Tag Archives: bean-to-bar

Functional Chocolate: Health Claims and Marketing Campaigns

One step into Cambridge Naturals, a community natural health store in Cambridge, MA, and the market for organic, fair-trade, vegan, bean-to-bar, local, non-gmo, paleo, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced chocolate products is on full display. A meeting with the store’s manager & grocery lead adds another term to the list of qualities their consumer base is looking for when they step into the store – functional chocolate. This trend shows a probable correlation between what customers are willing to spend on chocolate that makes health claims, based on the way the cacao is processed and additional ingredients added that are promoted to provide nutritional benefits. The functional chocolate trend begs the question – are these health claims regarding various methods of cacao processing and healthful additives substantiated by scientific research, or are they merely a marketing gimmick? This article will analyze recent research on the health benefits of chocolate as a functional food, look at fermentation and processing differences from a nutrient perspective, and consider additional benefits of medicinal additives to chocolate in order to best answer this question.

 

How are functional foods different from healthy foods?

In a study published in the Academic Food Journal/Akademik (2014) that looked at the development of functional chocolate, the differences between health foods and functional foods were defined as the following:

“Functional foods are a new category of products that promise consumers improvements in targeted physiological functions” (Albak, Fatma, & Tekin, 2014, p. 19).

Whereas, “conventional ‘healthy’ foods are typically presented as types of foods contributing to a healthy diet, e.g. low-fat products, high-fibre products, or vegetables, without emphasizing the role of any single product” (Albak, Fatma, & Tekin, 2014, p. 19).

 

Functional foods share these characteristics:

  • Health benefits that can be linked to a specific product
  • Well-defined physiological effects are directly connected with particular components in the specific product
  • Scientific evidence about health effects that is used to develop specific functional products
  • There is novelty for the consumer with the promised benefits
  • Modern technology is often needed to manufacture the functional foods due to specific components being added, modified or removed (Albak, et al., 2014).

 

Demand for Functional Foods

The market for functional foods exists in large part due to the rising popularity of healthier products by consumers (Albak, et al., 2014). One contributor to interest in healthy products is their use as a remedy to detrimental lifestyle factors that can contribute to unyielding high levels of inflammation in the body (Jain, Parag, Pandey, & Shukla, 2015). In the book, Inflammation and Lifestyle (2015), the connection between diet and inflammation is emphasized.

“Our diet is one of the leading sources of these chronic illnesses, and changing the diet is the key to prevention and cure. A number of dietary factors, including fiber-rich foods, whole grains, fruits (especially berries), omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins (e.g., C and E), and certain trace minerals (e.g., zinc), have been documented to reduce blood concentrations of inflammatory markers. The best way to correct and eliminate inflammation is to improve comprehensive lifestyle and dietary changes rather than taking pharmaceutical drugs, the latter of which can cause unintended harm in the form of damaging side effects” (Jain, et al., 2015, p. 143).

The authors provide this graphic to illustrate what an anti-inflammatory diet pyramid looks like in terms of specific food groups. Note that dark chocolate is positioned on the top of the pyramid.

 

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“Anti-inflammatory edible’s pyramid” (Jain, et al., 2015, p. 144)

An introduction to the benefits of superfoods and their role in an anti-inflammatory diet are explained in the publication. “An anti-inflammatory diet is one that is low in processed foods and high in fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, sprouts, nuts and superfoods. Maca, spirulina, purple corn, wheatgrass, coconut butter and raw chocolate are a few of the health promoting superfoods that are gaining international interest” (Jain, et al., 2015, p. 144). The inclusion of “raw chocolate” in the category of superfoods versus “chocolate” warrants further examination and will be explored later in this article, but the position remains clear that evidence supports the protective benefits of chocolate as a part of a healthy diet.

 

Chocolate as a Functional Food

Under the category of functional foods as previously defined, chocolate, as will be further described, fulfills all the requisite characteristics. Even though the term functional food is relatively recent, the practice of consuming chocolate for its specific health benefits is centuries old. “Chocolate has been consumed as confection, aphrodisiac, and folk medicine for many years before science proved its potential health benefiting effects. Main compounds of cocoa and chocolate which contribute to human health are polyphenols that act as antioxidants and have potential anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, antihepatotoxic, antibacterial, antiviral, antiallergenic, and anticarcinogenic properties” (Ackar, Djurdjica, Lendić, Valek,… & Nedić, 2013, p. 1). The studied physiological effects of chocolate include “reported health benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate particularly focus on cardiovascular diseases (but also showing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects), including increased blood flow at the brachial artery and the left descending coronary artery, decreased blood pressure, decreased platelet aggregation and increased HDL cholesterol” (Bordiga, et al., 2015, p. 840). Numerous research discoveries have shed light on the complex nature of how these protective benefits of cacao are reduced or encouraged by different methods of sourcing, processing and consuming chocolate (Jalil, & Ismail, 2008).

Polyphenols are found in many food sources including, “vegetables and fruits, green and black tea, red wine, coffee, chocolate, olives, and some herbs and spices, as well as nuts and algae” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2). However, “chocolate is one of the most polyphenol-rich foods along with tea and wine” where, “results [have] indicated that dark chocolate exhibited the highest polyphenol content” (Jalil, & Ismail, 2008, p. 2194). In unfermented cacao beans, there are three main groups of polyphenols, “flavan-3-ols or catechins, anthocyanins, and proanthocyanidins” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2). Differences in cacao genetics or varieties and country of origin show varying levels of polyphenols by up to 4-fold (Jalil, & Ismail, 2008). “Criollo cultivars contained higher levels of procyanidins than Forastero and Trinitario beans. In addition, crop season and country of origin have impact on polyphenols in cocoa beans” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2). Findings regarding polyphenol level by country of origin are contentious but include, “highest phenolic content was in Malaysian beans followed by Sulawesian, Ghanian and Côte d’Ivore” (Jalil, & Ismail, 2008, p. 2201) and “cocoa beans and processed products from Ecuador showed the highest levels of anthocyanins, followed by Nigeria and Cameroon” (Bordiga, et al., 2015, p. 840). Due to additional factors besides country of origin and genetic variation influencing the polyphenols in cacao, inclusion of the effects of processing cacao on flavor and polyphenol content is important to understand health claims made regarding the finished product, chocolate.

Processing cacao beans (namely the stages of fermentation and drying), and roasting in the chocolate making process greatly affect polyphenol content of the finished product (Ackar, et al., 2013; Bordiga, et al., 2015). “Due to these factors, the ratio and types of these components found in cocoa beans are unlikely to be the same as those found in the finished products” (Bordiga, et al., 2015, p. 841). For functional chocolate enthusiasts driving market trends, the balance between healthy and protective benefits of polyphenols and the effects on their levels through processing are of particular interest. “All these processes are needed to develop characteristic cocoa aroma. Polyphenols give astringent and bitter aroma to cocoa and contribute to reduced perception of “cocoa flavour” by sensory panel. However, nowadays processes are conducted in such manner to preserve as much polyphenol as possible with maintaining satisfactory aroma” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2). The debate about the purpose of chocolate is hereby noted between the sensory experience – the aroma development, especially in the roasting stages, versus consumption for health effects with less regard to smell, taste and gustatory pleasure.

The search for a sweet spot between these poles is a lucrative area for producers and retail establishments. As described earlier, development of functional food into specific products uses scientific evidence about health effects, where modern technology is often needed to manufacture those products, in order to observe targeted physiological effects or functions (Albak, et al., 2014).

“Generally, as cocoa beans were further processed, the levels of anthocyanins and flavan-3-ols decreased. The largest observed losses of phenolics occurred during roasting. A progressive decreasing trend in polyphenol concentration was observed in the other processed samples as well. Despite the original content of polyphenols in raw cocoa beans, technological processes imply a significant impact on cocoa quality, confirming the need of specific optimisation to obtain high value chocolate” (Bordiga, et al., 2015, p. 840).

In order to preserve antioxidant quality through dark-chocolate products with “high flavonoid contents…these chocolates are produced by controlling bean selection, fermentation, and reduced heat and alkalization treatments” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2201). Although one of the most detrimental effects of processing on polyphenol and antioxidant levels is alkalization (or dutching) of cocoa powder (Ackar, et al., 2013; Jalil, et al., 2008), even the fermentation process significantly reduces flavonoid levels by up to 90% (Jalil, et al., 2008). However, in the search for the sweet spot between flavor and health benefits, fermentation presents a way to reduce bitter compounds due to the presence of flavonoids and polyphenols (Jalil, et al., 2008) and enhance flavor before roasting or further processing like alkalization. For example, some “manufacturers tend to remove [flavonoids] in large quantities to enhance taste quality… the manufacturers tend to prefer Ghanian cocoa beans, which are well-fermented and flavorful than that of Dominican or Indonesian beans, which are considered as less fermented and have low quality cocoa flavor” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2203). In Crafack’s study (2013), besides genetic flavor potentials of cacao beans, fermentation is cited as the most important factor influencing cocoa’s flavor potential.

“A properly conducted fermentation process is considered a prerequisite for the production of high quality chocolates since inadequately fermented cocoa beans will fail to produce cocoa specific aroma compounds during subsequent processing” (Crafack, Petersen, Eskildsen, Petersen, Heimdal, & Nielsen, 2013, p. 1).

In a later study by Crafack (2014), microorganism differences between fermentation practices are shown to produce variations in cacao flavor profiles. “Despite the importance of a properly conducted fermentation process, poor post-harvest practices, in combination with the unpredictable spontaneous nature of the fermentations, often results in sub-optimal flavour development…A microbial fermentation process therefore seems essential for developing the full complexity of compounds which characterises cocoa aroma. In conclusion, the results of the present study show that the volatile aroma profile of chocolate can be influenced using starter cultures” (Crafack, 2014, p. 1). Further research that builds on Crafack’s findings was published by Kadow (2015), explaining the role of multiple factors in the country of origin that characterize the fermentation process.

“During this in most cases spontaneous fermentation of the fruit pulp surrounding the seeds, the pulp is degraded by yeasts and bacteria. This degradation results in heat and organic acid formation. Heat effect and tissue acidification are the key parameters guiding flavour precursor formation. Accordingly, not microorganisms themselves but exclusively their metabolites are necessary for successful fermentation” (Kadow, Niemenak, Rohn, and Lieberei, 2015, p. 357).

This study aimed to further the development of standardization and mechanization of cocoa fermentation for the benefit of cacao production quality purposes. On the ranges of heat tested from fermenting heaps of cacao beans, 30 °C to a maximum of 50 °C was obtained after 24 h of fermentation at the inner part of the heap (Jespersen, Nielsen, Hønholt, and Jakobsen, 2005).

Finally, as an interesting note about polyphenol changes in cacao during fermentation, although “unripe and ripe cacao pods contain solely (−)-epicatechin and (+)-catechin. During fermentation, levels of both of these compounds were reduced, but (−)-catechin was formed due to heat-induced epimerization” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2). These findings warrant more studies on the changes that happen during cacao fermentation, where although certain protective antioxidant levels decrease, other chemical compounds are formed due to the process of heat due to microorganism metabolites and acidification to the bean tissue.

After fermentation, the beans are dried to reduce water content for safe transport and storage of the cacao before further processing by chocolate manufactures. “During drying, additional loss of polyphenol occurs, mainly due to nonenzymatic browning reactions” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2) where “high temperatures and prolonged processing times will decrease the amount of catechins” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p.2203). The dried cacao is then shipped to the chocolate manufacturer where roasting is often performed. The roasting and generally the further processing of cacao degrades the levels of polyphenols by triggering the oxidation process (Ackar, et al., 2013; Bordiga, et al., 2015).

Conching is a process of agitation of chocolate mass at temperatures above 50 °C that is used to refine both the cocoa solids and sugar crystals to change the taste, smell, flavor, texture (mouthfeel) and viscosity of chocolate (Chocolate Alchemy, 2016; Di Mattia, Martuscelli, Sacchetti, Beheydt, Mastrocola, & Pittia, 2014) Different procedures for conching exist, including Long Time Conching (LTC) and Short Time Conching (STC). A study by Di Mattia (2014) done on these two conching processes and the implications for bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity found interesting results. The publication stressed the importance of time/temperature combinations as process parameters “to modulate and increase the functional properties of some foods” (Di Mattia, et al., 2014, pp.367-368). In the study, STC consisted of “a dry step at 90 °C for 6 h and then a wet step at 60°C for 1h,” while LTC involved, “a dry step at 60°C for 6 h and a then wet step at the same conditions (60 °C, 6 h)” (Di Mattia, et al., 2014, p. 368). The results of the analysis on phenolic content, antioxidant values defined as radical scavenging properties showed, “that the conching process, and the LTC in particular, determined an improvement of the antiradical and reducing properties of chocolate” (Di Mattia, et al., 2014, p.372). Recommendation for further studies was suggested to “optimize the conching process for the modulation of the functional properties,” (Di Mattia, et al., 2014, p.372) but the results remain in favor of longer time and lower temperature processing to preserve health benefits in chocolate during the conching phase.

From the perspective of chocolate makers, assessing combinations of ingredients/additives that can either help or hinder protective compounds in chocolate – including polyphenols and bioavailability, is important. Jalil, & Ismail’s review (2008), considered, “both bioavailability and antioxidant status [important] in determining the relationship between cocoa flavonoids and health benefits” (Jalil, et al., 2008, pp. 2194-2195). Studies focused on epicatechin from chocolate found the polyphenols, “rapidly absorbed by humans, with plasma levels detected after 30min of oral digestion, peaking after 2-3 h and returning to baseline after 6–8 h. In addition, cumulative effect in high daily doses was recorded” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2). Interestingly, an argument for the benefits of chocolate’s sweetened and rich composition – if cocoa butter and some type of sweetener is used in processing – is explained where the “presence of sugars and oils generally increases bioavailability of polyphenols, while proteins, on the other hand, decrease it” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2). Milk chocolate lovers may be disappointed to find that, “milk proteins reduce bioavailability of epicatechin in chocolate confectionary…[with] reported inhibition of in vivo antioxidant activity of chocolate by addition of milk either during manufacturing process or during ingestion” (Ackar, et al., 2013, p. 2).

Additional health properties of cacao found especially in dark chocolate, apart from polyphenols, may have a role to play in reports of chocolate cravings and their use as functional food. Theses beneficial components include “methylxanthines, namely caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2197) “peptides, and minerals” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2200). “Theobromine is a psychoactive compound without diuretic effects” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2198). “Cocoa is also rich in proteins. Cocoa peptides are generally responsible for the flavour precursor formation” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2199). Lastly, “minerals are one of the important components in cocoa and cocoa products. Cocoa and cocoa products contained relatively higher amount of magnesium compared to black tea, red wine, and apples” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2200).

