Tag Archives: Fair Trade Certified

Bitterness and Health of Dark Chocolate: Subtle Backstories Revealed

INTRODUCTION

“Ooooohhh, what’s this?  Free chocolate?!”

So began an informal chocolate tasting with 17 curious volunteers.  Each individual completed a survey that both collected and tested their knowledge of 8 anonymized chocolate samples.  At the end of the survey, respondents selected their favorite sample and attempted to match each one with its wrapper.

While more data was collected than ultimately analyzed, 2 themes cropped up relatively quickly that potentially revealed both underlying historical and contemporary backstories.  The first theme is the participants’ preference to sweet chocolate over dark chocolate, which can be explained by the historical dubious business practices of the Big Chocolate firms as opposed to the more simple explanation that all humans naturally prefer the taste of sweetness.  The second theme consists of the participants’ conflicting knowledge about the extent of dark chocolate’s health benefits.

METHOD

Planning the questionnaire at first proved challenging.  What question(s) would the survey attempt to answer?  Who would participate?  What kinds or brands of chocolate would be included?  Ultimately, it was decided to ask employees at a local Boston start-up company to participate in the survey as this particular office is known for its enthusiasm and participation in events.

The survey had two sections: pre-tasting and post-tasting.  The pre-tasting section focused primarily on the participants’ chocolate consumption (what determines the purchase of chocolate, how much chocolate is consumed, who receives purchased chocolate, what determines the purchase of a particular chocolate brand over others, etc.) with two preparatory questions meant to engage partakers with their chocolate.  The post-tasting section requested subjects to identify their personal favorite chocolate sample and to match all samples with their packaging.

Chocolate Samples
The chocolates sampled by the volunteers. All are advertised on the wrappers as either “dark” or “bitter.”  However, what the participants did not know is that the Hershey’s and Cadbury brands have such low cacao percentages, they are widely considered milk chocolates instead.  Brands were chosen based on their collective ability to compare sweetness, certifications, price, and brand recognition.  All samples were also easy to purchase and obtain.
20180501_205150
To keep participants from using indicators on the actual samples, all brand names and symbols were scraped off with a knife beforehand.  This was the most time-consuming aspect of the entire survey setup.

Neither section was designed to answer any particular predetermined question.  Instead, the resulting analysis was written based on the data collected and the trends it illustrated.  Only one of the biographical data sets was used for the analysis: city and country of birth.  For the reader’s reference, attached is the blank form all contributors received.

SWEETNESS AND BIG CHOCOLATE

The first overall theme from the results and sampling was that the majority of participants (9 of the 15 who responded to the specific prompt) preferred the sweet samples (Hershey’s or Cadbury) to the bitter/darker ones.  One volunteer jokingly referred to the 90% Lindt Supreme Dark chocolate sample as being “offensive” to her taste buds.  This is not surprising as most people exhibit a preference for sweetness.

As described by David Benton, “The attraction of chocolate lies in its taste.  The combination of sweetness and fat approaches the ideal hedonic combination.”  Benton further explains that within experimentation, “when the palatability of combinations of fat and sugar were compared, the optimal combination was found to be 7.6% sugar with cream containing 24.7% fat” and that “the fat content of chocolate is close to this ideal figure, although the sugar content of chocolate is greater” (Benton, 2004).  However, as this Slate article points out, humans “are the descendants of wandering hunter-gatherers with a powerful ability to learn from experience: Like them, we can train our palates and brains to extract some pleasure from almost any kind of food.”  For example, the Aymara of Peru possess genes that predispose them to despise bitterness, yet “their diets depended on a highly bitter strain of potatoes.  So they liked them.”  Ultimately, necessity and culture defeated their genetic predisposition (McQuaid, 2015).

Sidney Mintz also expresses his doubts that a human preference for sugar (a major ingredient in almost all chocolate) lead to the proliferation of sugar around the globe: “That human beings like the taste of sweetness does not explain why some eat immense quantities of sweet foods and others hardly any… There is nothing ‘natural’ or inevitable about these ‘processes’ [of adopting flavor preferences]; they have no inbuilt dynamic of their own” (Mintz, 1986).  Applying this logic to the survey volunteers, it can be suggested that the preference to Hershey’s and Cadbury is due to a lack of necessity and cultural pressure to enjoy bitter chocolate.  This is not difficult to imagine through the lens of Big Chocolate’s business model and ethics.

Chocolate’s history has undergone several drastic changes.  Where it was once solely available to Mesoamericans in Pre-Columbian times, it moved to Europe as a status symbol drunk by elites and eventually became a widely available treat in multiple cultures across the globe.  How this happened is a tale of several factors that include benign technological advances as well as pervasive slave labor.  Much, if not all, the cacao used for chocolate during the Industrial Revolution was harvested by slaves in the New World as “enslaved people were more valuable than indentured because their labor was purchased for life rather than for a limited period of years and the children of enslaved women were declared slaves at birth” (Higman, 2011).  Even after abolition, slave labor persisted in various forms such as indentured labor and debt servitude.  When journalists confronted the Cadbury company in the early 1900s with evidence that they were purchasing cacao from plantations utilizing slave labor, Cadbury did very little to change the status quo, instead hiring its own agent to investigate African plantation practices four years after first hearing rumors of slave labor in Africa.  In four years, the Cadbury company had “accomplished nothing for the slaves who produced the cocoa beans” (Satre, 2005).

By lowering the cost of labor, companies are able to save on production costs and lower the price for consumers, allowing their chocolate to become more widely available on the global market.  As seen by the Hershey’s and Cadbury wrappers used in the survey, neither has fair trade certifications that indicate better ethical business practices compared to their contemporary peers who attempt to solely purchase cacao from farmers and farming cooperatives ensuring child-free labor practices (among other things).  As seen in the figure below, Cadbury Royal Dark and Hershey’s Special Dark are at least 40% cheaper per ounce than their fair trade competitors (Endangered, Trader Joe’s, and Green & Black’s).

Chocolate Prices
Price per ounce of the 8 chocolate samples.

Creating a wider consumer audience was also accomplished with clever business tactics.  For example, Mars’ Milky Way was a creation specifically designed to skimp on expensive quality chocolate but still be considered tasty to consumers.  Forrest Mars recounted this about his father and the Milky Way bar: “He has a candy bar.  And it’s a chocolate malted drink.  He put some caramel on top of it, and some chocolate around it – not very good chocolate, he was buying cheap chocolate – but that damn thing sold.  No advertising.”  The Milky Way was strikingly different from its competitors because the malt-flavored nougat was the bar’s main ingredient.  It made the bar “much bigger, tasted just as chocolatey, but cost much less to produce.”  Forrest Mars bragged, “People walked up to the candy counter and they’d see this flat little Hershey bar for a nickel and right next to it a giant Milky Way.  Guess which one they’d pick?” (Brenner, 2000).

Due to competitive business practices between the various Big Chocolate companies, the American market is saturated with cheap chocolate.  There is also little incentive to purchase chocolate for cultural reasons, the other would-be defender of bitter flavors.  Unfortunately, American society has a less significant cultural history (comparatively speaking) associated with chocolate as “the institution of the chocolate or coffee-house seems never to have crossed the Atlantic to England’s North American colonies.”  Coffee and chocolate houses were hotbeds of sedition in England where men would drink chocolate or coffee and politically foment.  However, “parliamentary democracy did not extend to the colonies, and Americans were isolated from the give-and-take and political deals that were the daily fare of enfranchised Englishmen in [chocolate and coffee] establishments… The colonial well-to-do took their chocolate, but at home,” away from society at large (Coe & Coe, 2013).  This can be seen reflected in the fact that Americans consume less chocolate per person per year (9.5 pounds) than several European countries (UK = 16.3 pounds, Switzerland = 19.8 pounds, Germany = 17.4 pounds, and the Netherlands = 10.4 pounds) (McCarthy, 2015).

At this point, it should be noted that of the 9 participants who preferred the Hershey’s and Cadbury samples, 8 were born in the United States and 1 in Asia (which exhibits different chocolate consumption habits and preferences than in the West) (Allen, 2010).  All European-born participants favored the more bitter chocolates.  Unfortunately, only 15 individuals completed this section of the form, which does not make the survey particularly scientifically or statistically significant.  In future, it would be far more interesting to gather a larger number of participants.

HEALTH PERCEPTIONS

A far lesser but generally accepted theme among the participants was the perception of dark chocolate’s health benefits.  This was displayed during one particular key moment.  A few individuals expressed slight hesitation in joining the sampling due to dieting concerns.  “It’s not my cheat day,” one said of his regimen.  “Oh, don’t worry,” another participant exclaimed, “it’s all dark chocolate, so it’s healthy.”  On the one hand, the vacillating participants had a sense that eating dark chocolate broke their diet.  But then there were colleagues purporting that dark chocolate was healthy enough to break his diet. That was all that seemed necessary for the individual to become a volunteer and join the sampling party with his colleagues.

Unfortunately, the health benefits of chocolate have been vastly sensationalized as contemporary popular “claims confer on chocolate the properties of being a stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, aphrodisiac, tonic, and antidepressant” (Bisson et al., 2013).  The woman in the video below is a prime example.

However, for every study suggesting positive benefits, there is a study to suggest that no significant effect is present at all.  For example, one study found that cocoa lowered blood pressure in patients with coronary artery disease, but then “a double-blind placebo trial using flavanol-rich cocoa beverages with natural or added theobromine, concluded that although after 2 [hours] of consumption the central systolic [blood pressure] was significantly lowered by the theobromine-added beverage, the [24-hour] ambulatory or central [blood pressure] was not affected.”  Consumers could theoretically just consume theobromine (a compound found in cacao) in chocolate every 2 hours, but that would mean ingesting a significant amount of calories, which provides its own set of health consequences.  David Benton summarizes this phenomenon succinctly:

“Chocolate contains a range of compounds… These include caffeine, phenylethylamine, magnesium, and anandamide.  A common reason why they are unlikely to have any significant impact is that with any likely consumption of chocolate they are certain to be provided in a dose that is inactive.  For example, to consume the minimal active dose of 1g of phenylethalmine one would need to rapidly eat 15kg of chocolate.  In addition, to prevent its breakdown by the liver the taking of a monoamine oxidase inhibitor is to be recommended… [O]ne would need to consume 25kg of chocolate to obtain a psychoactive dose of anandamide” (2004).

However, participants and readers should not be discouraged.  While much of dark chocolate’s health benefits are not firmly established, it is true “that dark chocolate ‘does no harm,’ to use the Hippocratic phrase – at least to humans… Dark chocolate does not cause diabetes, dental caries, or acne, or produce headaches, as sometimes has been alleged” (Coe & Coe, 2007).

CONCLUSION

Participants in a novel chocolate tasting experience reinforced historical and contemporary trends prevalent in the chocolate industry.  These included the two themes of preferring sweet chocolate to dark chocolate and contradictory notions of dark chocolate’s health benefits.  The first theme revealed Big Chocolate’s history in slavery and dubious business practices as a potential explanation to consumers’ preference of sweet chocolate as opposed to the more obvious reason that humans naturally prefer the taste of sweetness.  The second theme featured the contradictory health notions associated with dark chocolate as described by participants’ hesitation to join the chocolate sampling.  To further improve the results, more participants could be used to capture more statistically significant data to make the analysis more robust.

REFERENCES

Allen, Lawrence. (2010). Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallet of China’s Consumers. New York: American Management Association.

Benton, David. (2004). “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving.” Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Bisson, Jean-Francois, et al. (2013). “Clinical Benefits of Cocoa: An Overview.” Chocolate in Health and Nutrition. New York: Humana Press.

Brenner, Joel. (2000). The Emperor of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars. New York: Broadway Books.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. (2007). The True History of Chocolate (3rd ed.). New York: Thames and Hudson.

Higman, B.W. (2011). A Concise History of the Caribbean. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

McCarthy, Niall. (2015). “The World’s Biggest Chocolate Consumers [Infographic].” Forbes. Retrieved May 9, 2018 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/07/22/the-worlds-biggest-chocolate-consumers-infographic/#6bb1038f4484.

McQuaid, John. (2015). “Why Do We Like Bitter Foods?” Slate. Retrieved May 9, 2018 from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/01/why_do_we_like_bitter_foods.html.

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

Satre, Lowell J. (2005). Chocolate on Trial: Slavery, Politics, and the Ethics of Business. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

 

*** Many thanks to all the volunteers who sat down after a long day of work to eat chocolate and share their thoughtful opinions.

The Chocolate Interview: Impact of Chocolate’s Role

To understand chocolate’s impact on our lives, I interviewed a friend who happens to be a chocolate lover. Her profession is interior design so she likes quality products, therefore it was no surprise that her high-standards extended to the world of chocolate. It was a very insightful conversation, which started off with her weekly consumption habits. I wanted to gage how it compared with the average consumer’s consumption level. Considering she loves chocolate, I was quite taken abackButton Hill Cottage pic when she answered with such precision that she consumes three ounces of chocolate per week, which equates to almost ten pounds of chocolate per year. At first glance, I thought that seemed pretty low. But I recall from Dr. Martin’s lecture, stating that in 2016, consumers in the US ate 12 pounds of chocolate per person on average. So my friend was pretty much in the ballpark!

The chocolate that she tends to gravitate towards is dark chocolate because she says it has a higher cacao content. Interestingly enough, her go-to chocolate is not actual chocolate bars, rather it is baked goods, followed by drinking chocolate and then chocolate bars.

Indulgence Chocolatier picThough when it comes to dark chocolate, she emphasized it must be 70 percent or less in cacao content because beyond that, she does not enjoy it. To the left is a photo of the chocolate she buys when she does buy chocolate bars, though she admits that she isn’t brand-loyal. In keeping with her belief system, she tends to support small local businesses like this one. What struck me the most is when she informed me that she does not pay close attention to the ingredients as a deciding factor when purchasing anything with chocolate. But she had a logical reason, since her purchases are weighted heavier on baked goods, as it relates to chocolate, she tends to buy from local bakeries because she believes they use higher grades of chocolate and ingredients. Below is a video on the popularity of bakeries due to their characteristics of quality.

