agriculture: An Anthropoligical Perspective on Child Labour in Cocoa Production in Ghana. 1088-1100.

Coe, S. D., & Coe, M. D. (2013). The True History of Chocolate. London: Thomas & Hudson.

Earthworm Foundation. (2019, April 27). Target Members. Retrieved from

Ghirardelli. (2019, April 22). About Ghiradelli. Retrieved from

James Lick. (2019, April 15). Retrieved from

Leissle, K. (2018). Cocoa. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Lindt & Sprüngli . (2019, April 28). Corporate Sustainability. Retrieved from

Lindt & Sprüngli . (April 2019). 2018 Lindt & Sprüngli Sustainability Report. Kilchburg, Switzerland: Lindt & Sprüngli .

Lindt & Sprüngli. (2015, December 15). The Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program.

Ryan, O. (2011). Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. 43-62.

United Nations. (2019, April 28). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from

Wiki. (2019, April 16). Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Retrieved from

“We have more Chocolate”: Chocolate Innovation in the Industrial Revolution.

Walter Baker & Co Ltd. Brand Logo
(Walter Baker Co.,1917)

Chocolate Industry Before the Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution took place about 1760 to 1850, all across Europe (especially Great Britain), and the United States (especially New England) (Allen, 2011).  When most think of revolution they envision an oppressed people abruptly overthrowing the existing government and starting a new system of government.  Like the American Revolution or the French Revolution, or the revolution that’s currently taking place in Venezuela.  The industrial revolution was certainly a transition to a new system or way of producing things, but I like to think of it as more of an era of direct or indirect collaboration and healthy competition 😊 .  I guess the industrial collaboration and competition just doesn’t have the same “oomph” to it.

The industrial revolution represented a transition to new manufacturing processes in many different sectors, that had previously been done manually or by hand (Allen, 2011). 

Increase and efficient use of steam and water power, chemical and iron manufacturing and the development of machine tools and culminating in the mechanized factory system (Wikipedia, 2019).  It also led to a sustained increase in population and economic growth.  The textile industry primarily benefited from the Industrial Revolution, but the Chocolate industry certainly benefited from this era of innovation (Wikipedia, 2019).

Chocolate in different simple forms had been produced for consumption for Europe and the United States since its Spanish “discovery”, from the Mesoamerican peoples, in the 16th century (Coe & Coe, 2013).  Spain had long had a monopoly on chocolate production and kept the price point high so when it was first introduced to other countries, only the wealthy could afford to buy it (Walter Baker & Co., 1884).  This likely delayed an increase in chocolate production and also chocolate manufacturing and product innovations.

The processing of the raw material of cacao beans to edible chocolate had not changed significantly; roasting, winnowing, grinding, and milling (Leissle, 2018).  Most of the process was done manually using simple devices and on a small scale.  There was large scale chocolate production going on but that was producing chocolate in just wafer form for beverages and still done by hand.  Like any developing industry, chocolate product costs were high, and there was not much availability or product variation (Coe & Coe, 2013).   

17th Century Cacao Grinding
(Walter Baker Co.,1917)

Revolution is in the Air and in the Chocolate

One of earliest documented uses of power machinery being utilized for chocolate production was by Dr. James Baker of Dorchester Massachusetts and John Hannon of Ireland (Walter Baker & Co., 1884).  Hannon was a chocolate maker.  Dr. Baker had some knowledge of the cacao bean and chocolate and provided the funding for the startup business. Together, in 1765, they rented space in a grist mill in Milton Lower Falls, Massachusetts and ground cacao beans using hydro power (Coe & Coe, 2013).  Previously, the grist mill had been used for flour for many years.

1822 Milton, MA Lower Mills from a to scale model.  Baker mill on the right.
(Walter Baker Co.,1917)

In 1772, Dr. Baker and Hannon marketed and sold their product as Hannon’s Best Chocolate, in the cake form.  In 1799, Hannon disappeared en route to the West Indies and Dr. Baker continued the chocolate business under his name (Coe & Coe, 2013).  Imagine starting and growing ANY type of business during the American Revolutionary War, near Boston, Massachusetts.  Incredible.

Bing Map of Boston Area, with Dorchester outlined

A Revolution Takes Time

What many do not remember or never fully learned, was that Independence Day (4th of July), was the date (July 4, 1776) that the 13 colonies of America, declared their independence from Great Britain (Wikipedia, 2019).  The Revolutionary War continued for another 7 years until 1783 when the Paris treaty was signed (Wikipedia, 2019).  A revolution takes time.

In 1820, Dr. Baker’s grandson Walter, took over the business and the chocolate company was reorganized with other contributors and investors under the name of the Walter Baker & Company (Coe & Coe, 2013).

Walter Baker & Co. Founders
(Walter Baker Co.,1917)

Birds-Eye view of Walter Baker & Co’s Mills at Dorchester and Milton
(Walter Baker Co.,1917)

Chocolate Machine at Walter Baker & Co. could produce 10,000 lbs. daily (Walter Baker Co.,1917)

It produced many chocolate products like unsweetened cocoa powder and sweetened chocolate (named for John German (Walter Baker & Co., 1884)) for baking, dipping and candy making.  Or any of their recipes.

Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Bar Product : Image from Joy of Baking website

Another major milestone for chocolate production was accomplished by Coenraad Johannes Van Houten in Amsterdam in 1828 (Coe & Coe, 2013).   Instead of boiling and skimming to remove the cacao butter from the chocolate liquor, he developed a mechanized hydraulic press for that process function (Coe & Coe, 2013).