A well supported rule of thumb for finding high antioxidant capacity functional chocolate is to look for the percentage of non-fat cocoa solids (NFCS) in chocolate products to determine total phenolic content (Jalil, et al., 2008; Vinson, & Motisi, 2015)  “Dark chocolates contain the highest NFCS among the different types of chocolates” (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2204) However, due to percentages of cocoa solids on on chocolate labels including polyphenol-free cocoa butter, the accuracy of this measure is not always correct and can lead to overestimating polyphenol content in certain types of chocolate (Jalil, et al., 2008, p. 2204). That said, a recent study by Vinson and Motisi (2015), performed on commercial chocolate bars found “a significant and linear relationship between label % cocoa solids and the antioxidant assays as well as the sum of the monomers.” From which they concluded that, “consumers can thus rationally choose chocolate bars based on % cocoa solids on the label” (Vinson, & Motisi, 2015, p. 526).

Additions to Functional Chocolate

In health food stores like Cambridge Naturals and Deborah’s Natural Gourmet in Concord, MA, the presence of functional chocolate with additional health boosting ingredients is prevalent. The validity of these claims to improve focus, enhance libido and energy, and other desirable improved physiological functions, based on herbs, powders and additional superfoods mixed with cacao, is intriguing. A study by Albak and Tekin (2014), found that mixing aniseed, ginger, and cinnamon into the dark chocolate mix before conching, “increased the total polyphenol content while they decreased the melting properties of dark chocolate after conching” (Albak, et al., 2014, p. 19).

Other resources that further elucidate specific findings on these superfoods, herbs and spices include:

Afolabi Clement Akinmoladun, Mary, Tolulope Olaleye, and Ebenezer Olatunde Farombi. “Cardiotoxicity and Cardioprotective Effects of African Medicinal Plants.” Toxicological Survey of African Medicinal Plants (2014): 395. This publication includes information on gingko, turmeric among other additives to functional chocolate and how protective vascular effects are formed.

Ruscigno, Matt, and Joshua Ploeg. Superfoods for Life, Cacao:-Improve Heart Health-Boost Your Brain Power-Decrease Stress Hormones and Chronic Fatigue-75 Delicious Recipes. Fair Winds Press (MA), 2014.

Wolfe, David. Superfoods: the food and medicine of the future. North Atlantic Books, 2010.

 

Raw Chocolate

Some consideration for the popularity of raw chocolate, which is used as the base of many functional chocolate products, deserves attention. As explained, there are many reasons chocolate can be considered a functional food, especially due to specific health promoting compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids, peptides, theobromine and minerals present in cacao and in chocolate. Unfortunately, overwhelming scientific evidence points to the detrimental effects on these compounds from processing, especially by heat. “Flavanols largely disappear once the cocoa bean is heated, fermented and processed into chocolate. In other words, making chocolate destroys the very ingredient that is supposed to make it healthy” (Crowe, 2015).  Raw chocolate, by the standards of raw foodism, means that food is not supposed to be heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit in order to preserve enzymes. This seems tricky to prove especially when chocolate makers receive cocoa beans from various countries of origin where fermenting and drying practices are not under their direct supervision. Some companies remedy this issue with bean-to-bar practices that ensure they have seen and approved the process that cacao beans undergo before shipment to the company’s own processing facilities, where low temperature winnowing, grinding and conching is under their complete control. The bean-to-bar method (See Taza’s Bean-to-Bar and Direct Trade process) also provides assurance that cacao is ethically (sometimes for organic and wild-crafted cacao if so desired) sourced. These initiatives often promote more sustainable and  better processed cacao, which means higher quality cacao for both the farmer, manufacturer and consumer. For these reasons, the popularity of raw cacao seems to fit into the development of functional foods where the consumer is able to enjoy a sometimes more bitter, medicinal tasting chocolate in the anticipation of a powerful physiological boost and a clearer conscience due to sourcing methods.

In the case of Yes Cacao, their Karma MellOwl botanical chocolate bar contains 41% cacao butter, and 59% botanicals which results in a deliciously complex, albeit golden colored bar due to the cocoa butter and turmeric content. Non-fat cacao solids which provide the main anti-inflammatory benefits of cacao are missing, but are replaced with other superfoods, spices and adaptogenic herbs like lucuma, maca, yacon, lion’s mane mushrooms, gingko, turmeric, pine pollen, cinnamon, bacopa, and gynostemma. The creators of the bars deem them functional medicine, as they combine cacao solids and sundried cane juice as a base for superfood and medicinal enhancements. In this video, Justin Frank Polgar recommends that Yes Cacao bars are eaten daily as a staple enhancement for ideal human functionality.

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Cambridge Naturals’ Yes Cacao Selection

 

Other raw chocolate companies that are focus on functional chocolate using additional superfoods, spices and herbs include:

Chocolatl More Than Chocolate

Righteously Raw Chocolates

Gnosis Chocolate

Addictive Wellness Raw Chocolate

Perfect Fuel

Stirs the Soul

Ohio Functional Chocolates

Great Bean Chocolate

Sacred Chocolate

 

Trends in functional foods heading in the direction of ‘naturally healthy’

From the perspective of growers, producers and consumers who want a high quality, healthful and good tasting chocolate product, the scientific findings that support the ideal balance between flavor and preservation of health promoting properties of cacao, are significant. The ideal way to conserve protective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits warrants consideration with the changes in polyphenol content during processing of cacao from raw bean, through fermentation to roasting, conching and mixing with other ingredients. Raw chocolate seems a good way to navigate this balance. Meanwhile, mass produced commercial chocolate companies or “big chocolate” continue to move their products in the direction of high quality premium chocolate and adopting new manufacturing processes in order to preserve cacao’s protective effects. The overarching trend uniting premium, natural and healthful ingredients is referred to in the food industry as naturally healthy foods. “This idea of using food to manage health may, in part, help explain growing consumer interest in fresh, natural and organic products”(Gagliardi, 2015). The melding of healthy, natural and functional foods to chocolate production reflects consumer preferences and industry recognition of the role diet plays on health and provides insights into the future of food. For now, medicinally enhanced, raw, naturally healthy, and functional chocolate seems light years ahead of other natural foods on the market today.

Examples of ‘naturally healthy’ chocolate brands:

Coracao Confections

Hu Paleo Chocolate

Eating Evolved, The Primal Dark Chocolate Company

Pure7 Chocolate

Author’s Note: While researching and writing this article the author happily consumed a great deal of functional, raw and medicinal chocolate and can attest to the powerful effects that far surpass conventional and even ‘premium chocolates’.

 

References:

Ackar, Djurdjica, Kristina Valek Lendić, Marina Valek, Drago Šubarić, Borislav Miličević, Jurislav Babić, and Ilija Nedić. “Cocoa polyphenols: can we consider cocoa and chocolate as potential functional food?.” Journal of chemistry 2013 (2013).

Albak, Fatma, and Ali Rıza Tekin. “Development of Functional Chocolate with Spices and Lemon Peel Powder by using Response Surface Method: Development of Functional Chocolate.” Academic Food Journal/Akademik GIDA 12, no. 2 (2014).

Afolabi Clement Akinmoladun, Mary, Tolulope Olaleye, and Ebenezer Olatunde Farombi. “Cardiotoxicity and Cardioprotective Effects of African Medicinal Plants.” Toxicological Survey of African Medicinal Plants (2014): 395.

Bordiga, Matteo, Monica Locatelli, Fabiano Travaglia, Jean Daniel Coïsson, Giuseppe Mazza, and Marco Arlorio. “Evaluation of the effect of processing on cocoa polyphenols: antiradical activity, anthocyanins and procyanidins profiling from raw beans to chocolate.” International Journal of Food Science & Technology 50, no. 3 (2015): 840-848..

Crafack, Michael, Mikael Agerlin Petersen, Carl Emil Aae Eskildsen, G. B. Petersen, H. Heimdal, and Dennis Sandris Nielsen. “Impact of starter cultures and fermentation techniques on the volatile aroma profile of chocolate.” CoCoTea 2013 (2013).

Crafack, Michael. “Influence of Starter Cultures, Fermentation Techniques, and Acetic Acid on the Volatile Aroma and Sensory Profile of Cocoa Liquor and Chocolate.” (2014).

Crowe, Kelly. “Chocolate Health Myth Dissolves.” CBCnews. January 05, 2015. Accessed May 8, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/chocolate-health-myth-dissolves-1.2879898.

Di Mattia, Carla, Maria Martuscelli, Giampiero Sacchetti, Bram Beheydt, Dino Mastrocola, and Paola Pittia. “Effect of different conching processes on procyanidin content and antioxidant properties of chocolate.” Food Research International 63 (2014): 367-372.

Gagliardi, Nancy. “Consumers Want Healthy Foods–And Will Pay More For Them.” Forbes. February 18, 2015. Accessed May 8, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/nancygagliardi/2015/02/18/consumers-want-healthy-foods-and-will-pay-more-for-them/#10fddf09144f.

Jain, Parag, Ravindra Pandey, and Shiv Shankar Shukla. “Inflammation and Lifestyle.” Inflammation: Natural Resources and Its Applications. Springer India, 2015. 143-152.

Jalil, Abbe Maleyki Mhd, and Amin Ismail. “Polyphenols in cocoa and cocoa products: is there a link between antioxidant properties and health?.”Molecules 13, no. 9 (2008): 2190-2219.

Jespersen, Lene, Dennis S. Nielsen, Susanne Hønholt, and Mogens Jakobsen. “Occurrence and diversity of yeasts involved in fermentation of West African cocoa beans.” FEMS Yeast Research 5, no. 4-5 (2005): 441-453.

Kadow, Daniel, Nicolas Niemenak, Sascha Rohn, and Reinhard Lieberei. “Fermentation-like incubation of cocoa seeds (Theobroma cacao L.)–Reconstruction and guidance of the fermentation process.” LWT-Food Science and Technology 62, no. 1 (2015): 357-361.

Vinson, Joe A., and Matthew J. Motisi. “Polyphenol antioxidants in commercial chocolate bars: Is the label accurate?.” Journal of Functional Foods 12 (2015): 526-529.

Zhang, Dapeng, and Lambert Motilal. “Origin, Dispersal, and Current Global Distribution of Cacao Genetic Diversity.” In Cacao Diseases, pp. 3-31. Springer International Publishing, 2016.

Filling in the Undone Process: bean-to-bar stores

 

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Image 1: Undone Bean to Bar Labels

Introduction

Undone Chocolate is a bean to bar manufacturer that prides itself with combining health with flavor in its cacao beans, or bridging the gap between art and science. It is located in bustling Union Kitchen in Northeast Washington DC, and it sells 2000 chocolate bars a month the three main flavors of Arouse, Nourish, and Replenish. (Undone 2016) Undone was established in December 2014 by Adam and Kristen Kavalier with Adam being a scientist and PhD graduate in plant biochemistry. Adam specializes in perfecting or bringing out the healthful benefits of cacao beans taking them to his lab where he tests them with a mass spectrometer. (Krystal 2015) As the slogan of the company says ‘we are only as good as our beans.’

In addition to prioritizing health and medicinal elements Undone also enhances organic cacao beans through direct trade with sourcing and purchasing bulk cacao bean pods for over $500 three times mo

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Image 2: Founder A. Kavalier

re than fair trade pricing of $150, and forming direct partnerships with small specialized partners in Central South America. (Undone 2016) The following ethnographic analysis will explore how the bean to bar company Undone is significant for resolving cacao chain problems from the topics of processing with making the chocolate bars, sourcing with buying the beans with direct trade, its knowledge or educational outreach with advertising, and its artisanship equipment. Arguably by focusing on cacao beans botanically pure and valuable origins with health and trade Undone helps to improve cacao chain issues in an organic aspect with focusing on basic but precise steps that enhances both product and production making it more sustainable with reciprocal benefits.

Part I Processing

Undone takes much care and attention in creating their gourmet organic cacao bars. As I observed touring the facility on a muggy Friday in April much love goes into producing the bars made from the basic ingredients of organic cacao and sugar. The harvested beans are placed on trays to be roasted or prepared for winnowing. I could smell the odors and feel the heat from the convection ovens walking through the shared kitchen. Winnowing separates the nib the dark meat of the cacao bean away from the shell as Adam demonstrated breaking the shell and moving the nib away with his fingers. (Presilla 2009, p.116)

bean to bar 101
Image 3: Basic Bean to Bar Process

A state of the art mélange rinds the nibs for four days reaching the right crystalline texture and removing all of the bitter taste astringent to the tongue. This requires heating and tempering. (Presilla 2009, p.114) The stone slabs help in making the cacao texture liquefied and creamy. The processed cacao is then poured in bins for aging and flavoring taking up to four months depending on the bean grade. Tempering continues but finished bars are trimmed and stored for the right ‘shine, snap and mouthfeel.’ (Benderly 2016, p.3) It was cool to see the Adam’s staff of two Liz and Meryl working around the clock to make this process a reality.

This refined process prizing health and antioxidants makes Undone a solver in cacao chain issues through its enriching elements. Undone’s emphasis on health reflects early Mesoamericans and connoisseurs who consumed cacao for health purposes. (Presilla 2009, p.12) The focus to blend health and flavor helps to bridge the gap between the nutritional and pleasurable benefits of chocolate. This is better than functional chocolate, which includes vitamins and other health enhancements without considering the flavor.

Undone focusing on the flavor of the beans without adding the extra ingredients of vanilla, or milk refines the cacao chain process organically with including less processed ingredients. (Eber 2012, p.185) As co-founder Kristen puts it putting more emphasis on the cacao beans enriches the health quality, and processing the cacao with less ingredients is more challenging to process and ferment according to Adam. (Sidman 2015, p.3) The concentration on including four key flavors help consumer with more clarity and less confusion with selection. (Eber 2012)

Part II. Sourcing

Undone uses direct trade to source its cacao beans. Kavalier says close partnerships with partners are formed on the ground and it keeps local economy sustainable. Undone harvests cacao beans primarily from Central and South American countries such as

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Image 4: DT Logo

Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Ecuador with the Dominican beans providing the most rich antioxidant flavor. (Crawford 2015) Direct Trade networks are important with providing high quality of cacao beans. (Crawford 2015) Relationships are formed with sourcing partners taking direct flights and trips to the site of producers to ensure proper produce. (Crawford 2015) Transparency is promoted with communication and networking to form strong long-term relationships. High quality and selection is promoted with cacao beans themselves where the best are sold at 50% above fair trade prices. (Intelligentsia 2016)

Undone’s policy in applying direct trade to source its cacao beans helps to organically resolve cacao chain problems in reciprocal and existential capacity. Undone purchasing for higher prices at $500 per shipment helps to create more profit for trade partners who are small scale producers, and creates more secure networks for them with larger profits. (Crawford 2015) It also dispels myths that buying smaller batches of cacao are unprofitable with shipping because the quality of the bean is improved. (Eber 2012, p.168) It also improves the quality of cacao with paying more to producers helping them to be more secure in their produce. As Adam puts it in comparing it with fair trade ‘fair trade incentivizes volume not quality,’ and ‘direct trade de-commoditizes cacao beans with ensuring shipment supply with more reliable trade networks.’ (Jacob 2014)

The price of an Undone Chocolate Bar is $8 as a result of direct trade price. Average consumers may purchase a $3 Hershey, but the price of a bean-to-bar Undone bar is worth it considering the stable supply rate and sufficiency. Direct relationships helps to ensure revenue in restrictive low revenue cacao producing nations like Ghana, which limits direct trade partnerships, but ensures quality. (Leissle 2013, p.24) It also ensures more stable or reciprocal trading benefits with neighboring countries in Latin America where cacao was originally produced revitalizing the economy. This helps to form or strengthen existing co-ops in these countries such as El Ceibo, which prizes grass roots organization meeting once every year, and having equal wage and rotating leadership. (Healy 2001, pp.134-135)

Part III. Knowledge Information

Undone prides itself on reaching out to consumers on the health benefits of cacao. The company sets up sampling workshops where Undone Bars are sold such Parcel Holiday Market in DC’s Navy Yard, Yes! Organic Market and Monroe Street. Before formally establishing Undone Adam and Kristen had sampling and tasting parties for friends and colleagues. (Krystal 2015, p.1) As stated Adam’s science background in plant chemistry helps him and Undone understand the medicinal benefits of cacao beans. One of the goals is to have a testing lab and offer courses in chocolate making. (Benderly 2016, p.2) As I looked at my complimentary Undone Bar of pink Himalayan salt I noticed a lot of key attributes about the product.