I proceeded to ask if she perceived organic chocolate to be superior in taste. While she has never done a comparison of either organic versus non-organic, her assumption was that organic must taste better since it’s being produced in a healthier way. In other words, it was pesticide-free, therefore since it was better quality, it should taste better. Though she readily admitted that she did not have a clear understanding of organic, her understanding was mostly that it had less chemicals. This exchange with my friend reminded me of Guthman’s “Fast Food/Organic Food” article in which she talks about California’s organic salad mix craze. After all, it was salad mix that jump-started California’s organic sectorganic sulfuros blog.wordpressor and it helped establish organic food as a precious, niche product (Guthman, 497). The equation of organic with high value brought a rash of new growers into the sector. While pesticides are not used, there are still fertility needs to be met and though the fertilizer may be organic, it may still have an undesirable consequence. In the case of baby greens, some fertilizers are known to destroy micro-organisms and contribute to ground water pollution, as Guthman cites. Though in the case of cacao, micro-organisms go to work, stirring into about four hundred different chemicals and organic substances that transform a bland bean into the raw material that is the essence of what makes chocolate seductive (Off, 3).

So when it comes to cacao farming, organic is also touted as better. Most folks are no different than my friend in their belief that organic chocolate must taste better. Though in reality, it’s a false assurance of quality since something can be organic while simultaneously being of lesser quality. For instance, as we learned in one of Dr. Martin’s lectures, in most instances the best chocolate may be sent abroad, while the lesser quality chocolate may be sold locally. A good example of this is the Cocoa Processing Company (or Golden Tree Ghana) in Ghana, which produce chocolate bars but the lesser quality stays in Ghana, while the best stuff is sent to other countries. Another Ghanaian company known as Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company is actually headquartered in Milwaukee and is mostly sold in the US, but the chocolate is made in Ghana. Since its purpose is to be sold, primarily, in the United States, it is understood the chocolate will be of higher quality.

It is important to keep in mind that just because something is not labeled organic does not mean it is not organic and that it’s of lesser quality. Simply, organic certification can be obstacles for many small independent producers who cannot afford the expense of being certified. Below is a video of an organic chocolate producer that not only describes its process from harvesting of cacao to retail packaging, but it goes so far as to tout its health benefits and its importance to the local community. My friend made it clear to me that she does not buy chocolate on its perceived health benefits, but simply because she loves the taste of chocolate.

Indeed, organic does not equate to fair trade, as the conditions in California’s lettuce industry relied on marginalized immigrant workers. In cacao farming, the conditifair-trade-logoons are no better and in certain parts of the world, they are quite worse by the use of child trafficking and slavery. When I asked my friend to tell me what she knew about fair trade, her response was that “ideally farmers were paid a living wage and did not engage in child labor.” In a nutshell, she was pretty accurate. Products that bear the fair trade certified logo, pictured on the right, come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated.

In 2009, there was a study done by Tulane University and it found that 1 million children in Ghana worked on cocoa-related activities in 2008, and less than 10 percent of them were actually paid. According to Dr. Martin, she stated that in 2013/14, over 2 million children were involved in hazardous work in Ghana and Côte d’lvoire. Unfortunately, Côte d’lvoire has been a haven for violence, particularly in the coveted cocoa groves, where much of the fighting has been over ownership of cocoa-producing land, as conflicting interests vie for control of its agricultural wealth (Off, 4). But the most horrific headlines have been the trafficking of children from Mali into Côte d’lvoire. Young boys were almost worked to death with very little to eat and slept in bunkhouses that were locked during the night. They were also frequently beaten and worked at gunpoint (Off, 121). While there has been some efforts to curtail child labor, not enough has been done considering the amount of cacao that is supplying the five major chocolate companies (Hershey’s, Nestle, Mars, Ferrero, and Cadbury), and hence, they are extremely profitable at the expense of human rights in West Africa.

Though, there is a silver lining for some farmers in West Africa who want to do things differently. The key is a new ecologically-based, natural resource management approach known as agroforestry. This system cuts costs and labor for farmers while promoting the integration of diverse food and timber. To learn more about agroforestry, click here.

I asked my friend where she thought the majority of cacao came from and she replied South/Central America. She was quite stunned when I informed her that almost 75 percent is actually coming from West Africa. She has never visited a region that produces chocolate nor has taken a chocolate tour. But this week, we will be meeting up to do a chocolate tasting and I will be extending some of the knowledge I gained from this class. In the meantime, I sent her on a mission to find the Omanhene chocolate bar that Dr. Martin mentioned during her lecture, since my friend lives in Milwaukee where the company has its headquarters, so that we may taste chocolate that is made in Ghana. She completed her mission in record-time! No sooner than I mentioned it and she had gone to the store and purchased it. Here’s a picture she sent me to prove it. Lol!

Omanhene chocolate back

When asked if chocolate serves as a comfort food for her, she replied, “definitely.” And she’s not alone in this, as David Benton argues, chocolate is by far the most common food item that people crave, especially when they are emotionally distressed. He adds that the attraction of chocolate lies in its taste (Benton, 206). In a study Benton carried out, he discovered some insights into the relationship between negative mood and chocolate craving. Essentially those who craved chocolate displayed a weakness for chocolate when under emotional stress. Some of the reasons he discovered in his study uncovered responses that dealt with being bored, upset, or feeling down. Interestingly enough, Robert Albritton argues that the ideal food ingredient for profit purposes is something that is cheap and that consumers crave (Albritton, 344). He says that sweetness is the most desired taste which makes sense and as a result, it’s what makes chocolate more appealing. Below is a video created by a non-for-profit class that spoofs the lengths that companies will go to, to make us crave their product. It’s actually not far off from what companies do on a regular basis to prey on our senses.

After taking this class, it’s made me more inquisitive in everything relating to chocolate. It takes me much longer to get through the chocolate aisle as I pay particular attention to what labels are on the packaging and what ingredients are in the chocolate. It’s also made me curious on how others perceive chocolate, which is why I asked my friend if the words cacao and cocoa represented the same thing to her. She answered, yes. But in fact, there is a slight difference. Historically, the word cacao has been used to define the raw material from the cacao tree. While the word cocoa is the Anglicization of the word cacao, but it’s most commonly used to refer to the commodity once it has been processed. The use of the word cacao instead of cocoa is symbolically important in the niche, fine-cacao chocolate community, where it’s a point of distinction from bulk commodity cocoa (Dr. Martin lecture).

After interviewing my friend for this project, it was quite clear that she buys chocolate for its taste but is also meticulous in her shopping habits, particularly when it comes to her shopping behavior. She leans heavily towards buying local products and supporting small businesses, which she perceives as higher quality than mass-produced cocoa in bulk. While there wasn’t a difference to her in the words cacao and cocoa, it was apparent that she is more into the niche products which would fit in with the definition of cacao. It was clear that she looks for quality chocolate based on her revelations during our interview. I hope through my brief conversation with her, I was able to impart some newfound knowledge on chocolate and perhaps, moving forward, she will be able to look at it through a different lens, when in the chocolate aisle. I am in anticipation to continue the conversation with her through our chocolate tasting this week, and see her reaction to the various nuances of flavor in chocolate. It will be interesting to see what words she’ll use to describe some of the uniqueness that is inherent by some chocolate producers. If I am allowed to write a follow-up post to this chocolate blog for fun since the class will be over by then, I will happily do so. Until then, happy chocolate tasting to my friend and I!

 

Works Cited

Albritton, Robert. “Between Obesity and Hunger: The Capitalist Food Industry.” Food and Culture (Routledge, New York, NY, 2013), pp. 342-352

Benton, David. “The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving.” Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain (CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL, 2004), pp. 205-218

Guthman, Julie. “Fast Food/Organic Food: Reflexive Tastes and the Making of Yuppie Chow.” Food and Culture (Routledge, New York, NY, 2013), pp. 496-509

Off, Carol. Bitter Chocolate the Dark Side of the World’s Most Seductive Sweet (The New Press, New York, NY, 2008)

Works Consulted

Geffner, Dana. “Cocoa Farming: The Key to Reversing Deforestation in West Africa.” Huffington Post, (Jan. 2018) Online.

Image and Video Credits

Chocolate Sign image: http://www.buttonhillcottage.com

Indulgence Chocolate image: friend took photo, 2018

“A Few Great Bakeries.” PBS video, August, 2015

Organic image: http://www.organicsulfurosblog.wordpress.com

“Cacao Organic Growing and Harvesting.” Navitas video, September, 2010

Fair Trade Certified logo image: http://www.fairtradecertified.org

Omanhene chocolate bar image: friend took photo, 2018

Not-for-Profit class video: Nutella Advert, created by Emilie Thoreson on vimeo, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Theo

Theo Bromine. He’s bitter, but sometimes he can cheer you up if you’re having a bad day at work. Others call him an alkaloid. His real name is Theo Bromine. Those in the cacao industry know him as one word – theobromine. Traces of theobromine can be found in cacao. Cacao is the raw product, it takes ten stages before it becomes chocolate. The effect of consuming cacao is similar to caffeine, it gives you that instant boost of energy. The origin of Theobroma cacao trees can be found in the Brazilian Amazon where cacao is a big part of Brazil’s economic and cultural history.

Cacao trees are pretty finicky. They need warm climate, hot, but not too hot. Most of the production of cacao is in West Africa – 72%, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana to be exact. Because of climate change, there are elevating temperatures and a possibility that the cacao crops could be eliminated. If you’ve avoided the conversation around climate change, scrolled down when you saw the crying polar bears on social media, grimaced when you heard your neighbor bought a Prius,  and slept through a class showing of An Inconvenient Truth, now is the time to pay attention to climate change. Why? Because your chocolate consumption could be seriously affected.

cacao tree
Cacao Tree

Factors affecting the cacao industry:

Many factors, not just climate change, affect the cacao industry: droughts, floods, infestation, demand, and evapotranspiration. Rising temperatures alone will not impact cacao production, evapotranspiration (loss of moisture because of the high temperature) does. With the higher temperatures expected by the year 2050 precipitation/rainfall isn’t a guarantee. Brazil was once ranked second as the largest cacao producer, today they rank sixth. The decline in cacao production is due to the fungus that causes witch’s broom. In order for a cacao farmer to have a successful crop, trees have to be disease resistant. Hershey’s and Mars, Inc. have already classified the cacao genome which could improve the resiliency of cacao trees.

The Rainforest Alliance is a non-governmental organization/NGO that assists farmers with sustainable lifestyles. Its mission is to work with the smallholder cacao farmers to help with these issues. Some cacao farmers have already taken the suggestions to switch to alternative crops, lucrative ones such as rubber and/or palm oil. What if all farmers in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana switched at the same pace? The world could face the possibility of a million ton cacao shortage by 2020, this according to The Earth Security Group, a sustainability consulting firm registered in the United Kingdom.

Global demand for chocolate is another factor because of their interest in confectionery. The chocolate market has been trending towards higher prices over the last 10 years with the market increasing by 13% between 2010-2015, farmers’ share has decreased during this time. It is estimated that by the year 2030, chocolate will be a delicacy, like caviar, and your average Joe, or Jane, won’t be able to purchase it. Heavy marketing leads to heavy demand. How do we equate the 13% to a dollar value, try $100 billion, according to Euromonitor, a market research firm.

Unfortunately, cacao trees cannot keep up with the rapid demands of consumers, it takes three to five years at best to produce cacao beans, the end result of this long, strenuous process is chocolate. The amount we consume (11+ pounds of chocolate is consumed annually by individuals in Europe and the United States) far outweighs the amount that is produced, leading to a shortage of chocolate. In the news lately, Necco, the company that manufactures Necco Wafers, Sky Bar, Mary Jane, and Sweethearts is filing for bankruptcy. If we are heading towards chocolate becoming a delicacy I must warn you: start hoarding all of your candy because it will cost you a pretty penny in the not-so-distant future. Call me Ms. Gloomanddoom, but remember the recent avocado crisis in Mexico, we may have a chocolate crisis next.

Global warming and climate change have been topics widely discussed for years. In a recent TED Talk with Mark Bittman, he commented that global warming is real and dangerous and reminds us that we should stop eating things thoughtlessly. This includes chocolate. Greenhouse gas, methane gas, water shortages, oh my!

How’d we get here? Well, it all started with British commodities: sugar, tea, and tobacco. These were popular due to the transatlantic movement, transporting these commodities by African slaves. Chocolate began in Mesoamerica and dates back to 350 BC. It was consumed as a hot beverage served in ghourds and as time progressed in fancy porcelain cups by the most affluent during the Baroque Age. The British didn’t like the bitter taste of the chocolate so they re-created the taste by adding sugar to it. 

Early entrepreneurs:

I would have loved to interview the early entrepreneurs like Dorothy Jones who was granted a license to operate a coffee house in Boston in 1670. Women wouldn’t be caught dead in a coffee house and she got a license. Slay girl slay. Despite my research at the Massachusetts Historical Society I was not able to locate the actual license or the coffee house, but I did find one reference to it in the Record Commissioners City of Boston records from 1660 to1701. It may be that Dorothy Jones was a vendor and did not actually have a storefront. If there was a storefront, I would have to guess that it was located in the area of what’s now known as Downtown Crossing in Boston. Newspaper Row was in that area during 1670 and it makes sense that the coffee house would be close by. To be continued.

IMG_7359
Dorothy Jones, 1670

 

The role of chocolate:

Liquid consumption of chocolate morphed into candy consumption and as time went on the global market consumed it. Pun intended. Chocolate consumes us and plays a variety of roles in our lives. Part of my research included interviews with three females, all of whom are my closest friends spanning four decades, who gave me permission to share their stories. Names have been changed. Three questions were asked of each woman: what is their relationship with chocolate, what role it played in their life, and how chocolate’s significance has changed or stayed the same over time. Analysis of the social and historical issues were revealed during these interviews. 