Early cocoa press in Van Houten’s Factory, using manual labor (Coe & Coe, 2013)
Houten’s Mechanized Hydraulic Press

Van Houten used the mechanized hydraulic press to press the fat from roasted cacao beans (Coe & Coe, 2013).  This hydraulic process created a cacao cake which then could be pulverized into cacao powder, which could be used in all manufacturers.

Van Houten also innovated the use of alkaline salts to remove the bitter taste and made it more water soluble.  This is known as Dutching (Coe & Coe, 2013).  Baker did not approve of Dutching or adding anything, including chemicals, to cacao.  He believed the chemical process diminished the natural aroma and flavor of the cacao seeds (Walter Baker & Co., 1884).

Joseph Fry and his legacies had been making chocolate in Great Britain since 1728.  In 1789, Fry purchased Watt’s steam engine (The steam engine was perfected by James Watt in the late 1700’s, for many different industrial applications) to be the motive force to grind his cacao beans, instead of hydro power (Coe & Coe, 2013).

In 1847, The Fry Company went on to create a blend of cocoa powder and sugar with melted cacao butter, instead of warm water, so a thinner viscous chocolate could be cast into a mold. This was the world’s first true eating chocolate, not brittle and dry as before (Coe & Coe, 2013).

Van Houten and Fry Take Production Skyward

With the Van Houten processing break through, and Fry perfecting a way to mechanize the grinding process, and other companies following suit,  overall chocolate production on both sides of the Atlantic was able to increase substantially and meet consumer demands (Coe & Coe, 2013).

There were other chocolate innovations during the Industrial Revolution.

Such as, in 1826, Swiss Phillipe Suchard, began making chocolate with his invented machinery which included the world’s first melangeur or mixing machine (Coe & Coe, 2013).

Innovation Continues

And just because the Industrial Revolution ended, chocolate manufacturing processes continued to improve and innovate, and the chocolate product continued to be refined to satisfy all consumers tastes and thereby increase chocolate production.

In Great Britain, the Cadbury Brothers, who had a long history of making innovative chocolate and cocoa products, would always be competing with Fry to outdo each other with new product and gain more market share (Coe & Coe, 2013).

In 1867, Henri Nestle’ and Daniel Peter worked together to create the first milk chocolate bar. Peters, a swiss chocolate manufacturer came up with the idea of using Nestle’s invented powdered milk in his process (Coe & Coe, 2013).

In 1879, Swiss Rudolph Lindt invented the conche machine and the conching process.  Conching is the process of rolling chocolate liquor and using that frictional heat to achieve a desired taste and smoothness. Chocolate was no longer coarse or gritty.  Chocolate consumers loved it.  Lindt called this chocolate fondant and the conching process became the standard for making chocolate (Coe & Coe, 2013).   

And in 1903, like Thomas Edison or Henry Ford, Milton S. Hershey, would bring all the product and process development and innovation, together, that occurred before his time, and launch his chocolate company (Coe & Coe, 2013).  

Over the many years, chocolate of all types, used in all applications were produced at lower and lower prices, and chocolate “went viral”.   Adults and children everywhere can’t get enough of chocolate (and sugar, which has been a prevalent ingredient in chocolate and also has driven chocolate consumption (Mintz, 1986)).

Trending Chocolate Consumption

In 1830, both in the U.S. and U.K., we were eating about 3/5  oz. per capita (Walter Baker & Co. Ltd., 1917).  In 1860, the U.S. and U.K were eating about 2 oz.  per capita (Walter Baker & Co. Ltd., 1917).  By 1915 we were eating over 30 oz. of chocolate per capita (Walter Baker & Co. Ltd., 1917).  Clearly, we have loved chocolate and the companies and innovators of the industrial revolution learned to make a lot of inexpensive and a variety of quality chocolate for us. 


And that love relationship continues with the world today. In 2015, just in the U.S. alone, we ate 9.5 lbs. per person per year.

World’s Biggest Chocolate Consumers in 2015

So the next time you tear open a Ghirardelli dark chocolate square, or unwrap a Hershey chocolate kiss, or a nice someone uses Baker’s Chocolate to actually bake you chocolate frosted chocolate cupcakes for your birthday…..before you devour that sweet mind altering chocolate treat, maybe tip your hat or give props to the chocolate industry innovators of the industrial revolution.  They certainly enabled modern day chocolate manufacturing processes like the ones featured in this YouTube video by Tesco (Tesco, 2015).


Allen, R. C. (2011). Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Baker’s Sweet German’s Chocolate Product Image. (2019, March 13). Retrieved from

Coe, M. D., & Coe, S. D. (2013). The True History of Chocolate, 3rd Edition. London: Thames & Hudson.

Leissle, K. (2018). Cocoa. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Mintz, S. (1986). Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books.

Niall McCarthy. (2015, July 22). The World’s Biggest Chocolate Consumers. Retrieved from

Tesco. (2015, Dec 9). Scrumptious Chocolate: How is chocolate made? Tesco.

Walter Baker & Co. (1884). Cocoa and Chocolate: A Short History of Their Production and Use. Dorchester: Walter Baker & Co.

Walter Baker & Co. Ltd. (1917). Cocoa and Chocolate: A Short History of Their Production and Use. Dorchester: Walter Baker & Co. Ltd.

Wikipedia. (2019, March 10). American Revolutinary War. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2019, March 10). Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from