I noticed in simple terms the amount of ounces and ingredients used to make the bar which is 2.0. ounces. I saw the international locations of where the ingredients were sourced from which the Himalayas and the Dominican Republic. (Undone 2016) I see the nutritional facts of servings and trans fat which are very detailed in percentages. I see the premium and nutritional disclaimers for the health conscious, and the organizational labels that Undone produces its chocolate from which is USDA Organic, Direct Trade and Certified Vegan. (Undone 2016) Most importantly I notice the insignia and labeling which emphasizes the ingredients

Scan
Image 5: Undone Back Label and Info.

used to make the bars, which are assorted in a very appealing and engaging fashion and the Undone symbol which showcases the cacao bean. It’s as if they’re using the ingredients to educate buyers.

Undone’s focus on the ingredients with its advertising and labeling help to educate consumers on the importance of eating single origin organic cacao bars. As Adam notes buyers are interested in what they’re eating. Undone’s knowledge base with reaching out to customers helps to resolve cacao chain problems in a salient and transparent standpoint. Undone with the displaying of its ingredients both in image and words on its labels help demystify chocolate making process with presenting the ingredients.

It also helps to de-exotic cacao with not closely associating it with its country of origin. On Amano chocolate bars containing 70% cacao their wrapper labels features ominously dark colors alludes to its Ghanaian origins ‘invoking an ominous fear.’ It also exoticized the location featuring specific West African locations. (Leissle 2013, pp.26-27) Whereas with Undone the labeling is bright neutral covered reflecting the ingredients. It uses a cardiogram symbol, and the naming of the ingredients is different from other companies in naming the health and nutritive qualities. ‘It is like the name of vitamin water invoking the feeling it promotes’ according to co-founder Kristen. (Sidman 2015, p.2)

Part IV. Artisanship Equipment.

The resourceful and innovative artisanship with the facilities and equipment is the additional factor that Undone instrumental to organically resourceful to resolving cacao chain problems. Undone applies a lot of innovative equipment to its establishment. This includes Indian style grinders that grind the cacao or utilizing the space in Union Kitchen. Adam took up carpentry studying at Cornell and picked up useful process based skills. (Benderly 2016, p.1) As he said chocolate making and repurposing requires a lot of creativity with the remaking of machines.

Undone’s measure with the revamping of equipment helps to resolve cacao chain problems with resourcefulness. Revamping equipment and applying historical artisanal methods creates an ongoing progress of cacao production with resilience and improvisation. Undone as a smaller start up company reflects the issues that small bean-to-bar companies face with starting their own business. (Martin 2016) Undone also helps to organically resolve cacao-chain issues in a connective way by using artisanal measures to reach out to the community. (Martin 2016) I realized this when I received my Undone bar from Adam and given a tour of the facility. US small manufacturers of chocolate ‘pride themselves on changing the world with direct transparent trade, and building their businesses in the European artisanal fashion of reaching out to local communities through quality tasting experiences.’ (Eber 2012, p.156)

 Image Links

Image 1: http://tech.co/4-startups-sweet-tooth-2015-12

Image 2: http://realeverydaybusiness.com/reb017-chocolate-making-and-food-incubators-with-adam-kavalier/

Image 3: https://www.washingtonian.com/2015/02/12/how-to-pick-healthy-valentines-day-chocolates/

Image 4: http://www.ecogrounds.com/source

Image 5: scanned document

 

Sources 

Benderly, Beryl Lieff. 2016. “From flavonoids to Flavor.” Science AAAS. doi: 10.1126/science.caredit.a1600019.

Crawford, Elizabeth. 2015. “Undone Chocolate sources cacao direct trade to ensure high quality “. William Reed Business Media Accessed May 1, 2016. http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Manufacturers/Undone-Chocolate-sources-cacao-direct-trade-to-ensure-quality.

Eber, Pam Williams & Jim. 2012. “Raising the Bar The Future of Fine Chocolate ” In To Market, To Market: Craftsmanship, Customer Education, and Flavor 143-209. Vancouver Wilmor Publishing Corp. .

Healy, Kevin. 2001. “Cacao Bean Farmers Make a Chocolate Covered Development Climb ” In Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate: Multicultural Grassroots Development in the Andes and Amazon of Bolivia 123-154. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

Intelligentsia. 2016. “Mission; Purposing Principles.” Accessed April 24, 2016. http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/content/direct-trade.

Jacob, Allyson. 2014. “Two-ingredient craft chocolate maker moves into Union Kitchen.” [website]. Elevation DC Accessed May 1, 2016. http://www.elevationdcmedia.com/innovationnews/undone_chocolate_12122014.aspx.

Krystal, Becky. 2015. “Washington’s craft chocolate industry continues to grow.” Washington Post Accessed April 24, 2016. https://http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/washingtons-craft-chocolate-industry-continues-to-grow/2015/02/09/3b6329b6-a8ac-11e4-a06b-9df2002b86a0_story.html.

Leissle, Kristy. 2013. “Invisible West Arica: The Politics of Single Origin Chocolate ” Gastronomica: Journal of Food and Culture 13 (3):22-31.

Martin, Carla D. 2016. Final Lecture: Lecture 11. In AAAS E 119, edited by Harvard Extension School: Harvard Extension School.

Presilla, Maricel. 2009. The new taste of chocolate revised: a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Sidman, Jessica. 2015. “Meet D.C.’s First Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers.” Accessed April 14, 2016. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/…/meet-d-c-s-first...

Undone. 2016. “Undone Chocolate.” Accessed April 24, 2016. http://www.undonechocolate.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

David vs. Goliath- the emerging market of small bean-to-bar chocolate makers and how packaging plays an important role

The competition in the chocolate industry isn’t as linear as it used to be with only the ‘big boys’: Cadbury, Nestle, Ferrero, Mars and Hershey, sharing territory and profits. This age has seen the introduction of a more diverse group of craft bean-to bar-chocolate makers. There is a niche in the market for this small group but first, they are tasked with prying away the ‘cradle to the grave’ brand loyalists from the big five. One apparent way that has evidenced itself in the way these competing David’s against the Goliath’s of the chocolate industry has shown itself, is through careful and innovative packaging. Bearing that in mind, this paper will look at various ways packaging influences consumerism and how it has made a former monopoly into a battle ground for the most creative minds.

Arguably, these companies do not have the disposable budget that is privileged to the big chocolate companies with regards to advertising. Therefore, they resort to a more packaging focused marketing tactic which is a cheaper and effective method that has a targeted and far reaching aspect to it. Specifically, packaging has three unique aspects of it that can influence consumerism and increase sales. 1) Packaging can be used to target impulse buyers not only by using promotional cues but most specifically, visual cues- students are found to be highly influenced by visuals. 2) Packaging is cheap and effective and when done correctly, allows the product to sell itself without much intervention. 3) Packaging can also be used as a tool for social and cultural consciousness. With the rise in interest of bridging gaps culturally in the face of increased globalization, chocolate packaging can be used as a tool to promote these ideals and garner patrons via shared ideologies.

The big chocolate companies over the last couple of years have kept packaging changes to a bare minimum because they have created a bond with their consumers where it is easy to spot a Snicker bar or M&M’s package from a mile away. These companies have relied on the ability of the consumer to recognize their package and help in sustaining sales. This is not so with the growing contenders in the chocolate industry. They do not have the recognizable packaging that these companies have established over the years. In order to break this boundary bean-to-bar chocolate makers have paid specific attention to packaging to target impulse buyers.

The moment one walks into a store, there is a small window of time for purchases that are on one’s list but majority of other purchases are impulse based buying. “81% of in store purchases are due to impulse buying, with a vast majority of these purchases being the design that catches the consumer’s eye” (Saka 2011). Within this small period of time and amidst a plethora of competition, these small chocolate companies are provided the opportunity to draw the attention of an impulse buyer or even a brand loyalist based on an elaborate packaging that peeks the interest of the consumer. The function of packaging design “has now transitioned into a primary tool used by organizations to make its presence felt in a crowd and sell products at point of purchase” (Saka 2011). Tying into the four P’s of marketing, packaging has now been contended as the fifth P, “Because it has now become an integral element of the modern lifestyle and the branding process” (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014).

The power of packaging based marketing with regards to product placement has garnered a momentum that cannot be denied, not only in the chocolate industry but across the board. It is so essential in the chocolate industry however because chocolate is such a high impulse purchase. Majority of consumers usually do not go into food stores with chocolate on their ‘To purchase’ list, it is something that we generally are persuaded to buy. A scientific study done to show the influence of packaging cues, found that students were greatly influenced in purchasing chocolate based on visual cues alone (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014).  This find is not surprising because the major consumers of chocolate are the younger generation as opposed to the older ones. This generation is also easily influenced to abandon brand loyalty for whatever happens to be ‘trending’ at the moment. The attention of the younger chocolate consumers can easily be persuaded by strategically placed cues.

There are various aspects of visual cues but the strongest draw to the subconscious is color and shape. “Color is the most important tool for emotional expression of a package because it reflects an image for the product” (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014). According to Jenn David Connolly, Color in food packaging is so important because it leverages our emotional connection to taste (Connolly 2013). To expound on this, she expresses what several colors denote in food packaging with Red and Yellow taking the chief lead in fast food industry packaging. Orange is said to be an appetizing color, white connotes clean and pure, brown and earth tones symbolize warm, appetizing, wholesome and natural, bright colors shows a pop in flavors and subdued-muted colors are for rich and deep complex flavors (Connolly 2013). Often times several colors can also influence our tastes, for instance, orange is usually associated with citrus, off white with vanilla and red with strawberry, this association of color with taste, ties into the “associational aspect of color” (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014).

The chocolate to a belgian recipe
The Chocolate to A Belgian Recipe. The peaches on the packaging signifies that the chocolate is “peach” flavored.

Shape is another visual cue that also influences the mind. “The shape of a package is normally the first thing a consumer notices in a store, an old fashioned shape of a package could suggest reliability and maturity to the consumer” (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014). The L.A Burdick chocolate package shape and color was so influential in persuading me to purchase my first chocolate bar from the chocolatier and I have since returned weekly ever since. There was something trusting in the brown, earthy envelope like package that assured me that this was a brand I could trust and the chocolate would be equally as sophisticated. The stamp visible in the front of the package had a personal feel as if the chocolate bar was specifically made for me.

LA burdick chocolate
The old fashioned look of the L.A Burdick chocolate packing makes it more trusting.

In the situation of an impulsive buy, the intention to purchase is determined by what is communicated at the point of purchase, the package is a critical factor in the decision making process because it influences purchase decisions (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014). The shape of a chocolate bar can also influence the way it tastes as Cadbury would rudely discover when it attempted to change “the rectangular chunks to carved segments” (Miller 2015), the company received a huge backlash of protest for their efforts. Packaging is a cheap and powerful method of marketing that is slowly changing what chocolate brands consumers patronize, “because it makes a difference in our subconscious mind in what gets noticed and eventually purchased” (smartmarketing n.d.).

The power behind successful packaging lies in its ability to allow the product sell itself. It has an extrinsic value to it because the information on the package is taken into account when deciding whether to purchase or not (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014). Packaging allows bean-to bar companies to cut their costs and get their brands out into the market without resorting to advertising. In certain ways, advertising can be limiting because it requires the perfect time slot or location for a billboard or a particular commercial to air on television. A good package is not burdened with these limitations, it has a “wider reach and has strong potential to engage majority of the target market. For a package to be effective it does however need to meet a few requirements. The package needs to be “attractive, informative and also identify with the product; it also needs to continuously communicate the product’s real benefits and create awareness to ensure image and brand preference” (Shekhar and Raveendran 2014).

Packaging is more influential than advertising because it clearly stimulates emotions in the consumer that advertising is not able to pull out. In purchasing decisions, the ability to see, feel and touch easily outshines the strategically filmed commercial any day. The human mind is exceptionally influenced when majority of the senses can be used to influence decisions. Packaging is no longer perceived as a method for safe and effective way to transport a product, but has now become a “contributing factor to its marketability, a vividly beautiful product, to some extent, develops a positive image about it in the minds of the consumers” (Vartak 2013). During the chocolate tasting in the Chocolate Class that held this semester, I was influenced by the artful way in which the Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate packaging was constructed and it seemed to amplify the taste of the chocolate.

dick taylor chocolate
Simplicity of Dick Taylor packaging allows one to focus on the chocolate itself.

The innovation that goes into packaging that clearly shows itself in the world of bean-to-bar chocolate makers today, is one that is clearly missing in the big chocolate companies; this ability to influence has however not gone unnoticed by them.  As of recent, Godiva has changed its packaging and has started marketing ‘specialty’ brands clearly aimed at consumers that are influenced by package based marketing

With the ever growing list of brands in the chocolate industry, loyalty for brand choice is fast becoming a dying era. Consumers are now resorting to more of an impulse buying and are eager to try new products prompting companies to spend more time on packaging based research to add value to their product via means of innovative packaging (Vartak 2013). With the aspect of packaging that leans on brand loyalty based on recognition, it is pertinent to small bean-to-bar chocolate owners to invest in this method of marketing to influence product sales. Not only does the package need to be attractive, it must also be recognizable in order to compete in a fast widening industry.

Gone are the days that consumers are ignorant about the source of their cacao that is sourced to make their chocolate. With increased awareness that has stemmed from globalization, people are more savvy with these  issues and in the face of a pressing need to bridge social and cultural gaps, packaging is used to create an awareness in ways that it never did before. For certain bean-to bar chocolate makers, this is an opportunity that they have already tapped into. The Divine chocolate advertising ploy of featuring women cocoa farmers in their chocolate packaging was a brilliant way to initiate conversation about the binary that has plagued Africa from time immemorial. “In their depiction of women cocoa farmers as glamorous business owners, the images provide a fresh visual re-framing of goods and capital between Africa and Europe and a contrast to postcolonial literature on state capital formations in Africa” (Leissle 2012). In this evocative marketing strategy, it additionally attempts to bridge the cultural gap between Africa as this ‘other’ and the Western world as the ‘isolationist’ that has made it so.