I begin my interview with Pepper, 40-something. We’ve been friends for 15 years, so when she said “you’ll be disappointed, I don’t have a relationship with chocolate, at all. I can take it or leave it”. I thought, um what? Was I dreaming that she ate the special occasion, Halloween,Valentine’s Day, Christmas, because-it’s-Friday chocolate our coworkers brought in and placed in that fancy bowl they bought at the dollar store. When I asked her to elaborate on her statement I mentioned the documented ties to slavery, child labor and human trafficking, and the YouTube video The Dark Side of Chocolate, she said she “had no idea chocolate was involved in so much trauma and political unrest”.

Pepper went on, “I do eat it, but I don’t crave it. I like it sometimes; hot chocolate, candy bars with other things mixed in, the very occasional Dove piece, alone, but only when it happens to be laying there… I just don’t crave it. If I have any cravings, it would be the occasional hot chocolate, but only because it comforts me and makes me feel like autumn and of course, I am addicted to mochas which are chocolate and coffee together. So in that, I suppose it does play a role. But I still drink regular coffee too”.

“I always think the cultural references to chocolate/women/weakness/food orgasm are ridiculous. I’ve always thought to myself what’s the big deal, it’s just chocolate. It’s probably because I hate being stereotyped and the chocolate/women/weakness/food orgasm stereotype that society and commercials seem to paint just piss me off because I like to feel like I’m more dimensional than that. It makes women seem weak and easy to manipulate and shallow”.

“If you’re telling me that the chocolate trade perpetuates and supports slavery then I’m quitting it. My husband says I now have chocolate angst, or chocolate rage”.

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Stereotype

I was curious as to why Pepper immediately responded with “craving” when I asked about chocolate. I love how she mentioned hot chocolate and frothy drinks and her addiction to mochas. There’s some truth to why we love frothy drinks. In ancient times, drinks were put in vessels and buried with loved ones who have since passed on. It was said that the froth went with the deceased to the afterlife.

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Frothy cacao drink

Culture also played a role in Pepper’s response when she said she ate chocolate “alone”, as did her anger when she felt the stereotype which reminded me of the article I read by Kristy Leissle, Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements. Ghanaian women were photographed, not your typical glamour-shot, but were depicted as strong powerful business leaders, not in binary terms. These pictures reflect the necessary change in the narrative. Viewers are able to look beyond the exploitative market and view these women as they should be viewed, strong and powerful leaders in a transnational community. Many of the ads you see in the United States show women eating chocolate, alone, sinfully displayed like in the movie Chocolat, and almost always with some sort of sexual undertone throughout the ad. The ancient Aztecs believed chocolate was an aphrodisiac, science wasn’t quite onboard with that theory. Advertisers still link romance with chocolate.

Key words: comfort, craving, frothy drinks, stereotypes

My second interview was with Sunny, 60-something. Sunny said that she “definitely has had a relationship with chocolate throughout her childhood and adulthood and as a mom. Chocolate has been present in celebratory events, holidays & vacations. For holidays, chocolate snowmen & coins were placed in her children’s Christmas stockings, at Easter, chocolate eggs & bunnies were found on Easter egg hunts, and on Valentine’s Day chocolate hearts were given out as gifts. I have such happy Halloween memories as a kid trading candy bars” Sunny said with a beaming smile; kid’s birthday gift bags full of candy, & candy store visits while on vacation. And Hershey kisses, just because! Chocolate is present at happy events, there to cheer up, decrease stress and soothe a foul mood. At this point in my life I have less consumption/purchase of chocolate, children have grown and they are more health conscious and do not consume. I currently eat it more out of stress reduction and comfort while at work”.

“In chatting, this makes me take pause reflecting on the important role chocolate has played in my life. I think of my all-time favorite candy bar….”Sky Bar”! Sadly, I hadn’t chatted with Sunny about the recent Necco bankruptcy. She better stock up on Sky Bars or they will be a literal memory.

For Sunny, chocolate was a staple in her life until recently. It explains why she can’t pass up a Hershey’s Kiss. These sweet kisses are known as a “cradle-to-grave brand loyalty”. Once you consume them you pretty much do so for your entire life. Great marketing, for a kiss that contains only 11% cacao.

Sunny mentioned that chocolate was used a reward for good behavior with her children. More importantly she eats it when stressed and that it provides her comfort. Sunny has fond memories of chocolate, her visits to candy shops while on vacation and the role candy plays during holidays. I could see the melancholy in her eyes when she described her favorite candy bar. I think the melancholy was also related to her children growing up and that the fun role of chocolate was outweighed by her stressful days at work. Chocolate has been known to have therapeutic properties dating back to ancient times.

Key words: comfort, childhood, vacations, holidays

Raspberry Rose, 20-something was my last interview. “So I’ve never been a HUGE chocolate person. I’ve always preferred sweet candy over chocolate, but I definitely indulge when I’m craving it! Chocolate tends to play the role of a comfort food…there’s always that time of the month where all I want is some chocolate caramels and a glass of wine 🙂 it also has some memories tied to it – for example I remember when I was growing up, my mom and I loved to eat 3 Musketeers bars and none of my friends liked those so on Halloween I would take them from all my friends to give to my mom 🙂 My relationship with chocolate has stayed the same!  I definitely eat less of it than I did when I was younger, but that’s the only change”!

My thoughts after chatting with Raspberry Rose was wow, she too used the words craving and comfort and had similar feelings and fond memories of chocolate while growing up.

Key words: craving, comfort, childhood memories, halloween

Statistically, women do crave chocolate more than men. While it’s not the chocolate per se, it’s the ingredients like magnesium and antioxidants you may be lacking that make you crave it. The calming qualities that come from consuming chocolate is because of the increased levels of serotonin #instanthappiness. Culture plays a factor in cravings, it’s a trend here in the United States and frequently talked about that women crave chocolate, one major reason chocolate companies target women.

According to the article Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain by Ashtrid Nehlig, there was one chapter by David Benton devoted to The Biology and Psychology of Chocolate Craving. While many people associate themselves with being a chocaholic, there is no scientific evidence to show that chocolate is addictive. It has “drug-like” qualities though and can cheer you up if you’re sad or had a bad day at the office.

All of my friends were shocked that chocolate had ties to slavery, child labor, and human trafficking and were unaware of the cacao process. I am happy to report that  they are very interested in learning more. I  realized that I  need to spread the word about the cacao industry and this inspired me to create a podcast which should be on iTunes very soon. It’s about my three favs, Coffee, Chocolate & Cats.

Key words correlate with the research that I found. I do hope that one day the cacao farmers are paid at a more equitable rate, that we help the environment and know more about the bean to bar process, and that we can enjoy our chocolate, complicit-free.

Works cited

Kristy Leissle (2012): Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements, Journal of African Cultural Studies, 24:2, 121-139

Emma Robertson (2009): Chocolate, women and empire. A social and cultural history. Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York.

Norton, M. “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics.” The American Historical Review, vol. 111, no. 3, 2006, pp. 660–691., doi:10.1086/ahr.111.3.660.

Hudson, Bradford. “The Cradle of American Hospitality » Boston Hospitality Review | Blog Archive | Boston University.” Boston Hospitality Review RSS, 2012, www.bu.edu/bhr/2012/09/01/the-cradle-of-american-hospitality/

Bittman, Mark. “What’s Wrong with What We Eat.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, Dec. 2007, www.ted.com/talks/mark_bittman_on_what_s_wrong_with_what_we_eat.

“Scientists Say Climate Change May Make Chocolate Extinct By 2050.” YouTube, 2 Jan. 2018, youtu.be/sm9kQdKOnKE.

City of Boston (1881). A Report of the Record Commissioners of the

City of Boston, Containing the Boston Records from 1660 to 1701.

Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, Page 58

(Mass.)., Boston. “A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston Containing the Boston Records from 1660 to 1701.” HathiTrust, 2018, babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=bc.ark%3A%2F13960%2Ft3514s13f%3Bview.

Nehlig, Astrid. Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and the Brain. CRC Press, 2004.

“Challenges.” Challenges | World Cocoa Foundation, 2018, http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/about-cocoa/challenges/.

CNBC’s Katy Barnato and Luke Graham. “Future of the Chocolate Industry Looks Sticky.” CNBC, CNBC, 24 Mar. 2016, http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/24/future-of-the-chocolate-industry-looks-sticky.html.

“Chocolate Makers Warn That the World Is Running out of Chocolate.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 17 Nov. 2014, http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2014/11/17/chocolate-makers-warn-that-world-is-running-out-chocolate.html.

“Cocoa Bean Production” , Cargill, 2018, http://www.cargill.com/sustainability/cocoa/the-changing-world-of-cocoa

“The Dark Side of Chocolate – Child Slavery.” The Dark Side of Chocolate – Child Slavery, Brethen Voices, 2012, youtu.be/p8j2l-3TxTg.

 

Chocolate Tasting: Creating Conscientious Consumers Through Increased Awareness

After spending a semester studying the history, culture and politics of chocolate at Harvard University with Professor Carla D. Martin, I decided to host a chocolate tasting to put to test what had been presented in class and in our readings. My invitation to the tasting was enthusiastically accepted by several friends who love, of course, all things chocolate. My goal was threefold: to educate them about the anatomy of a chocolate bar, to explore some of the issues facing the chocolate industry today, and to examine the packaging and significance of certifications.  By increasing their awareness of these topics, I hoped to inspire them to become more conscientious consumers.

THE TASTING

The challenge quickly became which chocolate bars to include in my taste test.  Walking down the aisles of a few local grocery and convenience stores proved daunting.  There were just so many bars to choose from.  In The New Taste of Chocolate, Maricel E. Presilla writes, “the face of chocolate has changed fantastically in the last few years in that shoppers now find themselves confronted with some bewildering choices” (p 126).  And bewildered I was. When surveying the multitude of labels, I considered ingredients, certifications, and messaging. Ultimately, I arrived at a sample of seventeen bars including three different milk chocolates, a few dark chocolates with varying amounts of cocoa, and a selection of bars with additional ingredients such as almonds, mint, caramels, and sugar substitutes.  I also included one raw cacao bar to see how it would fare.  In addition, I selected several bars that had specific certifications and messaging on their packaging to prompt discussion about the issues in the chocolate industry today.

I elected to host a blind taste test so that my friends could judge each chocolate free from pre-conceived notions, preferences, and packaging information.  I assigned each bar a letter and created a spreadsheet which the participants used to record their results.  I instructed them to use all of their senses to fully experience each chocolate bar.  First, they looked at each sample for color and sheen.  They then smelled the chocolate to enjoy the aroma.  After breaking each sample to experience the “snap”, they tasted them.  My group proved to be very enthusiastic and shared their findings with great description using terms such as “sweet,” “too sweet,” “artificial,” “chalky,” “salty,” “milky,” “creamy,” “delicious,” “nutty,” “fruity,” “bleh” and “awful.”

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The general consensus among this group was that they preferred dark chocolate to milk, and favored a bar with a cocoa content of around 70%, finding a bar with 85% cocoa too bitter. As a group of mostly affluent, educated and health conscious women, they liked bars with natural and organic ingredients rather than artificial flavors and soy lecithin.  In her article “Fresh off The Farm”, Patricia Unterman explains, “when you choose to eat organic and sustainably raised produce, a little karma rubs off on you and makes everything taste better,” which resonated with this group. I found it interesting that they all readily identified the Hershey’s milk chocolate bar and agreed it reminded them of their childhoods. Though they admitted they don’t regularly consume Hershey’s, they still enjoy it as a key ingredient in s’mores.  Most of them enjoyed chocolate bars with nuts, few liked fruit additives, and only one liked the raw bar.  Some were pleasantly surprised by the bars with the artificial sweetener Stevia. They considered them to be “less guilty” treats having no sugar and fewer calories.

BEYOND THE BAR

I concluded the tasting with an analysis of the packaging of the different bars. We looked at the manufacturer, their messaging, list of ingredients, bean origination and certifications. While some of the participants were familiar with the various certifications, most were not and only one was familiar with the issues present in the chocolate industry today. The group expressed a desire to gain a broader understanding of these issues so that they could be more discriminating in their choices and use their purchasing power to support the causes they felt most strongly about.  In Eating Out: Social Differentiation, Consumption and Pleasure, Warde and Martens note “consumption practices are driven by a conscious reflexivity such that people monitor, reflect upon and adapt their personal conduct in light of its perceived consequences.”

The industry today is fraught with many interrelated challenges including the worst forms of child labor, poverty, and sustainability to name a few, and certifications allow consumers to learn which chocolate companies support ethical and sustainable practices.  Worst forms of child labor include slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and any work by its nature that is harmful to the health, safety and morals of children (Martin, April 21). In The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty To Benefit The Rich , Ndogo Sylla explains child labor is extensively utilized in cacao harvesting and estimates that 2 million children work in the West African countries of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.  Cacao farmers labor under difficult circumstances and are subject to physical injury and exposure to toxic pesticides while earning on average $.50 to $.80 per day per capita making it virtually impossible to support a paid labor force or sustainable farming practices (Warde and Martens, p 497).