Divine Chocolate
Divine Chocolate
uses women cocoa farmers in ad campaign

Using the women farmers as models was also an effective way of injecting women into the conversation of cacao farming in a way that previously has not been a conversation point. It invites viewers to see women as potent actors in the world of cacao sourcing and chocolate making in addition to being beneficiaries of these same exchanges (Leissle 2012). Another chocolate maker that has followed a similar part is Camino chocolate, “the word Camino stands for “path”, the chocolate packaging futures an intricate design of quirky-named streets with illustrations reflecting the happy, vibrant and sustainable communities’ that Camino supports through its fair trade practices”(Canadian Packaging Staff 2011).

Camino Chocolate
Camino Chocolate
Street paths and names outlined in packaging

Camino chocolate has tapped into packaging as a way to create social awareness of cacao sourcing and the communities that are sustained by this arrangement, thereby aptly informing chocolate consumers with regards to the origins of cacao used to produce their chocolate.

Through the use of innovative packaging, bean-to-bar chocolate companies are now able to influence consumers and create brand loyalty with their product. As the chocolate industry continues to evolve, it will be greatly interesting to see how the ‘big boys’ of chocolate push back against this marketing tactic. It is no longer enough to ply consumers with advertisements, people are becoming a lot more informed about the products they choose to consume and packaging is used as an influential tool in a way advertising is simply unable to do. As more bean-to- bar companies emerge, there will also be a rise in competition between these companies and at that time, perhaps the influence of packaging will need to be re-valuated and perhaps tweaked in other ways. For now, it is clear that the ‘big five’ have competition knocking on their doorstep and it would be ill advised to ignore it. Packaging is the next big thing and it has already arrived for many.

Bibliography

Burdick, L.A. n.d.

Canadian Packaging Staff. 2011. “Social Consciousness right on the package.” canadianpackaging.com. January 28. Accessed May 6, 2016. http://www.canadianpackaging.com/general/social-consciousness-right-on-the-package-21742/.

Connolly, Jenn David. 2013. Colors That Influence Food Sales. September. Accessed May 6, 2016. http://jenndavid.com/colors-that-influence-food-sales/.

http://www.lasiembra.com/camino/en/chocolate-bars/almonds. n.d. “Camino Chocolate.”

Leissle, Kristy. 2012. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisments.” Journal of African Cultural Studies (Routledge) (24:2): 121-139. Accessed May 6, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2012.736194.

Miller, Meg. 2015. “How Packaging Influences The Way We Taste Food.” fastcodedesign.com. October 27. Accessed May 6, 2016. http://www.fastcodesign.com/3052745/evidence/how-packaging-influences-the-way-we-taste-food.

Mosina, Olga. n.d. “The chocolate to a belgian recipe.”

Saka, Kwadwo Emmanuel. 2011. The Design of Packaging Graphics for the Expansion of Ghanian Chocolate Products. Graduate Dissertation, Digital Depository Iowa State University.

Shekhar, Suraj Kushe, and P.T Raveendran. 2014. “The Power of Sensation Transference: Chocolate Packages & Impulse Purchases.” Indian Institute of managment Indore 1-10.

smartmarketing. n.d. “How Can Packaging Increase Sales.” smartmarketingasia. Accessed May 6, 2016. http://www.smartmarketingasia.com/how-can-packaging-increase-sales/.

Vartak, Darshan. 2013. “Branding And Packaging For The Globalized Market.” packagedesignmag.com. October 18. Accessed May 5, 2016. http://www.packagedesignmag.com/news-from-our-readers/branding-and-packaging-for-the-globalized-market.

W, Brigette. 2015. “Dick Taylor Takes Chocolate Back To Its Roots.” February 7.

 

 

 

 

 

I, Taza Chocolate

A Bean-to-Bar Review of the Taza Chocolate Initiative and Alternatives

The first portion of this essay is modeled after the classic 1958 Leonard E. Read economic treatise, I, Pencil, as applied to the modern production chain of the Taza Chocolate Company. Following this ascription, the analysis moves on to compare the Taza model to that of Dandelion in San Francisco and the Hershey Company, citing major differences.

i-pencilIn his essay, Read details a global trade system from the point of view of a playfully personified pencil, describing the millions of hands that contributed to its “edification” and espousing the miraculous virtue of the modern capitalist supply chain (Read). While Taza Chocolate reflects several elements of the pencil manufacturing process described in the Read essay, Taza has developed its own processes within the broader capitalist system, at times contradicting those ascribed by Read, forging its own unique logistics chain with a refreshingly human element ripe for imitation.

I, Taza Chocolate

I am a piece of Taza chocolate – the stone-ground delicious triangle familiar to a sliver of boys, girls, and adults across New England.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery – more so than the Snickers or the Hershey bars beside me. But sadly, I am sometimes taken for granted by those who enjoy me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude unfairly relegates me to the level of commonplace.

I, Taza Chocolate, simple though I appear, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me, become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach, and I can teach this lesson better than can an iPhone or an airplane, precisely because I am seemingly so “simple.”

Simple? Yes, because a single person on the face of this earth can make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when you take into account that three billion pounds of chocolate are consumed in the U.S.A. each year (Martin).

Pick me up and give me a sniff. What do you see? Not much meets the eye – there’s a wrapper citing some foreign land and various certifications, some grainy brown substance. But give me a taste and I’ll explain.

InNumerable Antecedents

Unlike you who cannot trace your family tree back very far, it is quite possible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and simplicity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a Theobroma cacao tree that grows in Bolivia. There, deep in the woods of this Central American nation, the tree of my primary ingredient and member of the Sterculiaceae family, takes root. A fickle specimen, my cacao tree requires meticulous care, attention, and skill to bear her fruit (Coe and Coe 19). She requires special growing conditions including partial ground cover, partial shade, and even special pollinating insects called midges to bloom. Once tended to correctly, the cacao tree flowers directly from the trunk (exhibiting the rare reproduction method known as cauliflory) and I am born of her warty-edged pod.

After a few weeks of ripening, I am plucked from her branches, my beans separated from each other to expose a whitish, sour pulp. I am left in the sun to ferment, heating up to nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit as bacteria attack this pulp. During this time, the flavor within my beans transforms and develops the delicious melody of tastes that make me so delectable (Coe and Coe 17-30). Please note that throughout the process so far, only one or two people have contributed to my production.

Now contemplate the tools used by one of those people, in particular, Jorge, a laborer with the Alto Beni Cacao Company. To remove me from my branch to begin my trip north requires only two tools: a pruner and bucket. With these humble beginnings, I am transported back to the main building at Palos Blancos to join other freshly-harvested pods (Taza 10). At this facility, I am fermented, dried and prepared for the next step of my journey.

The next part of my journey is the least uniform, strictest, and most subject to market forces: transportation from Belize to America. Typically, I am packaged in jute or sisal bags of up to 100 kg (TIS). The owners at Taza have implemented a fair trade program where my farmers are paid at least $500 per metric ton over the daily market value, a measure they feel ensures quality (Ailworth). Once sold, a truck takes me to a coastal port where I am loaded to a ventilated container which must have a clean and dry wooden flooring. Very specific moisture concentration must be adhered to, and it’s even recommended to use a two-layer anti-condensation film to provide protection against dripping sweat (TIS). Cool, dry, good ventilation are key throughout this moderate temperature yet exciting trip, or else I might spoil or lose my valuable flavor! Finally, I am unloaded at a port on the east coast of the United States and travel the continent by railroad or truck to my next home: scenic Somerville, Massachusetts.

15-8577-TAZA-041In a 17000-sqaure-foot factory at 561 Windsor Street, I meet a few of Taza’s specialized workers including Kathleen, Stephanie, Jesse and Alex. They ensure that I am properly roasted, winnowed, ground, mixed, rolled, tanked, tempered, molded, and cooled (Taza). As lifetime adherents to minimal processing in line with the organic mission, these steps leverage only 10 separate machines, parts of which are even made and maintained by hand in the factory.

Taza_Chocolate_Making_Process

Arguably, the most striking trait of mine is my “grit.” I get this from the old-fashioned processes employed at the Taza factory, where workers shape the stones used to grind me by hand (sometimes with less than stellar results). In fact, the owner still carves the millstones by hand, using a “chisel and hand-held grinder to etch each one” (Ailworth). From the stone mills, or “molinos”, I retain my “bright, fruity” flavors which most processing methods tend to mask or remove (Taza). And all together, this yields a bold, rustic and satisfyingly gritty palate pleaser.

A final stop along my journey might include the addition of added flavorings. Such unusual flourishes include raspberry, vanilla, chili peppers, guajillo peppers, red peppers, cinnamon, coffee, salted almond, cracked pepper, chipotle, toffee, hazelnut, figs and even chai tea (Taza). A quick trip down the recently installed automatic wrapper, and finally, I emerge the brown, gritty disk of bittersweet joy in your hand (Ailworth).

No Master Mind

There is a fact still more astounding within my genesis: the presence of a mastermind, of someone orchestrating and collaborating these countless actions which bring me into being. He can be found at our headquarters: Alex Whitmore.

whitmoreWhitmore, 37 years old, is a life-long Bostonian, having been born in the city and even living on the Harbor for a number of years (Luna). An alum of the successful car-sharing business Zipcar, Whitmore was no stranger to the startup environment when he founded Taza Chocolate in 2005. Finding inspiration during a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, he has grown Taza to its current 58-employee team in just over a decade. His little enterprise now hawks 40 products at over 2800 retail locations throughout New England and North America (Ailworth).

It has been said that “only God can make a tree.” And, with a little help from my friends at Taza, I transform from that tree to a delicious treat in your hand. I, Taza Chocolate, am a complex combination of miracles, an embodiment of the dozens of tiny know-hows conspiring together under Alex Whitmore’s vision and direction. While only God can make a tree, it only takes a few men to fully make me.

Testimony Galore

If I, Taza Chocolate, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore: 300,000 pounds of me per year, to be precise (Ailworth). The lesson I teach is this: leave all creative energies uninhibited, but pay a fair price to all. While free market capitalism typically decries any notion of command economies and the inefficiencies they typically create, the free market system is in fact made up of miniature command economies. We call them firms. General Electric, Microsoft, Bank of America, and even your favorite food truck are small-scale command economies, just like Taza, who decide where to allocate resources and what prices to pay for inputs. Taza has simply bent those rules a little bit, paying more to and developing relations with its suppliers.

As you can see, dozens of hands fastidiously participate in my great journey across the globe, forging me into the delicious product I am today. But my story is not one of purely profit-motivated free market triumph. Instead, it is a tale of cooperation and collective good. The people I meet along the way are treated fairly, compensated for their contributions, and genuinely happy with the results. As Mintz argues, “a human being is not an object, even when treated as one.” We should, therefore, return to that “absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people” (Read). I, Taza Chocolate, have embarked on this mission.

I, Taza Chocolate, am a complex combination of miracles.

I merit your wonder and awe.

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While the preceding essay adaptation provided a detailed look at the intricate chocolate-making process and Taza Chocolate’s refusal to adhere to more traditional market behavior and production processes, it leaves a number of questions ripe for exploration. As Kristy Leissle argues that the place of manufacture of chocolate has become “more important to appreciating chocolate than the place of origin of the beans,” has Taza missed out on additional opportunities to provide a quality product? To that end, how does the Taza process compare to that of a more mass produced product, such as the Hershey or Snickers bars it derides as commonplace? Next, how does it compare to other small-scale chocolatiers’ processes? And are there other sources from which Taza could draw that are currently overlooked?

Founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey, the Hershey Company of Hershey, Pennsylvania is a $7.4 billion agglomeration of factories, theme parks, retail stores and, of course, candy. Known for its syrups, chocolate bars, Reese’s cups and, most importantly, Kisses, Hershey has grown to one of the most recognizable brands in America. So, how does one make a Kiss?

The Hershey Company’s production process has many of the same elements as the Taza Chocolate process but on a much larger, arguably more impersonal scale. The cacao beans, from any of hundreds of farms across West Africa, are unceremoniously purchased at exact market rates (the Big Five chocolate companies make the rates), boarded on large cargo vessels, and arrive in North America for transport to the Hershey plant in Pennsylvania. From there, they are processed similarly to the cacao beans from South America, but on a much larger scale.

However, it is interesting to note that on the Hershey website in the food philosophy section, Hershey espouses that they are “committed to making our products using simple ingredients… you might find in your kitchen” (Hershey). The simple chart below illustrates these simple ingredients. Clearly, the ingredients listed are simple, and what a consumer should expect in her chocolate: cocoa, nuts, milk and sugar. But, if these components make up 80% of the product, what is the remaining 20%?

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The processing and additives Hershey includes at this point are what truly make the difference between it and Taza or Dandelion Chocolate. Ingredients to improve “flavors, aromas, textures and appearance” and decrease cost, are included at this point, leading to the ascription of “ultra-processed” (Hershey). This term, defined by Samira Kawash as “foods processed so far beyond their original form as to be better described as fabricated rather than grown” is a fair description for the Hershey’s product, which is then distributed throughout the world (Kawash 26).

To provide an idea of the scale of the Hershey production line, the shipping center, in particular, makes for an interesting case study. In a behemoth warehouse in Lebanon, PA, the sales fulfillment distribution center (DC), supplies 1400 sales representatives with the product throughout the country (Partridge). This team, in its industrialized “continual quest for process improvement,” measures its productivity in defects per million opportunities (only 3.4), lines shipped per hour, and orders picked per hershey productionworker. The dehumanization of this process stands in strict apposition to that of Taza Chocolate, as workers at Hershey are treated as interchangeable pieces, floor managers as faceless overseers. If these employees fail to reach their DPMO target number, contingency plans focused on, mobile “robotic drive units with a software system that outputs control instructions” can be leveraged. These machines would ramp up to replace warehouse staff by 25 percent, or 1.5 full-time employees (Partridge). All this analysis and dehumanization yield the Lebanon warehouse an average savings of $45,000 per year in labor costs. At the risk of understatement, this behavior is vastly different from that seen in the Taza Chocolate process. But how does their process relate to a more direct competitor, such as Dandelion Chocolate?

Located across the country from Somerville in a similarly startup-saturated city, Dandelion Chocolate calls San Francisco’s Mission District home. Founded by Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring in 2010, Dandelion’s process follows a similar path to fruition. Once imported, their beans are roasted, cracked, sorted, winnowed, ground, conched and tempered in small batches, before being molded and packaged by hand (Dandelion). While a source report akin to that provided by Taza is unavailable, Dandelion appears to follow a process akin to that of Taza, traveling to meet its suppliers as frequently as possible to “build strong relationships with partners” (Dandelion). These strong relationships form the basis for the Dandelion business model, as the management team takes great pride in their sources.

Further research into the business fundamentals of the smaller companies which might be included in a publicly traded forum or within an annual or quarterly prospectus detailing revenue, debt, acquisitions, overhead, and additional standard accounting practices might yield a clearer picture into the affordability of the smaller companies’ viability of their models. Because the Hershey Company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (HSY), and valued at $22.24 billion as of May 2016, we can see that its model is successful by capitalist measurements: a profit margin of nearly 7% on $7.4 billion of revenue leads to a healthy company. However, in keeping with the chocolate industry’s tradition of secrecy, neither of the smaller firms produces such a report, and therefore leaves the public guessing as to the business’s robustness and viability.

Finally, analyzing the Taza Chocolate production method itself, the company has chosen to limit its sourcing scope to South and Middle America. A reasonable business decision considering geographic realities, Taza has chosen to limit its logistics chain to operations between Somerville and the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Belize and Guatemala (Taza). However, quality cacao exists beyond the Western Hemisphere.

As exhibited in the Hershey Company’s supply chain, West Africa is the preeminent sourcing destination for raw cacao, supplying over 70% of global output (Leissle 22). While Big Five chocolate makers managed to dissociate chocolate from cacao for most American consumers, single origin producers such as Taza have grown in popularity over the past few years in direct contrast to this fabricated ignorance (Leissle 23). West African suppliers have been left out of this boom for small-scale chocolate makers, mostly, Leissle argues, for political reasons or to assuage the large-scale producers’ concerns. By overlooking West Africa, the artisan manufacturers in North America are more than simply missing the opportunity to expand their flavor offerings: they are perpetuating the idea of inferiority of the West African product. If American chocolate makers opened supply lines featuring beans from Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, for example, this perception might change. While certain small areas of Africa such as Madagascar have broken into the single source market, much of the continent’s potential remains untapped. The positive results of single source work in South America might be emulated in Africa, whose poverty, public health and social structure are, at best, on par with those of South and Central America.

Surprisingly, in advance of the smaller chocolate makers, the Hershey Company has launched a campaign to adjust its West African supply chain. In an effort to purchase more sustainable cacao, Hershey has launched an initiative to buy solely UTZ, Fairtrade USA or Rainforest Alliance certified cacao by the year 2020. This is an outstanding, if a small step, as Hershey uses some of its $1.2 billion free cash to invest in the livelihood and sustainability of its farmers in West Africa (Yahoo).

The world of chocolate manufacturing, both large and small, is evolving to place more emphasis on its raw ingredients. As both Taza and Dandelion base their businesses on their intimate cacao sourcing, the larger firms to include Hershey’s are slowly adapting as well. Within the larger capitalist model, Taza Chocolate has created a niche to exploit, focusing on the human element of its supply chain as opposed to the purely profit motivated system hailed by Read’s original essay.

So far, it’s a recipe for success.

tazamain_1

Works Cited

“About Us.” Dandelion Chocolate. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.dandelionchocolate.com/about/#anchor&gt;.

Ailworth, Erin. “A Sweet, but Familiar Story in Mass. Manufacturing – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. The Boston Globe, 22 May 2013. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/05/21/sweet-but-familiar-story-mass-manufacturing/xuThZGcdPFNpjxkyD8h50N/story.html&gt;.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.

Higgs, Catherine. Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012. Print.

Leissle, Kristy. “Invisible West Africa.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 13.3 (2013): 22-31. Web.

Luna, Taryn. “Seven Things You Should Know about Alex Whitmore.” Boston Globe, 11 May 2014. Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/05/10/seven-things-you-should-know-about-alex-whitmore-taza-chocolate/i0cB10YJdMejE58BLkUXrI/story.html&gt;.

Martin, Carla. “AAAS E-119 Lecture 7: The Rise of Big Chocolate and Race for the Global Market.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. 2016. Lecture.

Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, NY: Viking, 1985. Print.

Partridge, Amy Roach. “With Six Sigma, Hershey’s Kisses Errors Goodbye.” – Inbound Logistics. Inbound Logistics, Apr. 2006. Web. 11 May 2016. <http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/with-six-sigma-hersheys-kisses-errors-goodbye/&gt;.

Read, Leonard. “I, Pencil: My Family Tree.” Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc, 1958. Pamphlet.

The Hershey Company. “Cocoa Sustainability.” Web. 11 May 2016. <https://www.thehersheycompany.com/en_us/responsibility/good-business/creating-goodness/cocoa-sustainability.html&gt;.

The Hershey Company. “Simple Ingredients.” Web. 11 May 2016.<https://www.thehersheycompany.com/en_us/food-philosophy/simple-ingredients.html&gt;

“The Hershey Company.” Yahoo! Finance. Yahoo, Web. 11 May 2016. <http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=HSY&gt;.

 

Bean-to-bar: Blue Bandana Chocolates

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Figure 1. Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker part of Lake Champlain Chocolates. (2014). Little Brown. Image available from https://vimeo.com/85700650

The company that I chose to learn more about for our final multimedia presentation is Lake Champlain Chocolates (LCC). It is in my home state of Vermont, at the far extreme end of the state from where I live. Though the company has been in operation since 1983, my personal reference is family friends who proudly lived near the company, would purchase gorgeous LCC gourmet signature truffles, onsite, and present them to my chocolate loving grandmother as a very special gift. While I see the company’s label on an expanded product line and in many stores now, only after this bit of research did I realize that Lake Champlain Chocolates had expanded so much—as their website states, they have180 employees and their chocolate products can be purchased in some 2,000 stores– I was also thrilled that an LCC representative agreed to make an appointment with me to answer questions regarding where and how they source their cacao, and the company’s certifications, specifically Fair Trade and Fair for Life: third-party certification for social accountability and fair trade (Figure 2).

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Figure 2. What Fair Trade Means. “In March 2013, our chocolate company earned Fair for Life–Social & Fair TradeCertification. Fair for Life is a rigorous third-party certification for social accountability and fair trade. Above and beyond Fair Trade certification, it looks at a company’s practices as a whole, including the ingredients used in its products.” Retrieved from http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/about-us/fair-trade-chocolate

Between my phone interview and the company’s online presence, I learned a great deal including that in 2012, they began creating bean-to-bar in their new Blue Bandana Chocolate division http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/about-us/bean-to-bar-chocolate/  that won them a national Good Food award in 2014 (Figure 3).

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Figure 3. Blue Bandana Chocolate is Lake Champlain Chocolates’ bean-to-bar division started in 2012 and winner of the Good Food award in 2014. Cacao nibs shown here being poured into grinder in preparation for making cocoa liquor. Retrieved from http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/about-us/bean-to-bar-chocolate/

So, this was a great opportunity to get to better understand a company within my own state, hear first hand some of what this most recent bean-to–bar division is all about and within the ethnographic context covered in class and course readings. As Blue Bandana Chocolate builds off of the success of their highly regarded parent company LCC, they strive for transparency in the supply chain, create direct relationships with their sources, and support sustainable practices while supporting local communities.

Their product descriptions are as mouthwatering as they are educational: location/sourcing and sustainable ventures are a significant part of this story.

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Attention to quality that impacts flavor is referenced throughout, including terroir, a link in the quality chain that can be loosely translated as a “sense of place” but that include characteristics and qualities whose sum effects influence the product, such as the geography and climate of an area and the plant’s genetics. Their advertisements state that,

“Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker is a micro-batch branded product line of Lake

Champlain Chocolates (LCC) founded on the principles of quality, transparency,

taste of place, and the craft of making chocolate. Inspired by his first trip to a cocoa

farm in 2009, founder Eric Lampman delved into the chocolate process and began

experimenting with test batches to perfect the basics. After experimenting with

cocoa beans from six different countries, Lampman settled on three exceptional

chocolates: Madagascar 70%, Guatemala 70% and Madagascar Wild Pepper. They

are made from scratch using only cocoa beans, organic cocoa butter and organic

cane sugar. Each 2.3oz bar is a representation of Lampman’s personal mission to

craft the finest chocolates while celebrating the unique taste of the earth native to

each cacao’s landscape” (Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker, 2016).

Sense of place as discussed in class and course readings (Martin, April 20, 2016) are well represented here, and it was enjoyable to get a deeper sense of this company’s values and commitments.

Some of what comes through quite clearly in Blue Bandana Chocolate’s mission is the desire to learn and innovate, the inspiration from the regions where their cacao is grown, the appreciation for not only the craft of making a quality product, but also to do so within the context of community, both at home in Northern Vermont and in the farming communities where their cacao is sourced. These motivating forces are evident in their product development and certifications; it was clear in my interview with the company representative, and illustrated nicely on the company website, onsite videos and other online interviews. Eric captures so much about the world of chocolate, in his quote,

“American chocolate has for years been presented as consistent and predictable. As a

new craft chocolate maker, we see the beauty in the process of displaying unique

characteristics. We are part of a renaissance of bean-to-bar chocolate makers that are

taking new approaches to things like process, scale, flavor, relationships, and

transparency” (Meet Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker, 2015).

This historical context, and the founder’s perspective on their company is encouraging and expands upon their marketer’s [beautiful] alluring depictions of bird sanctuaries. As a member of the bean-to-bar movement, Blue Bandana Chocolate can be considered to be part of the solution to problems that we have studied in the cacao-chocolate supply chain in our course (Off, 2006; Ryan, 2011; Sylla, 2014; Martin, March 8, 2016; Martin, March 30, 2016; Martin, April 6, 2016). The following expert from the LCC website explains, for instance, their involvement in improving lives within the cacao communities in Cote d’Ivoire through The Family Support Scholarship Program, detailed below, but that includes addressing issues like expanding business opportunities for women, increasing education and school retention rates, reducing the amount of child labor, and impacting longer term benefits/opportunities, directly and indirectly, in these cacao communities.

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As the LCC representative explained to me on the phone, bean-to-bar was a very natural progression for the three decades old company. Their product line expanded to include organic cocoa and Kosher chocolate products which were wildly popular. Locally, LCC and Blue Bandana have a strong community connection as Figure 7 indicates. This includes many affiliations within the state including membership within the Vermont Business for Social Responsibility.

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In addition, however, it has a broader connection and base of support with the locavore movement across the nation, innovation in creating quality craft products, The following video, filmed onsite at the Burlington, Vermont food festival helps illustrate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0n9n7HQ3_A

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This innovation might not succeed without a groundswell of support by customers, and a customer base that is desirous of responsibly sourced products not just in Vermont but across the country. In the following quote, the founder explains the company’s goals and the alignment of all these that lead to the innovation of Blue Bandana chocolate:

“As a family-owned company, we decided that we wanted to directly support a cacao

growing community – whether or not we purchased cacao from them. The chance to

engage with passionate cacao farmers searching for new market opportunities and

farming methods fell right into place with our own goals. We were hoping to build

new relationships that both educated us on post-harvest practices and enabled a win-

win partnership for future growth focused on quality. Today, we continue to use our

interactions with the farmers to educate visitors at our factory about cacao farming

and the full process of making chocolate” (Meet Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker,

2015).

In addition to community affiliations identified above, Figure 9 offers a snapshot of what LCC means by “Local to Global” in their chocolate company. For instance, developing their own source of honey from their own beekeeping near their business in Northern Vermont, to purchasing third party certified Fair Trade chocolate that has resulted in Fair for Life-Social and Fair Trade Certifications. Furthermore, LLC continues to develop direct partnerships with cacao growers and supports a fund, previously mentioned, in Cote d’Ivoire to educate youth and empower women with a World Cocoa Foundation scholarship.

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This is a compelling image and message that LLC is promoting. Through coursework, we have been encouraged to look deeper and not just get carried away by a company’s projected image and storyline or even blithely accept the certifications they may have achieved to assuage our consumer guilt; this course has encouraged/demanded that we be more aware and accountable consumers. So, while issues within the cacao supply chain are complex, I appreciate all the concrete examples LCC provides to show what/how this company is living up to its ideals.

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The telephone interview offered details that both helped explain LLC sourcing as well as illuminate the many complexities of growing and sourcing cacao. When I asked the representative where Lake Champlain Chocolates sources their cacao, he replied that that was a big question; he followed up by saying that they source from many places and offered specifics including from his first hand experience and having just returned from the Dominican Republic. He said that they basically have three different supply chains. They source cacao beans directly from an estate in Madagascar, an estate in the Dominican Republic, a social enterprise group in Guatemala and from a similar type group in Tanzania and then make bean-to-bar back home in Burlington, Vermont. He said that LCC also sources from large multinationals that does a match balance Fair Trade sourced from West Africa. He stated that they also source a Fair Trade organic fully traceable from cooperative in the Dominican Republic, as well as two cooperatives in Peru; these three co-ops all supply organic chocolates.

I asked him to tell me more about the cooperatives and the farms. He offered examples, including from his most recent trip to the Dominican Republic; this cooperative was organized with its own farmer union essentially, their own farmer fund, where the Fair Trade premium goes. They are then able to have elected officials vote on how to utilize Fair Trade premiums. He explained that they are also made up of an agro industrial arm, basically their sales arm internationally, and a tech arm too, working on many aspects like field assistance, agronomics, composting, rehabilitation of farms, helping with fermentation and drying of cacao beans, etc. His interest in these diverse geographic areas shown through as did his direct trade experience. He stated that in the Dominican Republic, Belize, Haiti, Guatemala, nearly all of those are mainly cacao but then inter-planted with anything from bananas, plantains, avocados, to other hardwoods such as mahogany, high shade structures/long term hardwoods, and short term cash crops planted among cacao to help for instance with local cash that can be obtained throughout the year, and/or even just for their own more immediate consumption. He said that he hadn’t seen any mono crops and didn’t think that LCC sourced from any.

I asked generally, how fair labor practices are generally created and insured? He replied that it is done at the farm level; operations of cooperatives are such that they pool people together, e.g. people helping one another throughout the harvest, sharing resources, and/or through advisement of each others farms, supporting a lifestyle…He added that the cooperative model is such that there’s social community support and that obviously the farmer union is a testament to that, where elected officials are help make decisions with and for the people that they live amongst. He added that some other organization may be less cooperative, more like a local farmers’ association, working with neighbors, something they have to do almost out of necessity related to economy of scale to improve the size and scale of the harvest to work with potential buyers. For instance, depending on the size of the harvest, a farmer may not be able to dry in a quality manner, or may not have economy of scale, and/or if they are looking to sell on the specialty market, may not even have the logistics to get product out. So these farmers’ groups might help with economy of scale which can also build recognition, e.g. to say, ‘hey, we’ve got a quantity, amount worth selling,’ instead of relying on a coyote who comes through offering a low price at an opportune time for themselves to buy, sell or trade off. His answers revealed the preference for local organized control, not “top down,” not one-size-fits-all, and sensitive to distinctions that a broad national approach might miss regarding how cacao is produced and sold (Martin, April 6, 2016).

Furthermore, I appreciated his reflecting upon what Fair Trade and Fair for Life meant for his company allowing them to obtain certified raw materials like sugar and where Fair Trade certifications don’t always have the traceabilty, Fair for Life offers a nice balance, and more traceability within the supply chain such as interactions with premiums. As discussed in class, Fair trade has great aspects, has made positive gains, was never meant to address/solve all supply chain problems, though promises a lot and can’t always deliver on those promises (Martin, April 6, 2016; Sylla, 2014; Ten principles of Fair Trade, 2012). I so appreciated the opportunity to learn more from the company in this way. It was encouraging to hear about the company’s culturally sensitive engagement within diverse communities where they source cacao, and their commitment to continue to work toward transparency in the cacao supply chain while supporting cacao communities. Blue Bandana can be considered to be part of the solution to problems that we have studied in the cacao-chocolate supply chain.