CERTIFICATIONS

The idea of fair trade dates back to the late 1940’s and has evolved over the past 70 years with the goal to reduce poverty through everyday shopping.  A multitude of organizations strive to tackle poverty in the poorest countries by improving workers’ social, economic and environmental conditions.  Others raise awareness and work to protect endangered species and the planet.  The images and links below represent some of the different certifications we discussed:

 

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Fairtrade International(FI) is a multi-stakeholder, non-profit organization focusing on the empowerment of producers and workers in developing countries through trade. Fairtrade International provides leadership, tools and services needed to connect producers and consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and work towards sustainable livelihoods. https://www.flocert.net/glossary/fairtrade-international-fairtrade-labelling-organizations-international-e-v/

Fair Trade Certified enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, fishermen, consumers, industry, and the earth. We achieve our mission by certifying and promoting Fair Trade products. https://www.fairtradecertified.org

Equal Exchange Equal Exchange’s mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world. http://equalexchange.coop/about

UTZ Certified shows UTZ stands for sustainable farming and better opportunities for farmers, their families and our planet. The UTZ program enables farmers to learn better farming methods, improve working conditions and take better care of their children and the environment.Through the UTZ program farmers grow better crops, generate more income and create better opportunities while safeguarding the environment and securing the earth’s natural resources.  Now and in the future, consumers that products have been sourced, from farm to shop shelf, in a sustainable manner. To become certified, all UTZ suppliers have to follow our Code of Conduct, which offers expert guidance on better farming methods, working conditions and care for nature. https://utz.org

Rainforest Alliance Our green frog certification seal indicates that a farm, forest, or tourism enterprise has been audited to meet standards that require environmental, social, and economic sustainability. It is a non-governmental organization (NGO) working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land- use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/faqs/what-does-rainforest-alliance-certified-mean

AND THE WINNER IS

After much deliberation, considering aroma, color, sheen, snap, flavor and texture, the group unanimously agreed the Hachez Cocoa D’Arriba 77% Classic was their favorite. One taster exclaimed, “It’s so creamy and the flavor is so rich.”

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THE HACHEZ STORY

Joseph Emile Hachez, a chocolatier of Belgian origin, established The Bremer HACHEZ Chocolade GmbH & Co. KG in 1890 in Bremen, Germany. Though the company has changed hands several times over the past century, Hachez remains one of the most well-regarded producers of superior chocolates in Germany. As highlighted on their packaging, “Hachez offers authentic chocolates of superior quality and craftsmanship-from the cocoa bean to the chocolate bar.”

“Still using the original recipes, they are one of the few German chocolate manufacturers to do everything in one location – from cleaning the cocoa beans to roasting them, molding the chocolate and packaging them. This allows them to oversee each stage of manufacturing to ensure every last piece of chocolate meets their high standards” (Chocoversum.de).

 

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About 100 hours of work are put into every cocoa bean which leaves the factory in Bremen as chocolate. The CHOCOVERSUM shows the tradition and the attention to detail, which is practiced in the HACHEZ chocolate factory in Bremen by over 350 employees on a daily basis. (Chocoversum.de)

 

Though their packaging displays no certifications or social, political or environmental messaging, Hachez belongs to both BDSI, the Association of German Confectionary, and GISCO, the German Institute on Sustainable Cocoa, which aim to address some of the issues facing the cacao industry today. The BDSI works to improve the standard of living for cocoa farmers and their families by promoting sustainable farming and education, and by offering loans to farmers to fund investments to increase productivity, quality and efficiency.  They find exploitive child labor practices unacceptable and are working with local communities to eliminate it through education and schooling. BDSI intends to boost the percent of sustainable cocoa in manufacturing to 50% by 2020 and to 70% by 2025 and to increase the share of responsibly produced cocoa in chocolate and confections sold in Germany.  Similarly, GISCO’s focus is to improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families and to conserve natural resources and biodiversity in cocoa producing countries.

THE ANATOMY OF A HACHEZ BAR

To understand the anatomy of any chocolate bar, it is essential to consider all of the ingredients and workers that contribute to the final product. The basis for chocolate is cacao, which is derived from the seed of the tree, Theobroma cacao, or “food-of-the-gods cacao.” These trees grow in a band around the world, hugging the equator, and thriving only where there are perfect temperatures and plentiful moisture (Off, p 10). Approximately 70% of the worlds cocoa comes from West African, in particular, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.  Latin America accounts for 16% of cocoa production and Asia and Oceana account for another 12%.  Over 10% of the global harvest is processed in Germany where Hachez is based.

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Farmers gently separate the cacao pods from the trees and crack them open to remove the pulp which encases the precious beans.  Once cleaned of debris, the beans and surrounding pulp are covered in banana leaves to begin the important process of fermentation which develops the flavor of the beans. The fermentation process can take between two and six days.  When fermentation is complete, the beans are dried, sorted and bagged for shipment.

At Hachez, they claim to use only the finest cocoa varieties from farmers whom they consider to be socially responsible, environmentally friendly and practice sustainable farming. The unique flavor characteristics of the variety of beans they use reflect their terroir, “loosely translated as ‘a sense of place,’ which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment and people have had on the production of the product” (Martin, April 18).

Upon receiving the beans, Hachez’s chocolatiers sort them and run them through a machine to remove stones, sticks, and other foreign substances.  Next, the beans are “roasted in traditional drums using hot air currents to extract the optimal development of flavor and aroma” (Chocoverse.de). After a winnower separates the husks from the nibs, Hachez grinds the nibs specifically to a granular diameter of .0014 mm to produce a more delicate texture. Next, the chocolate is put through a conche for up to 72 hours to reduce the size of the particles in order to fully refine the aroma and to enhance the smoothness and delicate consistency. The chocolate is then tempered: “the temperature of the mass is raised, then carefully lowered so that the crystal structure of the fat may be destroyed to prevent the bar from becoming blotchy and granular, with a poor color.  Tempering remains a vital step in the manufacture of the finest quality chocolate” (Coe and Coe, p 248). The end result is a chocolate bar with great aroma, sheen, snap, flavor and texture.  As one taster exclaimed, “This bar is amazing.  The rich flavor and creamy texture make it the best one by far.”

CONCLUSION

Near the end of the tasting, we explored the health benefits of chocolate when consumed responsibly.  Chocolate with the greatest health benefits has a minimum 70% cacao, is organic, has limited amounts of cocoa butter and added fats, and is enjoyed in small amounts of about 2 oz. per day (Martin, April 11). Scientists have identified in cacao antioxidant properties which reduce disease causing free radicals. Antioxidants like this help ward off cancer, repair damaged cells, and impact the effects of aging.  Dark chocolate in particular is high in polyphenols and flavonoids providing a large dose of antioxidants per serving.  Flavanols, the main type of flavonoid found in dark chocolate, also are known to positively affect heart health because they help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.

The tasters left feeling much smarter about the bean to bar process, more aware of the issues facing the chocolate industry today, enlightened about the health benefits of dark chocolate, and most important, empowered as shoppers.  I would argue I succeeded in turning them into conscientious consumers.

 

Works Cited

Coe, Sphie D. and Michael D. Coe, The True History of Chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2006 (3rd Edition).

Mintz, Sydney W., Sweetness and Power. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1985.

Off, Carol, Bitter Chocolate, Anatomy of an Industry. New York: The New Press, 2014.

Martin, Carla D.  “Modern Day Slavery”, Harvard University, AAS E119, March 21, 2018.

Martin, Carla D. “Health, Nutrition, and Politics of Food”, Harvard University, AAS E119, April 11, 2018.

Martin, Carla D. “Psychology, Terroir and Taste”, Harvard University, AAS E119,  April 18, 2018.

Presilla, Maricel E., The New Taste of Chocolate Revised. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2001.

Unterman, Patricia, “Fresh off the Farm”, SF Examiner, Aug 20, 2000.

Warde, A. and I. Martens, Eating Out: Social Differentiation, Consumption and Pleasure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Sylla, Ndongo Samba. The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty To Benefit The Rich. 1st ed. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University, 2014.

Chocoversum by Hachez. https://www.chocoversum.de/en/

Association of the German Confectionary Industry. https://www.bdsi.de

German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa. https://www.kakaoforum.de/en/

 

 

 

 

 

Faulty Fair Trade: The Hidden Realities of Fair Trade Chocolate

In today’s interconnected world, one’s decisions are no longer decisions merely. Every choice is a statement, a declaration of personal values. For example, purchasing a Prius or installing solar panels can reveal your stance regarding the state of the environment. In a similar fashion, purchasing Fair Trade certified chocolate provides an option for chocolate lovers to enjoy a delicious treat while contributing to the well-being of cacao farmers and indirectly shunning “bad” chocolate companies that utilize modern day slave labor. In fact, one research showed that consumers sought the Fair Trade label to a point that they were willing to purchase the same amount of certified Fair Trade chocolate each year, even after an increase in prices (Hainmeuller 23).

Above: Promotion of Fair Trade chocolate for Valentine’s Day. The Fair Trade brand has become a part of consumer decision making.

Thus, the demand for Fair Trade is clearly present. In theory, Fair Trade helps cacao farmers “build better livelihoods for themselves, their families and communities” (Fair Trade Briefing 10). More specifically, Fair Trade aims to stabilize incomes for cacao farmers, whose livelihoods fluctuate in response to the volatility of chocolate prices[1] (Ibid 11). For example, Fair Trade guarantees a “minimum price of $2,000/tonne for Fairtrade certified cocoa beans, or the market price if higher” and works to ensure that “forced labour and child labour are prohibited” (Ibid). According to Fair Trade such measures “[help] producer organisations and farmers weather low and unstable markets by encouraging greater access to financing, relationship building between buyers and sellers, and improved contract terms” (Ibid 17). But is the existing consumer demand for Fair Trade chocolate feeding a truly “fair” system? While the Fair Trade theory is desirable, the realities are much less so. Despite Fair Trade’s efforts, cacao farmers continue to struggle with chocolate pricing, costs of obtaining Fair Trade certification, and ambiguity of Fair Trade standards in cultural contexts.

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The ideal results of Fair Trade Chocolate

Fair Trade’s claim on providing cocoa farmers with better prices has been questioned in recent years. Entrepreneurship lecturers Alex Nicholls and Charlotte Opal point out that returns are “marginal at best, non-existent at worst,” and that “a typical Fair Trade chocolate bar only returns about 4% of its final price to the producer” (Nicholls 29). Seventy% founder Martin Christy, founder of Seventy%[2], stated that “the Fairtrade premium—about $400 per tonne of cacao—is not enough to make much difference to farmers lives and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that not much of that actually reaches the real farmers” (Ramsey). Christy adds, “if you do the the maths backwards from a £1.30 100g Fairtrade bar there’s no way, once you’ve taken off all the margins, that the farmer is getting enough to live on” (Ibid).

According to a transnational investigation hosted by the Forum for African Investigative Reporters, farmer testimonials support Christy’s claims. Frédéric Doua—owner of a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast—revealed that his harvested product often sits in warehouses, waiting for the occasional Fair Trade buyer to come along (Fair 6). According to Doua, he was hoping for “higher prices and welfare premiums,” but instead became “overly dependent on cocoa prices and Fair Trade buyers” (Ibid). This is due to the fact that “as a member of a FAIRTRADE-certified cooperative, one ‘cannot sell beans outside the FAIRTRADE circuit’” (Ibid). In other words, even if Fair Trade can provide better prices (which Nicholls and Christy have shown isn’t necessarily true), they do not guarantee consistent purchases, despite forcing farmers to sacrifice their freedom to choose their buyers.

But restriction on clientele is only one of the many hoops Fair Trade farmers must jump through. In the first place, gaining Fair Trade certification is a challenge for many cocoa producers. Economist Peter Griffiths notes that “the costs of achieving certification are an unavoidable negative impact” (Griffiths 363). Farmers are expected to pay fees for receiving certification (Certification). For a small farming cooperative of just twenty workers, such a fee can run upwards of $5,000 (Ibid). In addition, Fair Trade does not cover the costs incurred by farmers in order for them to meet Fair Trade standards. A major Fair Trade requirement is the use of sustainable agricultural practices (Brodersen). Thus, cocoa producers that use herbicides must switch to manual weeding, which usually results in higher wage costs. In such cases, Fair Trade does not compensate farmers accordingly (Griffiths 363).

Two additional issues exacerbate the cost problem of Fair Trade certification. The first is that Fair Trade is “unable to certify the total production of registered organizations” (Muradian 2033). For example, in 2001 only about 13% of total production was sold as Fair Trade, thereby resulting in “a large gap between potential and actual certified sales” (Ibid). Farmers’ fears of certification costs are usually sated by projected sales, which are based on selling annual production in its entirety as Fair Trade. However, the reality of partial certification sales causes farmers to rarely restore the money used in order to pay for Fair Trade certification in the first place. The second problem is the lack of a strong regulatory force on Fair Trade’s part. Mislabelling—when non Fair Trade products are sold as “fair trade”—is a rampant problem, allowing non-certified products to enjoy the benefits of price premiums (Parry). The global nature of the chocolate market makes label enforcement difficult, which means that real Fair Trade certified farmers aren’t protected. One seller might lie about being “fair trade,” which is unfair for the producers who had to spend their own money to officially earn Fair Trade certification.

An unexpectedly ambiguous source of contention is Fair Trade’s policy on child labour. Simply stated, Fair Trade has zero tolerance for child labour, especially in a production process as risk-heavy as cacao farming (Child). Injuries from the use of tools such as machetes are common, as well as illnesses caused by contact with various agricultural chemicals (Alliot 10). The confusion arises from determining the line between child labor and family labor. According to Fair Trade:

A major cause of the use of child labour is poverty: farmers receive such low prices for their produce that they can’t afford to pay hired workers. Even where farmers want their children to attend school, this is often hampered by poor availability of education in rural areas, and parents not being able to afford to buy schoolbooks or pay teachers. (Fair Trade Briefing 8)

But from farmers’ perspectives, Fair Trade’s child labour regulations are what leads to such “poverty” (Ibid). Without the help of family members, farmers simply cannot harvest enough to pay for their children’s school fees (Etahoben 16). Furthermore, the generalization that any child participating in work—even if that work is the family business—is considered a violation of Fair Trade values seems excessive. A Cameroonian farm owner Dat Williams explained: “When it is time to break the cocoa pods, I collect my children and any family children around at the time and take them to the farm to help. This is considered as part of the household chores children do to help their parents” (Ibid). Etahoben added “It was an exciting experience when we, as kids, were taken to the farms to break the cocoa, suck the seeds and drink the juice from the pods. We considered it part of becoming a responsible family member” (Ibid). While no parent should get away with abusing children and placing them at risk, the issue of child labour requires greater scrutiny and careful judgment so as to prevent unintended harm caused by good intentions.