Issues of social justice and sustainability are complex, more research is needed, and solutions will vary according to countries and communities, as LCC seems aware of. However, what really resonated this semester is that places that have been identified as having problems may also be where real solutions can occur. As pointed out in lecture, I believe that we need to advocate for a holistic approach to solving these complex problems, recognizing that we are all implicated, simple solutions like increasing commodity pricing or certifications do not always deliver in the way that we assume and are not adequate unto themselves. Nevertheless, as consumers we do need to interrogate what is behind these solutions and consider them in context. Additionally, we need to avoid a binary perspective and recognize the complexities, doing what LCC is advocating–not rely in top down approach to solving problems while routing out prejudices and culturally inappropriate/nonwestern ideals (Martin, 2016).

References

Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker. (2012). Video available from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0n9n7HQ3_A

Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker. Image (barn) (2014). Little Brown. Image available from

https://vimeo.com/85700650

Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker in Guatemala. (2015). Available from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBDVeelXUxs

Blue Bandana teaches the taste of chocolate. (2012). Retrieved from

http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/blue-bandana-teaches-the-taste-of-

chocolate/

Lake Champlain Chocolate Introduces New Approach to Making Chocolate. (2013).

Retrieved from

https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/lake-champlain-chocolates-

introduces-new-approach-to-making-chocolate-122571/

Lake Champlain Launches new Chocolate. (October 20, 2012). Retrieved from

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/Lake-Champlain-           Chocolates-launches-Blue-Bandana/17070252

Lake Champlain’s New Blue Bandana Chocolate Bars. Retrieved from

http://www.wildrosemarketing.com/whats-new/lake-champlains-new-blue-      bandana-chocolate-bars/

Martin, C. (March 8, 2016). Lecture 8: Modern day slavery. AAAS E-119. Chocolate,

Culture, and the Politics of Food. Retrieved from Harvard University Extension

School Canvas site.

Martin, C. (March 30, 2016). Lecture 9: Race, ethnicity, gender, and class in chocolate

advertisements. AAAS E-119. Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.

Retrieved from Harvard University Extension School Canvas site.

Martin, C. (April 6, 2016). Lecture 10: Alternative trade and virtuous

localization/globalization. AAAS E-119. Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of

Food. Retrieved from Harvard University Extension School Canvas site.

Martin, C. (April 20, 2016). Lecture 12: Psychology, Terroir, and Taste. AAAS E-119.

Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Retrieved from Harvard University

Extension School Canvas site.

Martin, C. (April 27, 2016). Lecture 13: Haut patisserie, artisan chocolate, and food

justice: the future? AAAS E-119. Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.

Retrieved from Harvard University Extension School Canvas site.

Meet Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker. (2015). Mood of Living. Retrieved from

http://moodofliving.com/portfolio/blue-bandana-chocolate-maker/

Off, C. (2006). Bitter Chocolate: the dark side of the world’s most seductive sweet.

Retrieved from AAAS E-119. Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.

Retrieved from Harvard University Extension School Canvas site. PDF.

Ryan, O. (2011). Chocolate Nations. Living and dying for cocoa in West Africa.

Retrieved from AAAS E-119. Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.

Retrieved from Harvard University Extension School Canvas site. PDF.

Sylla, N. (2014). The Fair Trade Scandal: marketing poverty to benefit the rich.

Retrieved from AAAS E-119. Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food.

Retrieved from Harvard University Extension School Canvas site. PDF.

Ten principles of Fair Trade. (2012). Retrieved from http://wfto.com/fair-trade/10-principles-fair-trade

Zwirn, L. (December 2014). New England Chocolatiers set the bar high. Boston Globe.

Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/fooddining/2014/12/02/choc-                   and-awe/8hCzJTclu66ziBA2D1VBnJ/story.html

 

Appendix

Table 1.

Ten Principles of Fair Trade

Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability

Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices

Principle Four:  Payment of a Fair Price

Principle Five:  Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
Principle Six:  Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association

Principle Seven:  Ensuring Good Working Conditions

Principle Eight:  Providing Capacity Building

Principle Nine:  Promoting Fair Trade

Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment

Ten principles of Fair Trade. (2012). Retrieved from http://wfto.com/fair-trade/10-principles-fair-trade

Table 2. 

“Jim Lampman declared he would create upscale American chocolates that would “rival the Belgians.”  His son has kept the goals high: “Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker is a new dimension for Lake Champlain Chocolates,” says founder and President Jim Lampman. “It’s a priority for my children, Eric and Ellen, to have greater transparency in our supply chain.  And to be directly invested in an origin community is a testament to their commitment to having an impact on the global community.  Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker has the advantage of the history and support of the Lake Champlain Chocolates’ brand, with the fresh perspective, energy and innovation that comes with the younger generation.

Historically LCC has always focused on local — using Vermont ingredients, supporting our local communities.  And we still do,” says Eric Lampman, Director of Innovation and Quality at LCC and creator of Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker. “But now, after thirty-one successful years of being in business, we have the tools and resources to engage with our global supply network in a more substantial way that allows us to have an impact on our supply chain.”

“LCC introduces new approach to making chocolate” Retrievcd from https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/lake-champlain-chocolates-introduces-new-approach-to-making-chocolate-122571/

Table 3.

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When I called the company to inquire if they had organic cacao nibs for sale, they informed me that LCC does have nibs, that they are not certified organic, that they do not believe that chemicals are used in growing cacao but without the certification couldn’t guarantee that. I appreciated that they went on to explain that certifications can be expensive for farmers and that LCC has committed to helping their farmers become certified within the next couple of years. I think that LCC and Blue Bandana Chocolate are doing a marvelous job of educating consumers, being a responsible partner in the farming community to make sure that a quality cacao can achieve recognition and an appropriate market.

 

As Eric explained in an interview, “…our goal is to visit the farms we buy from and to have direct communications with each farmer or producer group with which we work….we strive to develop long-term partnerships with producers that grow premium cacao around the world. Our partnership with indigenous Maya producer groups in the eco-region surrounding Laguna Lachua National Park in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, began in 2012 as a way to work collaboratively at developing new opportunities for both producers and chocolate makers. Small capacity building investments have been made each year to support the planting and post-harvest production of cacao in the region…

       “With each visit to Guatemala, new ideas for incorporating aspects of the Maya

culture return with us. One project we are hoping to develop is up-cycling burlap

sacks into fashionable bags with leather strapping…. Proceeds from the bag sales go

to Food4Farmers, an organization that promotes diversified livelihoods with coffee

farmers – a program we want to connect to the cacao producers in Alta Verapaz”

(Meet Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker, 2015).

Chocolate,Chocolate Everywhere

As I ponder the selections of chocolate available in my local Trader Joe’s , it is important to understand a bit of the history of chocolate that is included in The True the History of Chocolate by  Coe & Coe .Cacao, Chocolate originated in Meso-America and is referred to as the “Food of the Gods” consumed by the elite and used in sacrifices to please the gods.  

Did you know that unlike money cacao really does grow on the pods and barks of trees.The chocolate trees were scientifically named Theobroma cacao in 1753 by the “great Swedish Naturalist” Linnaeus (1707-78). 

Theobroma cacao
Linnaeus- Swedish Naturalist that named the cacao tree-theobroma cacao

Raw Cacao beans don’t taste anything like the chocolate bars we consume.  After the cacao beans are harvested the cacao and pulp are fermented once fermentation is complete the beans are laid out to dry in the sun.  Once dried the beans are then sorted and roasted.  After the beans are roasted they are winnowed and finally  the cacao nibs that are used to make chocolate reveal themselves. The cacao nibs are naturally bitter therefore sugar and other ingredients are added when making chocolate to reduce the acidity and bitterness and increase the sweetness.

Sidney Mintz in his book Sweetness and Power reminds us that sugar and sweetness is introduced to us at a very young age , “the first non milk food that a baby is likely to receive in North American hospital is a 5% glucose and water solution used to evaluate its postpartum functioning because newborns tolerate glucose better than water.”(Mintz, 1985)  The fondness for sugar influences the chocolate that we consume as “most Americans instinctively go for blends with a high West African cacao content – this is a dominant cacao in some mass-produced brands that most American have eaten since childhood that is naturally identified with full chocolate flavor. Americans gravitate towards very light chocolate.” ( The New Taste of Chocolate, p. 136) Sweetness is a preferred taste from a very young age Cacao and sugar go together sort of like peanut butter and jelly. Alone each tastes okay but together they taste wonderful.

Chocolate has always evoked pleasant happy memories for me. From my childhood I can remember the heavenly aroma of chocolate from the Lowney Chocolate Factory wafting  through the air as we walked to school, the anticipation of devouring my  grocery store chocolate Easter bunny after Mass and the way the chocolate icing on a Honey Dew Donuts éclair melts in your mouth in an explosion of chocolate mixed with Bavarian cream. 

As I matured my love of chocolate did not waver and I stayed loyal to brands like Hersey and Nestle and for special occasions Godiva was the go to brand.  Then one day in 1987 a local chocolate shop called Puopolo’s Candies opened nearby.  As a big believer in supporting local business I felt that it was my duty to check out the new chocolate shop.  It was heaven!  The aroma and the wide assortment of chocolate confections was astounding. There wasn’t a Snickers, Milky Way or Kit Kat in the place and it didn’t matter because these chocolates didn’t require brand recognition as one could see, smell and anticipate the chocolate truffles melting smoothly on your tongue while the milk chocolate flavors come to life. I never knew exactly why I came to prefer the chocolate sold at Puopolo’s over Hersey, Nestle or even Godiva, until now.

The big chocolate manufactures like Hershey, Nestle and Godiva appeal to the masses for both taste and price of their products.  The chocolate  is made in huge factories using industrial equipment. Each batch of chocolate is made to taste exactly the same as the other so that there is no variation  of taste, color or texture in the thousands of candy bars that are made each day. Chocolate manufactured in this manner is referred to as industrial chocolate.

 

Shops like Puopolo’s are known as chocolatiers’ that appeal to people who appreciate and will pay for high quality chocolate . Chocolatiers’ produce chocolate creations on a much smaller scale and create confections in small batches by melting large bars of chocolate.

 

Sailboat and Anchor Favors
Puopolo chocolatiers’ confection

Another player has come on the scene and companies like  Taza chocolate  are part of a growing movement of small companies that produce  bean to bar products.

Image result for taza chocolate

 

The bean to bar companies are conscious of the long history of exploitation in the chocolate industry including children being used as forced labor on cacao plantations. (Off, 2006)  The bean to bar companies produce an ethical and sustainable product by controlling all stages of their chocolate making including choosing and grinding their own cacao beans.
The advantage of industrial chocolate for the consumer is that whether you purchase a Hershey bar in Alaska or Massachusetts the wrapper texture, color and taste of the chocolate will be the same. Whereas the smaller manufacturers including chocolatiers and bean to bar, aim to produce small unique batches of products.  Cacao beans alone are bitter thus sugar and sometimes other flavorings like vanilla and milk are added to cocoa beans to make the chocolate bars more palatable.  The more cacao content in a product the more intense the chocolate flavor which to many tastes bitter.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a local chocolatiers nearby so I set out to my local Trader Joe’s  to utilize my new-found knowledge and analyze their chocolate section.

Mintz states ” food choices and eating habits reveal distinctions of age, sex, status , culture and even occupation.” (Sweetness and Power).  Trader Joe’s is a slighty upscale, funky progressive full service grocery store who cater to their customers food and need to shop at a socially responsible store. Customers that shop here generally care about where and how the ingredients in their food come from . Trader Joe’s listened to their customers and according to the timeline listed on their website in 1997 they “made a commitment to eliminate artificial trans fats from all private label products (along with artificial flavors, artificial preservatives & GMO ingredients… but that’s old news by now).”

Trader Joe’s shoppers are diverse and span the  socio economic scale. They want to feel as if they are being socially and environmentally responsible without spending a lot of cash. They will however spend a bit more for a product if it makes them feel like they are achieving the goals of being a responsible consumer.   One such chocolate bar checks all those boxes the  Fair Trade Organic Belgium Chocolate Bar is  included in the wide selection of chocolate products that are displayed throughout the store. These bars were included in the chocolate bar section located at the back of the store at the end of an aisle near the milk.  The majority of the chocolate bars were 3.5 ounces with price points between $1.99 for the Fair Trade Organic Belgium Chocolate bars , $2.99 for a Valrhona dark chocolate bar and for $4.99 you could purchase a milk and almond pound plus bar.  There were quite a few chocolate products located in the impulse buy zone at the front of the store including dark chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate covered almonds for $4.99 each.

As I strolled the isles I noticed some chocolate bars above the seafood section that had pretty and exotic looking labels.  Upon closer inspection it is revealed that these are dark chocolate bars made with 70% cacao and delicious fillings like coconut caramel and toffee and walnuts.  Along side these bars there was a 65% Dark Cacao bar that is made from single origin fairly traded beans from Ecuador. These chocolate bars highlight the cacao content to entice those that believe the claim that chocolate is good for your heart . However,  James Howe  advises  that the claim that chocolate is heart healthy  is not scientifically proven that chocolate consumption alone is the primary element in increasing cardiovascular health. ( Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health, 2012) The artwork depicts nature scenes to enhance the natural allure of these chocolate bars that are priced at just $1.89.

IMG_1449

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In spite From the  lovely artwork and detailed descriptions highlighting the cacao content and country of origin of the beans it is clear from the price points of $1.89 that these are mass marketed  industrial made chocolate bars covered in cleverly  designed Trader Joe’s wrappers. The wrappers contain all the buzz words and images  the consumer wants to see so they feel like they are purchasing socially responsible products.  When I questioned the  store manager about the private label chocolate bars he did not know what company Trader Joe’s bought the chocolate bars from however he assured me that they were made from the finest organic ingredients yet… only a few chocolate bars are labeled organic or Fair Trade.

IMG_1461IMG_1462 IMG_1463

The Trader Joe’s Chocolate truffles look decadent on the shiny red background of the package. They even provide directions on how to”taste these delicate truffles”.  Trader Joe’s selections so far were on target for their consumers, good cacao content, some organic selections. therefore  I was very surprised when the first ingredient listed in the Cocoa Truffles was vegetable oil , the second sugar and finally cocoa powder appears as the third ingredient. This was disappointing  as it is not as high quality chocolate product as it appears and not consistent with the prior products viewed.

After reviewing the chocolate bar and other chocolate products at Trader Joe’s  I’ve concluded that Trader Joe’s should expand their chocolate selections to include more Fair Trade chocolate products and add a few  Bean to Bar and local chocolatiers products to the inventory.  It would be a clear statement to Trader Joe’s customers and the chocolate industry  that  Trader Joe’s cares about ethics and is committed to providing  their customers with more Fair Trade, organic and local chocolate products.  While the typical Trader Joe’s customer appreciates a bargain , many would be willing to pay more for chocolate if they know that their purchase directly benefits the cacao farmer or the small business person.  Trader Joe’s has the opportunity to make a difference in the chocolate industry if they go beyond selling private label chocolate bars and include bean to bar and local chocolate makers.
If you want to make an effort to consume Fair Trade organic chocolate the key is read the labels or find your local chocolate shop , either bean to bar or chocolatiers you won’t be disappointed.

 

Works Cited

Coe, S. D., & Coe, M. D. (2013). The true history of chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Mintz, S. W. (1986). Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

“Chocolate and Cardiovascular Health: The Kuna Case Reconsidered.” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 12.1 (2012): 43-52. Web.

The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Ed. Maricel E. Presilla. New York: Ten Speed, 2009. 61-94. Print.

Carol Off, Bitter Chocolate: the dark side of the world’s most seductive sweet.2006. The New Press.  print.

 

Multimedia and internet sources

Google Images , date accessed 5/7/16. http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/chocolate/images/content_img/CacaoGod.jpghttps://madhuwellness.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/cacoa.jpg
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/~/media/fairtradeuk/farmers%20and%20workers/images/text%20images%20440px/fw_cocoa_440px.ashx?la=en&h=280&w=440
http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0738/3955/products/Taza_Stone_Ground_Chocolate_80_perc_Dark_B_grande.jpg?v=1438702196
http://newwoodbridge.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/WelcomeTJ.jpghttps://fairtradeusa.org/products-partners/cocoa#
http://www.traderjoes.com/images/fearless-flyer/uploads/article-428/95474-Trader Joes 95475_Fair_Trade_Chocolate.jpg

Websites referenced.
http://www.traderjoes.com

Hershey’s Chocolate Making Process. htttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TcFYfoB1BY-
http://www.traderjoes.com/our-story/timeline
http://cspinet.org/transfat/timeline.htm
http://honeydewdonuts.com/
http://www.nestleusa.com/brands/chocolate/nestle-milk-chocolate
https://www.hersheys.com/en_us/home.html
http://www.godiva.com/
https://www.snickers.com/
http://www.milkywaybar.com/
https://www.kitkat.com/http://www.puopolocandies.com/
https://www.tazachocolate.com/
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/02/13/171891081/bean-to-bar-chocolate-makers-dare-to-bare-how-its-done.
USDA Organic guidelines.  https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification

 

Better than Your Average Chocolate Company

Dandelion Chocolate: A New Kind of Chocolate Company

Dandelion, a bean to bar, small batch chocolate company based in San Francisco, is a socially conscious company who focuses on making a quality product, that not only benefits the company and consumers, but ensures that the producers and farmers also receive fair treatment. Within the chocolate and cacao market, there are many issues with the chain from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar. For example, farmers receiving little pay, child labor, slavery, high certification costs, etc… Dandelion Chocolate is a company that works to combat these issues within the cacao supply chain by transparency and open communication throughout the process, direct sourcing, and the eradication of certifications on their products. Dandelion Chocolate is not labeled Fair trade, or Organic, but in their own way, they are able to create a brand with quality ingredients and  Through these tactics Dandelion has created a meaningful, quality and sustainable brand that has sought to continually learn about and better the cacao supply chain.

By analyzing the Dandelion Sourcing book from 2015 I will highlight the mission of Dandelion Chocolate and how they are focused on not just creating a quality product that sells, but they are interested in “good business practices [that] can foster positive social, environmental, and economic change.” (Gore) Also if we compare Dandelion Chocolate to Big Five Chocolate companies or other Fair Trade or organic companies we are able to see that Dandelion is truly taking an approach that is solving these cacao supply chain issues.

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This is a picture of the Dandelion Chocolate store in San Francisco. From the start of your visit, they want you to know that they have a simple recipe, made with high quality ingredients. 

image found from: http://www.shipstation.com/stories/dandelion-chocolate/

Exploiters and the Exploited

Big Five chocolate companies such as Hershey, Mars, and Cadbury buy bulk cacao. This bulk cacao is not sourced directly or through fair trade, meaning there are no social regulations on the farms that they buy their cacao from. Often, there is this notion that the Big Chocolate companies “exploit” West African cacao farmers. For example, someone observing the workers noted, “the villagers seem to make everything for today, living hand to mouth with little remaining for tomorrow… their primary activity here is to produce cocoa for the international market. As such, they earn just enough money from cacao sales to pay for rice and cooking oil. there’s usually nothing left over.” (Off, pg. 5) Furthermore, These companies do not practice transparency in their sourcing and because of this it is likely that they are buying from places who have child labor, slavery and are receiving wages that are hardly survivable on. The farmers are trying to make money by harvesting cacao but this ends up in them exploiting members of their communities and families. For example, another observation noted, “Mack learned of another category of labor…What his informers described sounded a lot like slavery, and what made the stories even more horrifying was that it seemed the slaves were children.” (Off, pg.120) The Big Chocolate companies are buying this cacao and there is no security for these farmers in what they receive from the sales of the cacao they harvest.

chocolate_slavery_main
This is a picture of child slavery. Larger companies such as the Chocolate Big Five do not practice transparency in sourcing cacao. Meaning, it is likely that thier products come from farms where they practice child slavery.

 

image found from:http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/

Cacao Sourcing Transparency

Dandelion makes it a goal to have transparency through their whole process of sourcing. This company is clearly making an effort to allow their customers to learn about their process and how they source their cacao. Publishing and uploading their “2015 Dandelion Sourcing Book” is something that opens the conversation for consumers to see their ethics in sourcing. Consumers are able to see where and who Dandelion trades with, also, consumers are able to see how much Dandelion pays for their cacao in comparison to how much other companies pay for cacao. This detail allows the consumer to know what their money is going towards and and ensure that the farmers and producers are being justly compensated. Dandelion says, “We pay as much as two times the world market price (and sometimes more) for the beans, providing a premium between seven and seventeen times greater than the Fair-trade standard of $200 per tonne.” (Gore) This compensation not only gives the consumer peace of mind, it also helps to guarantee a better quality cacao bean. Paying a higher amount for cacao helps to reinforce the farmers and producers incentive for harvesting better beans.

Chocolate makers like us are willing to pay far more than the world market price for high quality beans, which means the price we pay for cacao is completely detached from the volatility of the world market price. Instead, what we pay depends upon the quality of the cacao, what the farmer believes it is with and what our customers will pay for a finished chocolate bar. (Gore)

For Dandelion Chocolate, it is not just about creating a chocolate bar that sells, they are socially conscious and take into account all the people involved in the process. They practice transparency so that every step in the bean to bar supply chain is open and people know what their money is going towards.

Fair Trade Critiques

Fair trade is a great thing. “[Products] that bear [this] logo were made with respect to people and planet. Our rigorous social, environmental and economic standards work to promote safe, health working conditions, and protect the environment…When you choose products without eh Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community.” (Fair Trade USA) The overall mission of Fair Trade is to help these farmers that companies source from receive fair treatment and fair payment. Though these ideals seem as if they will benefit the farmers, there are a few critiques of the Fair Trade industry.  Though fair trade aims for fair treatment and fair compensation for all parts of the cacao supply chain, critiques show that farmers still receive little compensation, there is a lack of evidence that fair trade actually helps, and the fair trade certification is very expensive. Dandelion Chocolate works to combat these issues and critiques of Fair Trade by ensuring quality products without the certifications. The certifications are so expensive that it is hard for the farmers to get in the first place, and then they have to be renewed every few years. For example, “in Tanzania, it costs $8,000 just to get the organic certification auditors to visit a farm.” (Gore) Fair Trade also has not been shown to have evidence of results. For example, a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs states, “Even analysts sympathetic to the movement have suggested that only 25 per cent of the premium reaches producers. No study ever produced has shown that the benefit to producers anything like matches the premium paid.” (Wallop). Dandelion’s lack of certifications does not mean that they have a product of lesser quality. They directly source their cacao from farms and visit these farms throughout the year. They believe that “the burden of proof is their responsibility” (Gore) so they go to the farms themselves if they want to see the cacao production ethics and quality. This is a way in which they are able to guarantee quality of the cacao they source while avoiding the steep certification costs. 

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These are workers from Dandelion Chocolate, who are traveling to cacao farms. They are ensuring ethical practices and quality cacao beans. 

Image found from: https://www.dandelionchocolate.com/category/industry/

Dandelion: An Environmentally Friendly Company

Dandelion claims to use only two ingredients in their chocolate, “cacao beans and cane sugar.”  The cacao beans they source are directly sourced and use ethical treatment of the farmers. As I mentioned, they pay more for their cacao to incentivize ethical practices on the farms they receive it from, as well as better quality cacao. Not only does Dandelion practice good relationships with the people they work with and the farmers they source from, Dandelion practices and fosters a sustainable and nurturing approach to sugar cane farming. Their sugar is bought from “Native Green Cane Project” where “the project aims to replace traditional sugarcane farming methods that ravage natural ecosystems with new methods that return the land closer to it’s natural state.”(Gore) The land is an important part in producing materials for Dandelion’s chocolate and they are making sure that they are using environmentally friendly methods to produce these ingredients. So far, with the “Ecosystem Revitalizing Agriculture” system there is “23x more biodiversity than conventional sugarcane farms… a 20-30% increase in yield per hectare, and the drastic reversal of the operation’s carbon footprint.” (Gore) Dandelion has really made an effort to be transparent in all parts of the cacao supply chain. With this transparency, we are able to see the steps Dandelion Chocolate has taken to fight issues displayed in the cacao supply chain by Big Five Chocolate companies and Fair Trade Certifications.

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Dandelion makes a product, socially and environmentally friendly. They travel to different cacao farms to ensure quality and ethical practices and source  their sugar from an environmentally friendly farm.    

Image found from: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/02/dandelion-chocolate-san-francisco/

Conclusion

Dandelion is not a perfect company, however they make a really good effort to be better for the environment, farmers, customers and everyone they work with. With their transparency and 2015 Sourcing Report we are able to learn where they get their materials and ingredients from, how much they pay them, the ethics and methods they use, etc… This transparency shows initiative and an earnest attempt to combat the issues with the cacao supply chain.

Works Cited

Gore, Molly. Dandelion Small Batch Chocolate 2015 Sourcing Report. Rep. San Francisco: Dandelion Chocolate, 2015. Web.

Wallop, Harry. “Fair Trade Does Not Help the Poorest, Report Says.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 4 Nov. 2010. Web. 02 May 2016.

Off, Carol. Bitter Chocolate: The Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet. New York: New, 2008. Print.

Fair Trade USA.” What Is Fair Trade? Fair Trade USA, n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.

Gore, Molly. “Dandelion Chocolate.” Dandelion Chocolate. Dandelion Chocolate, n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.

Hello Cocoa

http://www.hellococoachocolate.com/

Intro

When we think of chocolate in America we often think about a bag of M&M’s or a Snickers bar or a Kit-Kat. Regardless of the specific image it probably makes your mouth salivate thinking about the sugary, chocolate taste we all have come to love. What we don’t think about when we hear the word chocolate are terms such as slavery, child labor, certification or transparency. Chocolate industry analysts predict the global chocolate market will experience annual sales of $98.3 billion by 2016, the result of an annual growth rate approaching 3 percent. The chocolate market is large and rapidly growing but it has also dealt with growing concerns regarding ethical issues in the cacao-chocolate supply chain. Large chocolate corporations are in an arms race with one another to break into emerging markets and produce more efficiently that they are often more concerned with profits than certain ethical issues.

The company Hello Cocoa is a small-batch bean to bar company based in Fayetteville, Arkansas that pride themselves on “connecting people with flavors and cultures around the world.” (8) As they say on their website, “through ethical and direct trade, we strive to create relationships with locals and friends abroad to create an excellent chocolate experience, all in effort to cultivate community around chocolate.” (8) Hello Cocoa is a socially conscious company that combats many of the issues facing large chocolate corporations today. This essay will provide an ethnographic analysis of Hello Cocoa and explain why they are part of the solution to changing the cacao-chocolate supply chain.

 

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Figure 1. The home page of Hello Cocoa’s website

Exploitation

The most publicized issue in the cacao-chocolate supply chain is the prevalence of child labor. Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean, which grows primarily in Western Africa, Asia and Latin America. In recent years, organizations have begun to expose the widespread use of child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa that supply to some of the industries largest companies such as Hershey’s, Mars and Nestle. In response to this finding, the industry has become incredibly secretive, making it difficult for journalists to access farms that exploit child labor and thus difficult to disseminate information to the public. To put things in perspective, 60% of the Ivory Coast’s export revenue comes from the cacao industry, however, the average cacao farmer earns less than $2 a day. In order to keep prices competitive they often resort to the use of child labor.

There are several obvious issues with child labor such as the long, intensive hours spent on a cacao farm and the day-to-day hazards of working with dangerous tools such as a machete. Above all else though is the deprivation of the rights of the children themselves that violate the International Labor Organizations Child Labor Standards. 40% of child laborers in the Ivory Coast do not attend school. Depriving children of an education is unjust but it also robs them of any hope of breaking the cycle of poverty. The industry has begun to eliminate what the ILO calls the ‘worst forms of child labor’, but they still have a long way to go to create any substantial change. The real transformation will occur when chocolate companies take it upon themselves to not tolerate child labor and refuse to buy beans that were the product of human rights violations.

Hello Cocoa is one company that is ahead of the curve on these issues. They write in their mission statement, “We are passionate about travel and meeting people; this is an essential foundation of the Hello Cocoa experience and was the original inspiration of our company. We want to introduce our fans and chocolate-lovers to friends, lifestyles, cultures & landscapes around the world. And it all starts with a simple greeting, hello.” (8) Since they prioritize human relationships and human connections so highly, they have absolutely no tolerance for farmers that use forced child labor. The mission statement of Hello Cocoa says everything you need to know about the direction this company intends to go. What if we could do a bit of good in the world one chocolate bar at a time? In an industry that is increasingly focused on turning a profit, Hello Cocoa is a leader in ethics and moral sustainability.

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Figure 2. A member of the Hello Cocoa team with farmers in Africa because real face-to-face interaction between the company and the farmers is a cornerstone of their company.

 

Fair Trade

Another topic that is widely debated in the chocolate industry has to do with fair trade. Fair trade is a certification process that helps farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities. The Fair Trade USA website claims, “Our rigorous social, environmental and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses.” (7) Any company that is fair trade certified is mandated to comply with the following rules:

  • No child labor (forced or otherwise exploited)
  • No workplace discrimination (gender equity and freedom of association)
  • Regulations on product ingredients
  • Safe working conditions and reasonable work hours
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Traceability and transparency

There is no denying that the intention of Fair Trade organizations is to eradicate issues that trouble the chocolate industry, however, there have been a number of critiques questioning its effectiveness.

Critics of fair trade say that it hurts poor, non-certified farmers whereas it helps rich farmers. This is because the cost of being certified is very high and thus many small farms cannot afford to apply for the certification process even if they are abiding by the fair trade regulations. This means that a chocolate bar you buy at your local grocery store that is not fair trade certified could actually be produced in the same way as chocolate that is fair trade certified. This is harmful to small farms because retailers are willing to pay more for fair trade beans then for regular cacao beans. Further critiques say that the regulations and inspections done by fair trade committees are rather lenient and occasionally allow non fair trade ingredients in fair trade products.