 

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A child helping with the cacao harvest. The boundaries between familial work and child labour are sometimes unclear.

With Fair Trade no longer being a clear-cut good, and standard chocolate brands already having been criticized for unsustainable business practices, who can consumers turn to? Organizations like Direct Cacao, founded in 2012, are attempting to provide alternatives to the Fair Trade model. Whereas Fair Trade requires cocoa producers to essentially become members of a global organization and work under standardized guidelines, Direct Cacao works directly with small farmers and create specific relationships based on individualized circumstances (Declaration). Without a singular structure and a set of regulations that apply universally, this direct interaction model does run the risk of creating inconsistent standards. In addition, the process of following each producer through their cocoa production and discussing the best price is time-consuming and in many cases, expensive. The time and money costs can limit the range at which direct interaction can have an impact. However, as Direct Cacao points out, this new approach frees farmers from having to meet Fair Trade standards that aren’t universally easy to achieve.

Another alternative to Fair Trade is an alternative trading organization (ATO). ATOs share the goals of the Fair Trade movement, but each ATO takes its own approach to achieving those goals (Abufarha). Alter Eco, a France-based company founded in 1988, is a representative example of an ATO. All of Alter Eco’s chocolate is Fair Trade certified, but the organization also pursues particular principles that are not apparent in the Fair Trade’s broader manifesto. For example, Alter Eco places a special emphasis on gender equity within the chocolate industry (Alter). While the Fair Trade movement has a general mission to improve the well-being of cacao producers, they are not as specific as Alter Eco’s. Because Alter Eco is part of the Fair Trade movement but doesn’t manage every source of Fair Trade cocoa, they are more mobile and better equipped to place more focus on individual producers. In essence, ATOs are a compromise between Fair Trade and Direct Cacao.

It’s important to note that the presence of such alternatives does not necessarily mean that Fair Trade has failed. Fair Trade’s ideology comes from a desire to help people and create a more sustainable world. Despite the problems discussed above, there are plenty of success stories with Fair Trade—as there should be, given its 70-year history. Still, consumers should approach products with a critical mind. It’s not enough to claim one’s participation in ethical consumerism simply by purchasing a Fair Trade chocolate bar. Without proper scrutiny, the Fair Trade brand will quickly fall from being a symbol for change to being a pawn of consumerism, manipulating the consumers’ guilt complex and desire to “feel good.” In the case of Fair Trade, the organization as a whole should work to ensure stable income over higher per unit prices, redirect cocoa premium investments toward children’s education—thereby alleviating parents’ concerns regarding school fees—and implementing an organized regulatory force that effectively prevents others from taking advantage of the Fair Trade label, so as to protect the investment and hard work of farmers toward Fair Trade certification.

Works Cited

“About.” Seventy%. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2017.

Abufarha, Nasser. “Alternative Trade Organizations and the Fair Trade Movement.” Fair World Project. N.p., 2013. Web. 09 May 2017.

Alliot, Christophe, Matthias Cortin, Marion Feige-Muller, and Sylvain Ly. The Dark Side of Chocolate: An Analysis of the Conventional, Sustainable and Fair Trade Cocoa Chains. Rep. N.p.: Bureau for the Appraisal of Societal Impacts and Costs, n.d. Print.

“Alter Eco Nourishing Foodie, Farmer and Field.” Alter Eco Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.

Brodersen, Pernille Louise. How Fair is Fairtrade? Thesis. Copenhagen Business School, 2013. Copenhagen: n.p., 2013. Print.

“Certification fees.” FLOCERT. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2017.

“Child and Forced Labour.” Fairtrade International (FLO): Child and Forced Labour. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

“Declaration.” Direct Cacao. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2017.

Etahoben, Chief Bisong, Bjinse Dankert, Janneke Donkerlo, Selay Kouassi, Benjamin Tetteh, and Aniefiok Udonquak. The FAIRTRADE Chocolate Rip-off. Rep. Ed. Evelyn Groenink. N.p.: n.p., 2012. Print.

Griffiths, Peter. “Ethical Objections to Fairtrade.” Journal of Business Ethics 105 (2012): 357-73. Print.

Hainmueller, Jens. Consumer Demand for the Fair Trade Label: Evidence from a Multi-Store Field Experiment. Diss. Stanford U, 2014. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Muradian, Roldan, and Wim Pelupessy. “Governing the Coffee Chain: The Role of Voluntary Regulatory Systems.” World Development 33.12 (2005): 2029-044. Web.

Nicholls, Alex, and Charlotte Opal. Fair Trade: Market-Driven Ethical Consumption. London: Sage, 2011. Print.

Parry, Hannah. “Beware the Fairtrade fraudsters: Shoppers warned to watch out for produce with fake labels as criminals attempt to cash in on premiums on ‘ethical’ goods.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 06 May 2015. Web. 9 May 2017.

Ramsey, Dom. “How Fair Is Fairtrade Chocolate?” Chocablog. N.p., 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 8 May 2017.

[1] Some of the causes behind price volatility are: political instability in cacao producing countries, variable weather, and changes in supply and demand (Fair Trade Briefing 5)

[2] Seventy% is an organization founded in 2001 whose aim is “to raise awareness of the quality and origin of the chocolate we eat” (About)

Is Fair Trade Faux? The Overvaluation of the Fairtrade Label in Chocolate Sales

As modes of communication have improved, the world community has become more aware of the circumstances of the people around us. Few situations prove more compelling to action than the plight of cacao farmers in West Africa and South America, for cacao farmers live in incredible poverty, completing long hours of backbreaking work for little pay in fields which typically lack access to bathroom facilities and clean water and which also expose the farmers to a host of dangerous tropical diseases (Martin).

In learning more about the conditions under which cacao farmers work, there has been a marked increase in the world community’s support for “fair trade” practices, in which the chocolate companies have been certified to split profits equally with the cacao farmers who supply the cocoa to be used in manufacturing the chocolate. There has also been an increase in support for ethical sourcing practices in which the cacao farm is certified to have satisfied a high level of “social, environmental, and economic standards”, ensuring that each cacao farmer can not only survive, but thrive by selling cocoa beans (Fair). Click below to view a video which explains Fair Trade Practices in more detail (Fair):

http://fairtradeusa.org/what-is-fair-trade

A wealth of modern scholarship exists which touts the important role of the consumer in incentivizing chocolate sellers to change their current buying practices and to offer a wider selection of Fairtrade Certified options in their stores. However, evidence exists which contradicts the conclusions of this body of scholarship. A comparison of the chocolate selections at CVS Convenience Store and Cardullo’s Gourmet Shop suggests that there is not as strong a desire among consumers to buy responsibly sourced chocolate as scholarship might conclude; in fact, this comparison suggests that the Fairtrade label and similar certifications are only important selling points to a small, niche group of customers.

Scholars are generally in agreement that the concept of “social responsibility” has become a more significant component within the business model of modern chocolate retailers such as grocery and convenience stores. Susie Khamis describes the mechanics of this phenomenon in her paper, A Case Study in Compromise: The Green & Black’s Brand of Ethical Chocolate:

The discourse of [social responsibility and] ethical consumption is predicated on      consumers’ interest in such matters, which are often of a humanitarian or environmentalist nature. In turn, consumers can either reward brands and businesses that are similarly inclined, or punish those that are not (Khamis 19).

Other works document the growth in sales of Fairtrade Certified chocolate. More Chocolate Manufacturers Moving to Ethical Sourcing describes the role of the British public’s support for Fairtrade Certified chocolate as having driven an expanding the market for Fairtrade Certified bars in Britain and Europe. David Pierson, a writer for The Los Angeles Times, identified the same phenomenon in the United States as he described the Fairtrade, bean-to-bar process as practiced by the Los Angeles based chocolatier, Ryan Berk (Pierson). These works prove useful in explaining and illustrating the principles in effect when consumers incentivize chocolate suppliers to provide a wider array of responsibly sourced goods, yet they fall short in that they over attribute widespread support for Fair Trade and responsibly sourced chocolate.

So if, according to modern scholarship, customers are so anxious to purchase Fair Trade certified chocolates, chocolate bars, and chocolate products, why is it that the CVS convenience store in Harvard Square fails to provide responsibly sourced chocolates for their customers to enjoy? Picture #1 indicates the types of chocolate available at CVS.

Picture 1:

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The varieties of chocolate available for purchase are endless. The store offers: Reese’s Cups, M&M’s, Cadbury Cremes, Dum Dum Lollipops, Dove chocolate bites…etc. Furthermore, the checkout counter offers additional choices of chocolate from which customers may choose (Spear CVS Chocolate). The chocolates available for purchase at CVS have been produced at high volume; the chocolate bars on display are all packaged in cheap, brightly colored plastic wrapping meant to catch the eye and convince the customer to buy the candy. Furthermore, the chocolates on display were produced by the largest chocolate conglomerates in the world such as Hershey’s, Nestle, and Cadbury, none of which are Fair Trade certified. None of the available chocolates are Fair Trade Certified or responsibly sourced certified. Recently, Hershey’s was certified as having 30% of their cocoa responsibly sourced, Nestle only recently made the Kit Kat bar certified fair trade, while Cadbury recently did away with their Fair Trade Certification altogether (Gunther, Brownsell, Rodionova).

In addition to the “regular” chocolate available in the main aisle, CVS provided one small stand towards the back of the store (shown in image #2), not connected to the rest of the chocolate shown in image #1.

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This display, labeled “Premium Chocolate”, provided a variety of chocolate bars which were packaged with paper and foil, rather than plastic, and were presented as a higher quality alternative to the other chocolates offered in the store. However, despite the nicer packaging, and “premium” description, nearly none of the chocolate bars in the display were Fair Trade Certified. Of the entire offering, only two of the bars were certified as Fair Trade, the “Endangered Species” brand found hidden towards the bottom of the shelf (Endangered).

On the other hand, Cardullo’s offers a far wider range of options for consumers hoping to purchase Fair Trade chocolate. As seen in picture #3, Cardullo’s not only offers a large quantity of “higher quality” chocolates, which contained higher cocoa content, and lower amounts of sugar than the chocolate available at CVS, but the majority of the chocolate bars offered by Cardullo’s display a Fair Trade certification, or some other sort of “ethically sourced” branding.

image1 (1)

The most obvious difference between the selections available at CVS and Cardullo’s is that the chocolates which Cardullo’s offers seem to have been produced by smaller chocolatiers, rather than by the large chocolate producers. Every one of the bars are individually wrapped in paper and foil. The chocolates bars’ wrapping is presented in such a way as to make the chocolate bar seem to be very high quality; the wrappers also emphasize themes such as being organic, responsibly sourced, or single source origin. Notably, most of the chocolate producers represented in Cardullo’s (found in picture #3) are craft chocolatiers, or chocolatiers based outside of the United States: Dolfin Chocolates (Belgium), Cote D’Or Chocolates (Belgium), Drost Chocolatiers (the Netherlands).

Cardullo’s and CVS target different consumers, which affects the type of chocolate that they offer. CVS, as a convenience store, is meant to serve as a one-stop-shop which offers any good which a customer might need. The CVS business model caters to consumers who value affordability and speed in their buying habits; as such, the chocolate offered at CVS costs anywhere from $1 for a generic candy bar to $4 for the bars stocked in the “premium” section. Average chocolate bar prices at Cardullo’s however, rarely dip below $6 for a single bar and the typical price approaches $8. This is because Cardullo’s markets itself as an establishment which specializes in high-quality, gourmet, foods- as is clear from their website:

http://www.cardullos.com/ (Cardullo’s)

From Cardullo’s website, one might assume that the typical customer expects higher quality goods (“the finest meats and cheeses, the freshest vegetables, and locally made rolls and baguettes” (Cardullo’s)). Because consumers shopping at Cardullo’s value higher quality goods, they are willing to pay more for the items they purchase because the customer understands that they are purchasing quality goods.

Understanding the basic differences between the quality, price, and ethical background of the chocolate bars that are offered for sale by CVS and Cardullo’s, several conclusions can be drawn about the desires of the typical shopper at Cardullo’s and CVS. Because Cardullo’s offers such a wide variety of high-quality, though highly priced, chocolate bars, it’s obvious that Cardullo’s customers value high quality goods. The many certifications which have been awarded to chocolate makers for Fair Trade, organic, or ethical business practices certainly figure into the consumers’ approximation of the value and quality of the chocolate bar when they are considering making their purchase. Specifically in the case of Cardullo’s, consumers appreciate the responsible sourcing practices of the chocolate bars that Cardullo’s sells, and they reward Cardullo’s with their business, although the prices of chocolate bars at Cardullo’s are a higher price than in other places, like CVS.

While Cardullo’s business model and consumer practices provide some evidence to support the conclusions of writers and researchers like Susie Khamis and David Pierson, the selection of chocolate bars available in CVS suggest that Khamis’ and Pierson’s conclusions cannot be assumed to apply to the population as a whole. Although customers are clearly happy to pay higher prices for higher quality chocolate in shops like Cardullo’s, CVS customers most likely appreciate CVS for its convenience and affordability and would be less likely to pay $8 for a chocolate bar. That CVS offers essentially no ethically sourced or Fair Trade chocolate bars in their stores implies that CVS customers either care little about purchasing ethically sourced chocolate bars or that the typical CVS customer does not care enough to take their business across Harvard Square to shop at Cardullo’s. Because CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States (with over 9,600 locations nationwide), the company has an incredibly large client base and must remain responsive to the desires of the general public, or risk losing the business of large amounts of people (CVS). It follows that CVS must research the desires of their customers, monitoring how their consumers’ preferences change over time so that they can anticipate and respond to changing market conditions. Because CVS does not currently sell ethically sourced chocolate bars in their stores, one can conclude that ethical sourcing is important only within a small portion of the population.