Hello Cacao combats this fair trade issue by engaging in direct trade. “Direct trade is a form of sourcing practiced by some coffee roasters and chocolate companies, referring to direct sourcing from farmers, with standards varying between producers.” (9) Direct trade does a better job of promoting direct communication and price negotiation between buyer and farmer without having to deal with an intermediary. It is typically a more transparent process that places greater emphasis on the quality of production. Their website says, “By doing business with cacao distributors that uphold ethical and sustainable standards, we impart dignity to (or empower) cacao farmers. And when we engage in direct trade, we strive to empower farmers by paying a fair wage directly to the farmer, while also seeking to establish a long-term relationship from which both of us benefit.” (8) Hello Cacao also uses no preservatives, non-GMO pure cane sugar and organic cacao beans to ensure high quality chocolate.

Figure 3. This is the fair trade certification logo.

 

Conclusion

The first step that must be taken in order to eradicate these issues and reward companies such as Hello Cocoa who conduct their business responsibly has to do with transparency. As has been discussed in this essay the deception and covering up of illegal activity is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with by implementing punishments. In order to hold companies responsible for their actions, regulations have to be put in place that mandate the release of information to the public. Customers have the right to know what they are purchasing and the right to educate themselves. The majority of consumers would not purchase chocolate if they knew it was produced illegally or unethically, however, the majority of consumers today are in the dark regarding many of these issues. Hello Cocoa is one of the rare companies that relishes transparency because they have nothing to hide. Attached to this essay is a video found on their website that details the complete bean-to-bar process of making chocolate. They also outline whom they purchase their beans from and the relationships they maintain with each group of farmers. This is obviously easier to do since they are a small company but they have made it a priority in their business model to place greater importance on ethical chocolate production and that is why other companies in the industry should look to emulate them.

 

Works Cited

  1. World Cocoa Foundation. March 2012. “Cocoa Market Update.” http://worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/Cocoa-Market-Update-as-of-3.20.2012.pdf. (2/27/14)
  2. Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer.  March 31, 2011. “Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.” Tulane University. http://issuu.com/stevebutton
  3. BBC. March 24, 2010. “Tracing the bitter truth of chocolate and child labour.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_8583000/8583499.stm. (3/01/14)
  4. Sackett, Marjie. “Forced Child Labor and Cocoa Production in West Africa.” Human Rights & Human Welfare (2008). https://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/researchdigest/slavery/africa.pdf. (3/01/14)
  5. Kramer, Anna. March 6, 2013. “Women and the big business of chocolate.” Oxfam America. http://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/stories/women-and-the-big-business-of-chocolate/. (3/04/14)
  6. Grossman-Greene, Sarah, and Bayer, Chris. 2009. “A History of Child Labor, Child Rights, and the Harkin-Engel Protocol.” Tulane University. http://www.childlabor-payson.org/meetings/Ghana_Consultative_Meeting_2010/Documents
  7. Fair Trade USA.” What Is Fair Trade? Fair Trade USA, n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.
  8. “Our Mission.” Hello Cocoa. Hello Cocoa, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.
  9. Martin, C. (04/06/16). Alternative trade and virtuous localization/globalization. (Powerpoint Slides). Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_kGt6Sj1X5bYUY0UWg0Y1h2TTA&usp=sharing

 

Do You Know Your Cacao Farmer? Looking Beyond Fair Trade Certified with Direct Trade Initiatives and ‘Bean-to-Bar’ Companies

Imagine this scenario: you’re looking through a magazine at the Doctor’s office one day and you see this ad –

ice-cream-fair-trade-cocoa-600-93572

And it makes you think, “Isn‘t that interesting… I know Ben and Jerry’s was bought by Unilever and ever since I’ve stopped buying their ice cream, but if they’re using Fair Trade ingredients maybe I will pick-up some on my way home – this decision makes me feel better about buying this delicious product again.

If you identify with this thought process you might think of yourself as a socially conscious and ethical consumer. You wouldn’t be wrong to think this but you probably haven’t heard the intricacies of the Fair Trade debate or of any other alternatives to this often idealized one-stop solution.

Let’s start by digging deeper into the public relations information promoted by the Fair Trade Certified™ organization reflected in the Ben & Jerry’s advertisement.

To see how companies market their products as having a value added benefit to farmers, producers and consumers using these standards, check out this article on What is Fair Trade by Cocoa Couriers a specialty chocolate website that sells a variety of Fair Trade Chocolate from around the world.

But there are some draw backs to Fair Trade as Maricel Presilla explains: “the Fair Trade Federation price system is meant to ensure just compensation to cacao farmers in developing nations, but it doesn’t guarantee substantially higher income for any individual farmer… organic or Fair Trade cacao can be mediocre (or worse) in quality. Moreover, the certification programs involved in such campaigns introduce layers of bureaucracy between grower and consumer that can cut into a farm’s profits.”1

To delve deeper into the underside of Fair Trade, take a look at this Introduction of Ndongo Sylla’s The Fair Trade Scandal. In her book she explores the very messy world of International Trade Regulations by WTO, effects of neoliberal globalization, and the history of Fair Trade and its relations to new buzz words like sustainable. Here Sylla examines the business of poverty and how it relates to advertising:

“Fair Trade nevertheless seeks to change the world by extending the empire of commodities further. How can it do so? Poverty itself has become a commodity. Poverty is being labelled. Through this label, it is the idea and the approach that are being sold. The label gives poverty a visibility it did not have before. It gives it an identity. A seal is applied on commodities produced by the poor – in fact by a minority among the poor – so that consumers of the North can distinguish between the ‘Fair’ approach and others. In theory, this label guarantees that the higher price paid will be put to good use and benefit impoverished workers. But Fair Trade needs advertising in order to attract clients, as all sellers do. Marketing and awareness campaigns are necessary to promote its cause.”2

After reading, you might feel more educated on the subtleties regarding why Fair Trade was created and what issues it faces, while also feeling more confused than ever. So what’s the alternative, isn’t buying a Fair Trade product the lesser evil? Yes, and no: increasingly some companies and growers are realizing the pitfalls of Fair Trade certifications and addressing them with new trade models. Companies like Taza Chocolate are using the terminology ‘bean-to-bar’ and ‘Direct Trade’ to label these decisions. Here is what Taza has to say about their Direct Trade Certified Cacao:

Direct Trade Certified

Taza makes stone ground chocolate that is seriously good and fair for all. From farm to factory, we do things differently. We do things better. We are chocolate pioneers.

It starts with Taza Direct Trade. We said no to predatory middlemen and abusive labor practices. We created the chocolate industry’s first third-party certified Direct Trade cacao sourcing program, to ensure quality and transparency for all. We have real, face-to-face relationships with growers who respect the environment and fair labor practices. They provide us with the best organic cacao, and we pay them prices significantly higher than Fair Trade. In fact, you can
see exactly what we pay them, in our groundbreaking Annual Cacao
Sourcing Transparency Reports.

Taza Direct Trade means more money for farmers, the best cacao for us, and seriously good chocolate for you.3

With this information about Direct Trade initiatives in mind, why don’t we see more advertisements that invite consumers to learn about this alternate business model and support companies that are implementing better trade practices and providing higher quality products? Would this advertisement catch your eye?

CacaoGrowersWantToKnow-DirectTradeMeme

Did this advertisement I created make you think more than the Ben & Jerry’s ad regarding what you can do to educate yourself about direct trade models and get you interested in Askinoise, a company that the growers are advocating for?

If so, you might also consider:

  • What are the benefits of having direct relations with the growers of my food?
  • How can I support companies like Taza, Choba Choba and Askinosie who partner with and compensate their growers with ‘a stake in the outcome™‘ of their product?
  • How can I go beyond advertisements and learn more about the products I buy and the impact of their claims?

By asking questions like these you have the power to unlock real change in the cacao supply chain and other commodities by supporting companies with solutions to: Tariff barriers, global indexing of the global North vs the global South perpetuated with unethical and disastrous results that feed binaries of exploiter/exploited and do little to change the economic models that feed this inequality.

To Askinosie Chocolate, answers to these issues looks like these reasons for Direct Trade from their website:

Because you get better chocolate

Because it’s better Farmernomics

Because we all get better communities

So, why do we practice Direct Trade? Very few chocolate makers do, after all, and almost none go to the lengths we do to be involved every step of the way. It’s certainly not cheaper, easier or simpler, and it definitely doesn’t carry less financial risk for us. We practice Direct Trade because we think it’s the right way and the best way.4

Choba Choba, another company moving beyond Fair Trade shares this video that explains how they have imagined change in the supply chain:

Chobachobameme1.jpg

What can be done to keep building more company, supplier alliances like these? Support organizations like TechnoServe who bring these partnerships together.

Additional Resources for Further Understanding Chocolate Trade Solutions:

Try some Direct Trade and Bean-to-Bar chocolate!

 

References:

1 Presilla, Maricel. 2009. The New Taste of Chocolate. pp. 133.

2 Sylla, Ndongo Samba. “The Fair Trade Scandal.” Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich (Pluto (2014).

3 “Taza Direct Trade.” Taza Chocolate. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <https://www.tazachocolate.com/pages/taza-direct-trade&gt;.
4 Askinosie Chocolate. A Stake in the Outcome. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <https://askinosie.com/learn/direct-trade.html>

Images:

Choba Choba. ChobaChobaBlog1. 2014. Http://chobachoba.com/a-chocolate-revolution-is-about-to-star/a-chocolate-revolution-is-about-to-star/. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
Askinosie Chocolate. A Stake in the Outcome. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <https://askinosie.com/learn/a-stake-in-the-outcome.html&gt;.
Unilever. Ben & Jerry’s: “FAIR TRADE COCOA” Print Ad. 2010. Amalgamated New York. Coloribus. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. <http://files1.coloribus.com/files/adsarchive/part_1661/16612555/file/ice-cream-fair-trade-cocoa-600-93572.jpg&gt;.

Advertisement for Marou Chocolate

Marou Chocolate
Marou’s advertisement

Without a tagline, the above advertisement screams out the bean to bar roots of the company behind it. That company, Marou, is a bean-to-bar artisanal chocolate maker based in Vietnam heavily supporting the movement and the ethical sustainable production that goes with it (“Celebrating World Fair”, 2015). This stands out very boldly in their advertisement as shown in the placement of cacao pods directly next to the finished chocolate product encouraging the viewer to think about the origins of the chocolate. The intricate golden etchings on the wrapper exude exclusivity. The vibrant colors of the cacao pods create awareness about the different cacao varieties and nudge a consumer towards recognizing the subtle differences in the taste of each chocolate bar.

The structure of the advertisement places a particular emphasis on the connection between a raw material and the finished product, knowledge of which is completely lost upon our generation. The tips of each cacao pod point to their respective chocolates, emboldening the bean-to-bar and source-to-product idea and welcoming the consumer to ruminate the chocolate bar’s origins. The neat placement of each pod with the chocolate embodies a sense of purity in their product and brings a consumer’s attention to the brand’s origins and their ‘single source’ philosophy. The eye-catching colors of “deep vermillion to ochre yellow, grass green, midnight blue, and flushes of peacock aqua” (Boot, 2012) offer the consumer an opportunity to learn about the different geographical origins of each chocolate bar. The titles of the chocolates, for example ‘Single Origin Ben Tre 78%’, highlight the Vietnamese provinces from which the cacaos originate and display intent to take the consumer on a journey through Vietnam. All these elements, together in the structure of the ad, invoke a strong sense of a bean-to-bar movement and Marou’s commitment to it while maintaining a perception of exclusivity around the product.

Packaging detail
Close up of the packaging

The wrapping of the chocolate strongly elevates the distinctiveness around the product. The intricate lattice pattern reveals a mixture of modernity and tradition raising a consumer’s curiosity. The images as well as traditional etchings of “fruits, flowers, auspicious animals, […], leaves, […], heavenly looking clouds” (Boot, 2012) on the packaging are cues of local influence, which portray the chocolate as a delicacy to be enjoyed by adult consumers. This customary design, perhaps, could also be a way to invoke nostalgia among the Vietnamese diaspora, helping to differentiate the product among its competitors. The rich gold color and the embossing on the wrapper stands as a symbol of wealth and reveals itself as a luxurious product to a socially affluent consumer. The lengths to which Marou goes to achieve this level of sophistication and detail on the packaging shows their commitment and dedication to delivering a world class bean to bar product while promoting the culture of a country less known in the cacao world.

Marou chocolate_my ad
Updated Marou’s ad

In my version of the ad, I decided to emphasize more on the bean to bar movement that the chocolate and the company clearly portray. It is in the intricacies of post-harvest processing of cacao where the delicacies of the flavors are enhanced in a chocolate bar, which unfortunately are not conveyed in the original advert. Chocolate labels are very confusing to consumers who are new to the complexities of today’s chocolate lingo and can become lost in trying to figure out what words really matter to them. The added tagline: ‘Passion. Care. Innovation. A bean to bar chocolate from Vietnam.’ will help the consumer by re-iterating not only the origin of the chocolate but also portraying that the chocolate makers have “push[ed] the boundaries of exploration and experiment[ed] with new techniques to extract the best from their precious consignment of [handpicked] beans” (Baker, 2015). With the tagline, I am ensuring that the processes of sourcing raw materials directly from the farmers, a better compensation for them, building of a direct relationship with the growers and shortening of the value chains do not fall deaf on a consumer’s ears. I intend to appeal to both a socially conscious consumer and one who values fine taste of chocolate.

In both the ads there is a visible effort to shorten the supply chain. With the extensive industrialization of food, an increasing number of us have become unaware of where our food comes from or who produces it. We are now the furthest away from our food source than we have ever been (“How Far Does”). However, a few trade organizations like Fair Trade have worked towards reversing this trend by using effective marketing and labeling. A product with a Fair Trade label stands for:

    “a powerful and positive link between the consumer and producer…it helps consumers understand, and take responsibility for, the role they play” (Reynolds)

The label has brought a new wave of consumers who are not only supporting this movement but also demanding for more transparency where it does not currently exist. Marou tries to achieve this with their single origin labeling providing emphasis on its origin. The ‘Bà Rịa 76% Single Origin Dark Chocolate’ labeling on the package offers transparency to a consumer about the origin of the beans and makes them acutely aware of the source of the chocolate. In my version of the ad, I have emphasized and explained in social conscious terms, the bean to bar movement, in an attempt to bridge the consumer directly with the raw product, farmers and Vietnam.

References:

[1]: “Celebrating World Fair Trade Day, Our Way…” Marou Faiseurs De Chocolate. Marou Chocolate, 14 June 2015. Web. 03 April 2016.

[2]: Boot, Rodney. “Marou chocolate packaging”. Creative Roots. CreativeRoots. 04 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 April 2016.

[3]: Baker, Andrew. “I should cocoa: why we’re all going mad for bean-to-bar chocolate”. The Telegraph. Telegraph Food. 03 Jan 2015. Web. 03 April 2016

[4]: “How Far Does Your Food Travel to Get to Your Plate?”. CUESA Cultivating a Healthy Food System. CUESA. Web. 07 April 2016.

[5]: Reynolds, Laura. Forging New Customer/Producer Links in Fair Trade Coffee Networks . 1st ed. Colorado: Colorado State University, 2016. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.

[6] Digital Image. Ji, Mám. Marou Chocolate. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

[7] Digital Image. Vercruysse, Geert. Marou Chocolate Bars. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

[8] Digital Image. Khera, Ashira. Marou Advert. 2016. 1 Apr. 2016.