Following Khamis’ model describing how a consumer punishes or rewards a company based on that company’s alignment with the consumer’s principles, if a significant portion of the population actually cared about ethically sourced chocolate, then those people would have found other, more ethically aligned stores such as Target and Walmart (or Cardullo’s!) and stopped buying chocolate bars from CVS. In response, CVS would be forced to adapt to the demands of the market and sell chocolate bars which satisfy the consumer’s ethical sourcing requirements.

Patterns within CVS’s selection of chocolate are significant in that a study of one CVS store provides a reliable approximation of the chocolate offerings at all other CVS stores nationwide. Because CVS stores nationwide serve more than 5 million customers daily, one can conclude that a very large portion of the United States’ population is satisfied with CVS’ chocolate bar options, and that a non-significant portion of the population cares about ethically sourced chocolate (CVS). Watch this documentary on ethically sourced chocolate, in which respondents tell that the taste of the chocolate is more important than the ethically sourced background (watch from 11:00 to 11:30) (Fair Trade and Chocolate):

http://harvard.kanopystreaming.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/video/fair-trade-chocolate-divine-story

Modern scholarship contends that a large portion of the population feels that Fair Trade and ethical sourcing practices are important aspects that factor into a consumer’s decision when purchasing a chocolate bar. Yet, data exists which suggests that scholars’ conclusions about the importance of fair trade practices to the consumer are not as widely applicable as scholars have concluded. Although the chocolate selection at Cardullo’s suggests that there is a portion of the population which is willing to pay premium prices for higher quality, responsibly sourced chocolate, the chocolate selection at CVS implies that there is also an incredibly large portion of the American population which does not see ethical sourcing practices as being important enough to “punish” or “reward” the retail chain over their selection of chocolates. In the future, interest groups should work to educate and persuade consumers of the merits of Fair Trade and responsibly sourced chocolate so that a larger portion of the population can become responsible consumers and can begin to effect positive change in the world through their purchasing habits.

Works Cited

Works Cited

Brownsell, Alex. “Nestle’s Kit Kat Secures Fair Trade Certification.” Campaign Live. 7

December 2009. Web.

Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe Website. http://www.cardullos.com/. Web.

CVS. “CVS Health At A Glance.” https://www.cvshealth.com/about/facts-and-company-

information. Web.

Endangered Species Chocolate. “Promise.” Accessed 4 May 2017.

http://www.chocolatebar.com/?page_id=18. Web.

“Fair Trade and Chocolate: The Divine Story.” Part of the Series: Essential Marketing

Collection. On Kanopy.com. http://harvard.kanopystreaming.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/video/fair-trade-chocolate-divine-story. Web.

Fair Trade USA. “What is Fair Trade?: Quality Products. Improving Lives. Protecting the

Planet.” Accessed 4 May 2017. http://fairtradeusa.org/what-is-fair-trade. Web.

Gunther, Mark. “Hershey’s Might Be Using More Sustainable Cocoa, But Farmers May Not Be

Seeing the Benefits.” The Guardian. 6 July 2015. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jul/06/hersheys-mars-ferrero-cocoa-farming-fair-trade-global-exchange. Web.

Khamis, Susie. “A Case Study in Compromise: The Green & Black’s Brand of Ethical

Chocolate.” Macquarie University. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, Volume 1, Number 1. March 2012. Print.

Martin, Carla. “Modern Day Slavery.” African American Studies 119X, 22 March 2017, Harvard

College, Cambridge MA. Lecture.

“More Chocolate Manufacturers Moving to Ethical Sourcing.” http://www.candyindustry.com. April

  1. Accessed 4 May 2017. http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/218773659/fulltextPDF/51D1AC8E34A645CFPQ/1?accountid=11311. Web.

Pierson, David. “Artisanal, hand-crafted chocolate is a growing niche.” The Los Angeles Times.

28 February 2017. Web.

Rodionova, Zlata. “Cadbury Withdraws from Fairtrade Chocolate Scheme But Keeps Logo on

Packaging.” The Independent. 28 November 2016. Web.

Spear, Tyler. “Cardullo’s Gourmet Shop Chocolate Selection.” 4 May 2017.

Spear, Tyler. “CVS Chocolate Selection.” 4 May 2017.

Spear, Tyler. “CVS Premium Chocolate Selection.” 4 May 2017.

The Ethical Choices of Chocolate and Carbon

Any food we eat leaves a global environmental and ethical footprint, and chocolate, as adored as it is, is no exception. This blog post will consider the deleterious global effects of chocolate’s production and consumption and will provide guidelines for consumers who seek to enjoy its delicious flavor while minimizing some of its harmful global impacts.

The most comprehensive way to analyze the environmental impact of cacao, the raw material processed into chocolate, is to address every input and output for every aspect of its lifecycle from growing the raw materials to disposing of the wrapper post consumption. This impact analysis must consider how the cacao tree is cultivated and how the beans are then fermented, dried, roasted, winnowed (removal of the shell), and crushed. It must also consider how the sugar and vanilla used as ingredients in chocolate are grown and processed. If the chocolate is milk chocolate, it must consider how the cows are fed, milked, and housed during the winter, and how the milk itself is pasteurized and dried. Even the soy lecithin, a natural product used in small amounts to stabilize the coco solids in a processed bar, has a story with environmental footprints along the way – oil is extracted from raw soybeans, then mixed with water, and then dried. Every step along these supply chains require electricity and transportation, and the transportation vehicles themselves have to be manufactured.

This is only to demonstrate the complexity of accurately determining and comparing chocolate’s environmental footprint. A thorough lifecycle analysis that considers every impact from the tree to the consumer’s stomach is challenging, as every input requires another input further down the line and the supply chain never ends. Because of this, few have undertaken the challenge of calculating a full life-cycle analysis for this cherished food. But the analyses that do exist can help us understand chocolate’s environmental footprint and guide us in consumer choices. 

One lifecycle analysis was undertaken by ESU-services, a sustainability consulting firm, for cocoa produced in Ghana and consumed in Europe. Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa producing nation after Cote d’Ivoire. While Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have startlingly different social structures and levels of government regulation within the cacao industry, they neighbor each other geographically and both produce the Forastero variety of cocoa. In other words, a lifecycle analysis of just Ghanaian cacao is representative of a large portion of the world’s current cacao supply.

This ESU-services study found that on-farm activities account for over 70% of chocolate’s total environmental footprint. Retail packaging, distribution and selling, and transport from retailer to household account for the remaining portion of the footprint. Most food products have agricultural production footprints that account for a majority of their overall environmental footprint, so 70% puts chocolate on-par with other foods. The ESU-services study also found the global warming potential from the production of white chocolate to be more than double that of dark chocolate (milk chocolate falls in the middle). This is because white chocolate is largely made with milk solids and cows produce huge amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. The Cadbury chocolate company found a similar result when it calculated the carbon footprint of its chocolate. The single largest source of emissions came from the production of the milk. In-house production accounted for 20% of emissions, sugar production was 10%, and packaging was just 2%. When other environmental criteria like heavy metal contamination, water usage, radioactive waste production, and eutrophication is considered, dark chocolate still has a lower footprint than white chocolate, but this gap closes. The ESG-services study also made an interesting point about the importance of how chocolate is transported. Because air travel has a carbon footprint almost 100 times larger per pound than cargo ship travel, chocolate that is purchased duty-free at the airport and transported home by airplane has the highest environmental footprint of all.

ESU-services made another report on the environmental lifecycle analysis of chocolate wrapped in aluminum foil. Although aluminum is an environmentally destructive metal to mine, the results from this study were almost identical to the results from the Ghanaian analysis. This further supports the claim that packaging and distribution are only of minor environmental importance compared to the on-farm and processing activities.

A third life-cycle assessment that sought to consider all the stakeholders of Ghana’s cocoa industry came to the same conclusion that the production of the raw cacao accounts for a majority of chocolate’s environmental impact. The footprint from agricultural production was followed by processing and chocolate manufacturing, and the study found room for improvement in the efficiency of the energy-intensive equipment such as roasters at the processing factory. While improvements to on-farm sustainability is the lowest hanging fruit, this last energy-related finding suggests that a consumer could look for companies that boast processing facilities run with entirely renewable energy.  

The tree that produces cacao grows in tropical environments, so cacao growing regions overlap significantly with global biodiversity hotspots.

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As recent chocolate demand growth has overwhelmed West Africa, cacao production has expanded in South America. This expansion of  cacao cultivation has unfortunately been paired with an increase in rainforest clear-cutting. By exacerbating climate change and destroying natural habitats, agricultural land-use changes are one of chocolate’s primary environmental impacts. Instead of conducting a complete lifecycle analysis like ESU-services, the World Resources Institute used satellite images to calculate the carbon footprint of just these land-use changes. The study looked specifically at Peru, which has seen a nearly five-fold increase in cacao production between 1990 and 2013, and found that consideration of the land-use changes doubles the carbon footprint of chocolate. While this land-use analysis is not as comprehensive as a full lifecycle analysis, it none-the-less raises the important issue of deforestation in the cacao industry.   

Theobroma Cacao is an understory tree, so farmers can theoretically cultivate it among the existing rainforest, and if integrated in this way, cacao is actually a comparatively sustainable crop. The government of Peru has even partnered with the US Agency for International Development to encourage the cultivation of cacao as a way of protecting the forest. In regions that were formerly clear-cut to grow coca (the raw substance for cocaine), the introduction of sustainable cacao cultivation not only supports the regrowth of forest, but also has social value as it provides an alternative to the drug trade associated with coca. 

New research shows that cacao, a crop that traditionally prefers shade, can be grown in direct sun as long as it is heavily irrigated. This allows companies to grow cacao on cleared plots of land rather than integrating it among the existing forest. The role of the consumer in working against land-use changes is to buy from companies that encourage integrated crop systems. Chocolate companies that work with farmers to sustainably cultivate the cacao that ends up in their bars will advertise that they are doing so.

The easiest way for companies to signal their environmental awareness to consumers is through outside certifications. Farms certified through the Rainforest Alliance, known for its iconic green frog symbol, must meet criteria encompassing social, economic, and environmental sustainability set by the Sustainable Agricultural Network. These farmers are audited regularly and receive a price premium for their cacao. If a chocolate wrapper is made with paper or another wood-derived product, the company may choose to pursue a certification from the Forest Stewardship Council. This ensures the material was made with sustainably and ethically managed forestry practices.

Another certification is organic, which simply means that no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were applied during cultivation. While these agricultural chemicals present an array of environmental concerns, there is also debate about the benefits of improving yields through traditional farming methods to reduce the environmental problems associated with land-use changes. Additionally, many have begun to attach other expectations about product quality and ethical fairness to organic certification. With the proliferation of food certifications, confusion about each one’s mission is common among consumers.

On top of its environmental impacts, chocolate production also has ethical implications felt globally. In addition to aligning unfortunately with global biodiversity hotspots, the geographic distribution of cacao production also aligns with areas of increased poverty. Theobroma cacao grows within 20 degrees north and south of the Equator, and due to the unfortunate inverse correlation between proximity to equator and wealth, the regions most suitable to growing cacao are also some of the poorest.

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A 2015 study found that the average income per capita per day for an entire cacao farming household in Ghana is approximately $0.50-$0.80 USD3. This is largely because less than five percent of the price of a typical chocolate bar makes its way back to the farmer. Worst of all, a cacao farmer’s already meager income is highly volatile because yields are dependent on natural events and global commodity prices are constantly in flux3. This irregular income further undermines a farmer’s ability to climb out of poverty. Cacao farm labor is both dangerous and demanding, and farmers are marginalized and under-represented. Because of this, less than one-quarter of West African cacao farmers would recommend that their children go into farming3. There is significant evidence of the worse forms of child labor, as defined by the International Labour Organization, on many West African farms3. Input and labor costs for cacao cultivation are high, so engaging familial labor is common practice. If a child is pulled from school to work on the farm, they lose out on education and the cycle of poverty continues. On a much broader scale, the demand for familial agricultural labor encourages high fertility rates.

Policy aimed at some of these problems suffer from unequal trade agreements, and corporate social responsibility lacks transparency and consumer education. In general, it is challenging to bring wide-scale awareness to these ethical concerns without falling victim to the exploiter-exploited binary3. Just as certifications have risen to respond to the environmental impacts of chocolate, certifications have risen to respond to the ethical impacts of chocolate.

The Fair Trade certification is probably the most recognized among American consumers of these ethically-focused certifications. The Fair Trade organization makes dramatic claims about the positive impact it brings to farmers who are certified with ambitious promises about everything from promoting community development and environmental sustainability to reducing child labor and gender inequality. The UTZ certification seeks similar outcomes of improving product quality, environmental sustainability, and farmer welfare. However, the reality is that the premiums paid to farmers who become certified are insufficient to achieve such dramatic economic, social, and environmental outcomes. Additionally, the certification process itself is expensive and only accessible to farmers who are able to take on the initial financial investment.

Taza, a small bean-to-bar chocolate company, thought Fair Trade was not doing enough and started its own Direct Trade program independently verified by a third party. They exclude all middle-men, visit the farmers they work with annually, and pay prices significantly higher than Fair Trade. Taza also requires that its cacao is grown in agroforestry systems – i.e. the cacao trees are integrated within the existing forest to avoid clear-cutting and radical land-use changes. Taza prides itself on absolute transparency by stating in its annual transparency report exactly how much it paid for each bag of cacao beans. The growth of this company demonstrates consumer buy-in for this supply-chain model, but the involved nature of Taza’s farmer relations is not scalable to the entire chocolate industry. This is only to say that it is a work in progress. All certification programs have their flaws, but they are steps in the right direction by bringing awareness to social and environmental issues in the supply chain of which consumers might not have been previously aware. By purchasing certified products, consumers can also demonstrate their commitment to those values.

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The symbols from certifications do not alone educate consumers, so the burden is on consumers to research the certification requirements for each one. These are the symbols of all the certifications discussed in this blog post.

Chocolate is a $100 billion dollar per year global industry ensnared in negative environmental and ethical footprints. While Europe, the United States, and Canada account for 73% of this global consumption, they produce none of it. This strong misalignment between where cacao is consumed and where it is grown has led to consumer naiveté about its negative footprints. We have yet to develop solutions for all of these impacts, and each cacao growing region has its own microclimate and political and cultural constraints so no one solution or certification is the golden ticket.

These issues require governmental action and multi-stakeholder collaboration, but from the consumer’s perspective, purchasing dark chocolate from companies that work to improve on-farm sustainability through agroforestry systems is a good start. Additionally, consumers can purchase chocolate from companies that support or partner with the International Cocoa Initiative and/or the International Cocoa Organization to end the worst forms of child labor.

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This is a consumer guide for chocolate made by several students at the Harvard Chen School of Public Health. It rates a diversity of commercially-available chocolate bars on environmental, nutritional, and societal metrics and could be a useful tool for consumers trying to mitigate the negative global impacts of their chocolate consumption.

Once chocolate production internalizes its negative social and environmental externalities, the product is going to cost more. But compared to other fine food items like cheese and wine, chocolate can still be a relatively accessible treat. Consumer awareness of the global impacts of the chocolate industry can also extend to a greater understanding and appreciation of the global impacts of other food and non-food products.

How You Choose Your Chocolate

Chocolate has been a staple of Western culture since the time that it was brought over from Mesoamerica by the Europeans. Big Chocolate companies like Cadbury, Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and Ferrero Rocher now control over 99% of this market (Martin, “The Rise of Big Chocolate and Race for the Global Market”). On the other hand, single origin chocolate companies make up a much smaller margin of this market. Now that there are so many options – including brand, flavor, and texture to choose from – how does one make their ultimate decision? Factors like consumer awareness of production methods, the way that it is marketed, and convenience play crucial roles in the kind of chocolate people choose to consume.

“Fair” Trade

To begin, it’s important to illustrate what Fair Trade is and who exactly it affects. Making chocolate is a ten-step process, and most of those steps are conducted by people in places like West Africa, specifically in Cote de’Ivoire and Ghana (Martin, “Modern Day Slavery”). In addition to the big companies controlling the vast majority of the market, Big Chocolate also retains over 90% of the money from the sale of the chocolate, while the actual producers are left with what little remains (Martin, “The Rise of Big Chocolate and Race for the Global Market”). This is one of the many problems in the relationships between Big Chocolate and their African farmers, as will soon be further illustrated.

Fair Trade Certifications and other labels indicating positive labor treatment are becoming more sought-after by consumers to the point where companies are creating labels of their own (cite – lecture). The goal of Fair Trade is to help farmers build sustainable businesses that can continue to prosper and be beneficial benefit all parties involved (Martin, “Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization”). Since the conditions in other countries aren’t being monitored by their government, it is important for them to be monitored by some sort of organization to ensure ethical treatment. However, the goals of Fair Trade are often far from what is actually achieved. While they’re trying to invest in the local communities, Fair Trade can lead to an inefficient marketing system where corruption flourishes (Martin, “Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization”). It’s also been known to hurt the non-certified farmer (Martin, “Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization”) because a positive addition to the circumstances in Africa shouldn’t be a negative one for those that aren’t able to be a part of it. In order to have a Fair Trade Certification label on a product, only 20% of the ingredients have to be produced under the specified conditions (Fair Trade USA), which can be incredibly misleading for the people who aren’t aware of this. The Fair Trade system, while it does have positive goals and some positive outcomes, can’t necessarily be relied on for regulating the labor conditions under which chocolate is produced.

Who Cares about Fair?

Consumers today are becoming more aware of ethically sourced chocolate, which Maricel Presilla talks about in New Taste of Chocolate: “Many consumers today share such concerns about cacao farming. They are starting to ask questions about farming methods and the well-being of farmers. There are people who as a matter of principle won’t buy anything produced without Fair Trade or organic certification” (133). This definitely doesn’t represent all consumers, however, a trend has begun in this direction as it hasn’t before – the consumer is being made aware of the conditions of the producer. Although these certifications are marked on many items and are advertised for their positive regulation of conditions, disregarding the efficacy of the certification, the fact that not all ingredients have to be ethically sourced goes entirely unpublished to the general consumer. If searched for, the companies’ websites will generally provide all information, but that isn’t accomplished without significant individual time and effort.

“In its press release announcing the launch, the Co-op indicated that it wished to ‘start a race amongst major UK supermarket groups anxious to demonstrate that they care and are eager to establish their ethical credentials’” (Nicholls & Opal, 101). This trend was also seen across the world as Starbucks changed all of its own-brand chocolate to Fair Trade Certified in 2002 (Nicholls & Opal, 101). While Starbucks is generally known to be a socially conscious brand in America and its consumers are a wide range, they still reach a huge number of people with their positive message of certification. When people are aware of why certain products are Free Trade certified, it is generally assumed that some of them would take that into account when making a purchase. However, it can be difficult to rely on consumers for such a task since Big Chocolate companies, which often aren’t certified, produce such large quantities for such an inexpensive price.

Big Chocolate

Mass production of any goods tends to lower the quality, whether in regard to cars, clothing, or chocolate. Yet affordability is such an important aspect when buying a treat on the way out of the store – a tendency that is specific to Americans (Martin, ““The Rise of Big Chocolate and Race for the Global Market”). Rosie Wigglesworth, a sophomore at Harvard University, said that she never spends the money required to purchase a single origin chocolate bar from a specialty shop when she can spend a fraction of that money to buy the same amount or more chocolate from CVS.

In addition to being less expensive, Big Chocolate companies get their customers to keep coming back by marketing to what we celebrate most – holidays. So often, the marketing insinuates all that will come out of giving chocolate as a gift, like falling in love on Valentine’s Day. Consumers have been conditioned to accept chocolate as such an important aspect of many holidays that intrinsically have nothing to do with it. As soon as Valentine’s Day is over, being inside a CVS can be both a sad and exciting thing. For chocolate lovers, it is a great day since all of the themed candy is now 50% off, but it is generally a mess and broken. Next to the Valentine’s Day themed candy shoved in the corner is all of the fresh Easter candy that has just been shelved and waiting for Easter to come in order for it to reach its many consumers. Since much of the candy that is bought is done so for the sake of festiveness and quantity, the general consumer wouldn’t even consider buying it at a specialty shop that likely wouldn’t attend to the holiday in such a dedicated way. This form of specialized advertising can be seen multiple times throughout the year, and is one of the ways that Big Chocolate companies retain its customers.

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This Cadbury product represents how the Big Chocolate companies advertise and market their chocolate specifically for holidays.

Another strong reason for so much popularity of the cheap chocolate is its convenience. Located next to every CVS register, it is incredibly easy for a consumer to just grab it on his way out, even if he wasn’t originally planning on getting any. In The Economics of Chocolate, Squicciarini and Swinnen talk about nudging, which can get someone to make one decision over another due to convenience (161). Given the observation that food decisions are often made relatively mindlessly and the environmental cues can therefore play a large part in steering these decisions, we explore the possibility that nudging is a potentially powerful technique to trigger behavioral change” (Squicciarini & Swinnen, 161). People go to CVS every day for things that meet their needs for medicine, beauty, and school. Sometimes they probably have chocolate in mind when they come in, but regardless, it definitely is when they are heading out. This kind of store, where almost all shopping needs can be met, is an excellent place for such an easy temptation to be stored. Big Chocolate knows this, and they can afford to acquire the shelf space and deliver the profit margins to stores like CVS that keep this cycle going.

Single Origin Chocolate

Unlike Big Chocolate, single origin brands pride themselves on the way that their chocolate is produced. While companies like Cadbury are incredibly secretive and have very rarely given the world insight on their chocolate-making process, these single origin businesses tend to be incredibly upfront about their production methods and values. They use this fact as a marketing alternative to that of Big Chocolate. These can easily be found on their websites, which is not what one would find on Hershey’s. This chocolate is made in small batches, so the quality is significantly higher.

These companies are known for outsourcing in ways that allow for ethical treatment in the production process, and therefore, many of them are Fair Trade Certified. Small chocolate companies tend to be founded for reasons other than mass expansion and market takeover in the way that the Big Chocolate companies currently dominate, such as passion or happening to be in the right situation.

Single origin companies advertise, but in a way much different than Big Chocolate does. Of course there is the difference of scale to which they are able to market but also the chocolate they choose to display. Instead of it being about what chocolate can do for you, as is the case for some Big Chocolate marketing, they focus more on its origin and quality. It’s not about the big events going on that it is a gift for, but rather appeal to consumers to make the ethical and environmentally sound choice when choosing to buy chocolate.

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Green & Black’s Fair Trade Certified company focuses on the natural elements of the chocolate in their marketing.

A major difference in terms of convenience of the products, is that these are much more difficult to find in a price-conscious store like CVS. The small batches with attention to detail plus the Fair Trade prices result in a single specialty bar commonly reaching about $9. This is not the kind of thoughtless purchase one generally makes at the register.

Public Awareness

Most people have a general knowledge of Fair Trade Certification’s existence and the fact that it benefits people at the bottom of the production ladder. Many people don’t know the details, especially the negative aspects that can be so severe that struggling groups of farmers in other countries make the choice to not be a part of it. The general public consensus right now, from the people I spoke to about it, is that Fair Trade is an overall positive certification and group to be a part of.

I decided to test how much of an effect on taste preference this knowledge of Fair Trade had on consumers. I did this by recruiting people I know and asking how much they knew about Fair Trade. I then divided them into three groups – one that knew almost nothing but assumed that it was good; one that knew some details about the way that it operated; and one that was fully aware of both the goals and consequences since two of them are also in the class. All three groups were part of trials conducted separately, but they all received the same chocolate in the same order. The only difference is what I said about each piece they were about to eat. All four pieces were from Potomac’s 70% dark chocolate, including bars with cacao beans from Costa Rica, Peru, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. Each trial I changed which ones I said were from Fair Trade Certified companies, always changing the two I said that were and the two I said that weren’t. I then asked everybody to rank the four chocolates in order of the favorite.

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Kristen and Christina tasting the different kinds of chocolate during our taste test.

The results showed that everyone always had at least one of the “Fair Trade Certified” bars in their top two preferences. While these four bars did vary slightly in flavor, I still conclude that people were affected by the knowledge of where the chocolate came from and how it was made.

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These 70% dark Potomac chocolates were being tasted in order to determine preference in relation to Fair Trade Certification.

A lack of awareness can play a huge role in the conditions that still exist for chocolate producers today. Millions of children are involved in child labor today, specifically to produce chocolate, by being trafficked mostly from Mali to Cote de’Ivoire and Ghana (Coe & Coe, 263-264). Blatant racism is also unrecognized because people miss the subtly that exists now as a byproduct of the extremely long history connecting chocolate and slavery. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Oompa Loompas, Spanish Conguitos, and Belgian chocolate hands have all been discreetly displaying racism in a way that few perceive. These “cultural blindspots” show the gaps that exist in knowledge about where such images and concepts came from (Martin, “Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements”), which holds us back as a whole.

Conclusion

While not everybody can be convinced to spend more money to buy Fair Trade Certified chocolate bars, many more people could be swayed against buying chocolate that depicts slavery in such a way. Not everyone knows about the way that chocolate is made, and that along with how it’s marketed and convenience of consumption is how people make the decision of what chocolate to buy.

 

Works Cited

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Print.

2Collier, Dan. “Green & Black’s.” Dan Collier. Green & Black’s, n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.

1“EXCLUSIVE: Cadbury’s Tapping the Specific Occasional Gifting Opportunity: Anil Viswanathan.” Pitchonet. Pitch Magazine India, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.

3Friends trying different types of chocolate, Cambridge. Personal photograph by author. 2017.

Martin, Carla. “Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/Globalization.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard University, Cambridge. 5 Apr. 2017. Lecture.

Martin, Carla. “Modern Day Slavery.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard University, Cambridge. 22 Mar. 2017. Lecture.

Martin, Carla. “Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Chocolate Advertisements.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard University, Cambridge. 29 Mar. 2017. Lecture.

Martin, Carla. “The Rise of Big Chocolate and Race for the Global Market.” Chocolate, Culture, and the Politics of Food. Harvard University, Cambridge. 15 Mar. 2017. Lecture.

“Multiple Ingredients Product Policy.” Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade USA, 2017. Web. 03 May 2017.

Nichollis, Alex, and Charlotte Opal. Fair Trade: Market Driven Ethical Consumption. London: Sage, 2011. Google Books. Google. Web. 1 May 2017.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2009. Print.

4“Shop.” Potomac Chocolate. Potomac Chocolate, 2017. Web. 03 May 2017.

Squicciarini, Mara P. and Johan Swinnen. The Economics of Chocolate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. Google Books. Google. Web. 1 May 2017.

CVS vs. Whole Foods: Convenience or consciousness?

Introduction

CVS versus Whole Foods Market? Many, to include myself, would say hands down, there is no comparison or competition. Considering the distinctive customer, core values, accessibility of brands, ingredients, and price tags of chocolate displayed in each establishment, Whole Foods stands as bar none (no pun intended). According to Nielsen’s Global consumer study, which conducted a survey on snacking with a poll of 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries to identify what attributes were most important to them–in regards to consumption, confection (led by chocolate) accounted for $20 billion USD in sales (Nielsen 5). Furthermore, in a span of 30 days, 64% of global respondents consumed chocolate (6). Moreover, consumers chose chocolate second to fruit out of 47 snacking options as their favorite (6). Thereby, results concluded that in addition to chocolate being favored by consumers through mass consumption: chocolate is big business.

As one who adores all things Whole Foods, frequenting the store no less than ten times a week, yet also familiar with the convenient trappings of CVS, I tasked myself with curiosity in my search to examine the differences between these consumer giants more critically. In addition to online research of their histories and ethics, I perused the aisles to investigate their chocolate products, price points and distinctive experiences of each visit. Among obvious differences, my findings revealed incongruencies in the mission and ethics of one giant, and a resolve to the question of why each giant may serve a valid purpose beyond health consciousness.

History and Mission

For centuries chocolate has represented a broad range of symbolisms–including wealth, delicacy, medicinal healing, religious rituals, and pleasure. Over a period of the 16th through 20th century, Europe and New Spain produced 100 medicinal uses for cacao/chocolate, which included treatment of anemia, exhaustion, bowl dysfunction and skin irritations (Dillinger et al. 2057S). Today, we consume chocolate mainly for the purposes of pleasure and indulgence. This pleasure and indulgence is heightened by the allure of marketing and availability of chocolate products produced by manufacturers who have industrialized their brand for affordable global mass consumption and maximized profits. This industrial mass globalization of products were well represented in my visit to CVS, where I found the allure of chocolate advertisements and products to be excessive. In comparison, Whole Foods displayed a much smaller and more refined chocolate section.

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CVS Chocolate aisle
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CVS Chocolate products
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Whole Foods Chocolate section and products

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Consumer Value Stores (CVS), now CVS Health Corporation, was founded in 1963 by two brothers, and became the first store to sell health and beauty products, later expanding into pharmaceuticals and health management in 1967. CVSs mission statement reads: “Millions of times a day, close to home and across the country, we’re helping people on their path to better health” (CVS Health, Our Story).

With a closing revenue of $41.1 billion USD in 2015, a first quarter revenue of $20.1 billion USD as of March 2016 (Marketwatch), and the recent acquisition of Target’s pharmacies and clinics (CVS Health, History 2010s), CVS stands as the top national retail pharmaceutical company nationwide. Apart from their financial success, ethically I find their choice to sell Hershey, Nestle and Mars chocolate brands–all produced by GMO and child slave labor–where children are forced to pick cocoa beans to be sold to companies, beaten, abused and denied compensation for their work–to be deplorable and incongruent with their mission statement. From this, I can only assume that CVS is either ignorant to the truth that “better health” is not limited to pharmaceutical drugs and healthcare, but include the standards of ingredients of the food we consume. Moreover, “better health” should include and extend to the environmental conditions and treatment of labor workers who are responsible for creating chocolate for retail profit. The alternative possibility is that CVS just doesn’t care about the bean-to-bar process, rather reserving interest in chocolate reaching their shelves and retail portfolio. Overall, I find these possibilities to be the most disparate among these two giants.

In 1980 Whole Foods Market was founded by four local businessmen/women during a time when fewer than six natural food supermarkets existed in the United States. Their goal was to integrate the natural foods industry into a supermarket experience (Whole Foods Market, History). Today, Whole Foods Market closed 2015 with sales of $15 billion USD and reached $3.7 billion USD in sales the first quarter of this year. Their mission statement reads: “[H]ealthy means a whole lot more… [b]eyond good for you, to also encompass the greater good. [W]e offer a place for you to shop where value is inseparable from [our] values.” In line with their mission, they provide a list of unacceptable foods that contradict their values and standards, which they refuse to sell to their consumers.

Unlike CVS, Whole Foods value system is committed to creating health from a whole perspective, to include food consumption. Whole Foods prides the purchase of their chocolate through ethical sources (Whole Foods Market, Why Your Chocolate Choices Matter). In addition to their Organic Standards, which confirm a product has been produced through approved methods and met specific USDA verified requirements prior to labeling (Whole Foods Market, Organic), the foundation of their value system largely exists on Whole Trade. Whole Trade is a program which highlights their commitment to ethical trade, the environment and quality products sourced from developing nations (Whole Foods Market, Whole Trade). Many of the chocolate bars are also certified by Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, and third-party certifier which audits and certifies transactions between domestic companies and their international suppliers, to ensure that farmers and workers are paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment and receive community development funds to empower and improve their communities (Whole Foods Market, Fair Trade).

In further alignment with their mission and values, in 2012, Whole Foods ended their relationship with Scharffen Berger Chocolate, a high-end product of Hershey’s, over child labor abuses (International Labor Rights Forum). As Hershey provided no evidence to disprove their use of child labor abuse in producing their product when requested, Scharffen Berger was removed from Whole Foods shelves nationwide. Although this move was considered just and honorable by many, Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum, thought it to be contradictory. According to Gearhart, in more than one instance Whole Foods has “turned a blind eye” to the conduct of other suppliers who violate workers’ rights, by refusing to hold them equally accountable as Hershey (International Labor Rights Forum). Although there are arguments and critiques of the fairness involved in Fair trade, one being the exorbitant costs to farmers to attain certification for which they lack resources, I still view Whole Foods choice to partner with organizations and programs that pay attention and care about both the workers that produce the product, and the product ingredients, to be ethically honorable and socially responsible.

In data retrieved from Nielsen’s Global consumer study, respondents reported to care more about the ingredients which create their chocolate and preferring to “stick to the basics” (Nielsen 9). Nature-based ingredients scored 45% (9), but it was the environmentally conscious consumers that counted sustainability and organic among the most important in their snacking [experiences] (9). Based on these results, why do we continue to purchase chocolate from CVS?

Products and Price

In my visit to CVS, I had no challenge locating chocolate. From the registers near the front of the door leading to the aisle, I was surrounded by daunting quantities and advertisements of chocolate. Upon first observation, the magnitude of sale stickers and value buys that were gifted with increased quantities of purchase, were distracting. Noticeably leading in options were the Big Five chocolate competitors: Cadbury, Ferrero, Hershey’s, Mars and Nestle (the “Big Five”). The Big Five were the top five chocolate brand competitors who waged a chocolate war in China during the 1980’s – 90’s, with the purposes of introducing the then new product to Chinese consumers by creating a dominating brand presence. In the end, Mars emerged as the superior battle champion.
In CVS, the average cost of a chocolate bar was $2.50, with promotional sales for Buy 1- get-the 2nd 50% off and 2-for-$3.00. The lowest priced bar by Hershey’s Chocolate, cost $1.19. Shockingly, there was only one health conscious brand available, appearing to the far right: Endangered Species Chocolate. The Endangered Species Chocolate label advertised Fair Trade, Non-GMO Verified, Gluten Free Certified and Certified Vegan, at a modest price of $2.99 for 3 ounces. As socially conscious as Endangered Species Chocolate brand appears to be, with products rated at nearly five stars by consumers, I was disappointed when visiting their website that they chose to use an image of a young African child’s face to appear in connection to the phrase endangered species. Is there no consideration or awareness of how this image connotes racist beliefs about people of color? Moreover, is it their responsibility to be aware, or our responsibility to know the history of chocolate to bring awareness?

In my visit to Whole Foods, along with overwhelm and oversaturation of choices and products found at CVS, noticeably absent were the beloved Big Five. Available brands were Taza Chocolate, Icelandic Chocolate, Lake Champlain Chocolates and Whole Foods 365 Chocolate (to name a few). Though unfamiliar, I felt an instant attraction to these brands mainly due to the simplicity and sophistication of their wrappers and refined ingredients. Aesthetically and logistically, Whole Foods displays their chocolate in a small section–nestled amongst other products, with equal promotion. As there were sale advertisements on select chocolate products, similar to CVS of 2-for $3, the quality of chocolate was healthier and certified Fair Trade.

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Whole Foods sale advertisement for Organic and Fair Trade chocolate bars
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El Ceibo Fine Dark Chocolate Organic bars, $6.49.

The average price for a chocolate bar was $4.00 for 3 ounces. The most inexpensive bar was their Whole Foods 365 brand, boasting a label of Whole Trade and USDA Organic certifications at $2.49 for 3 ounces. The most expensive was $7.99 by El Ceibo, a fine dark chocolate brand from Bolivia. Although Ceibo’s label did not promote the popular certifications (e.g., Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, etc.) of their less expensive competitors, their core driving principle is environmentally sustainable production and respect for life, cultures and the environment. While fine chocolate is expected to be more expensive, do higher prices equal a better product?… According to Clay Gordon, creator of the chocolate lover’s website, The Chocolate Life, and internationally recognized independent authority on all things chocolate: Not so. Gordon states that “[although certain] bars might cost significantly more than… [CVS at] $7 [plus] per bar, [it is] because [you are] paying a fair price that actually accounts for the labor, shipment, and processing of the beans, instead of one artificially subsidized by abusive practices” (Shanker, 2013). Nevertheless, the ingredients of both bars pictured below bare clear distinctions of unknown ingredients, versus whole ingredients available in our kitchens and local supermarkets.

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Cadbury Daily Milk Chocolate bar,  $2.19.

 

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Cadbury Daily Milk Chocolate label ingredients, most artificial
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Whole Foods 365 Organic Dark Chocolate Almond bar, certified Whole Trade and USDA Organic, $2.49.
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Whole Foods 365 Organic Dark Chocolate Almond bar, certified Whole Trade and USDA Organic label ingredients, all localized and natural

Conclusion

In conclusion, I am left to wonder if the most overlooked distinction between CVS and Whole Foods is the why and how we choose to consume chocolate? A trip for snacks is usually a quick in-and-out venture that can happen anytime of the day or night. Avoiding the possibility of long lines at the grocery store is a deterrent. Nielsen reported 58% of consumers do not plan their snack purchases (Nielsen 13) and prefer them at arms-reach (15); with 31% purchased at the check-out counters; and 43% on sale (13). While chocolate sales do not affect my purchase choices, I admit that as much I love Whole Foods, when my sweet tooth aches for candy, I don’t immediately consider healthy options. Instead I beeline for convenience and the uber unconscious Snickers with Almonds, Raisinets, Almond M&M’s and Tootsie Rolls (not all at once, promise) – which are all available at CVS. However, on the days when I am more health conscious about my chocolate choices, I intentionally visit Whole Foods for my favorite Dark Chocolate and Almonds Bar with Sea Salt by Chocolove. I admit that there is a difference in how I feel when I purchase and indulge in my beloved Chocolove bar in comparison to Snickers and Kit Kat from CVS. In addition to taste and quality, the most important difference is that purchasing from Whole Foods feels more deliberate and rewarding–knowing that my investment in my personal wellness extends to the social, economic and financial wellness of others.

Both CVS and Whole Foods hold clear and distinct ideas and values on health, wellness and integrity. However, I count leading a company whose integrity corresponds with the brands they market and sell to their consumers as the greatest distinction. As a supermarket, Whole Foods has not limited their product offerings to just food; medicinal and healthcare products are also made available to their customers. In view of that fact, why does CVS limit their offerings of health and wellness to pharmaceutical products and healthcare? Perhaps as we continue to rise socially and globally to the occasion of conscious responsibility for our wellness and environmental safety, CVS will revisit their mission and branding to fully align the practices of chocolate manufacturers’ with their intent to “… help people on their path to better health.” In the meantime, I will continue my occasional beeline visits to conveniently fulfill my moments of unconscious consumption.

Citations

CVS Health. Web. 9 May 2016.

“CVS Health Reports First Quarter Results; Confirms 2016 Adjusted EPS Guidance.” Marketwatch Online, 2016. Web. 9 May 2016.

Dillinger, T.L. et al. “Food of the Gods: Cure for Humanity? A Cultural History of the Medicinal and Ritual Use of Chocolate.” The Journal of Nutrition 130 (2000): 2057S-2072S. Web. 9 May 2016.

Nielsen. “Snack Attack. What Consumers are reaching for around the world.”  September 2014. Web PDF. 9 May 2016.

Shanker, Deena. “A Guide to ethical chocolate.” Grist, 13 Feb. 2002. Web. 9 May 2016.

Whole Foods Market. Web. May 2016.

“Whole Foods Drops Hershey’s Scharffen Berger Chocolates Over Child Labor Abuses.” International Labor Rights Forum. Press Releases, 2012. Web. 9 May 2016.

Solutions to ethical dilemmas in the cacao-chocolate industry by the bean-to-bar chocolate company, Taza Chocolate.

  1. Introduction

Taza is a bean-to-bar chocolate company based in Somerville, MA, that addresses contemporary issues in the cacao-chocolate supply chain in unique ways. Founded in 2005 as a small, local company, operating on one rented floor of a warehouse in Somerville, the company focused on ethical trade and organic production, in addition to traditional production methods, from its inception. It has now expanded to a nationally sold company with enough capital to more effectively influence the cacao supply chain. By investing and interacting directly with organic cacao farms in South America and the Caribbean, the company is able to ensure that more money is going directly to the farmers and that ethical farming practices are being rewarded. They call this practice “direct trade,” and developed it as an alternative to Fair Trade, which has become controversial in recent years due to questions over its actual impact on small farmers and the cost and difficulty of obtaining such a certification. Further, in order to ensure their own adherence to this direct trade model, as well as to open the possibility of other companies aligning with this model, they have hired a third-party company to verify their sourcing program every year according to the policies they laid out. In addition to their Direct Trade program, Taza also maintains a high ethical standard in other company practices. In reviewing their materials, one finds that they do not rely on exploitation of the image of the cacao farmer as a victim, but instead use images and language that portray them as strong, independent individuals, with pride in their work. They do not rely on exploitative sexual or racial images in their advertising, as too many contemporary chocolate companies do, but instead rely on the unique quality of their product. In these ways, Taza is one of the most ethical chocolate companies currently in operation, and should be used as a model for other companies.

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Taza Direct Trade Certification Logo. Taza has outlined a list of rules to which they adhere and are held accountable by a third party organization they hired.
  1. Current issues in the cacao trade

Cacao is an export of developing countries in tropical regions, and as such, is faced with the economic and agricultural issues associated with developing countries. Cacao is often purchased by middlemen in the country or region in which it is produced, who then export the product to chocolate producers abroad, mostly in the U.S. and Europe. These middlemen purchase cacao from farmers at much lower prices than the global value of cacao, thus earning most of the export’s value for themselves, and returning little to the farmers. This system can sometimes be simply be a result of exploitative middlemen, yet may also be more complicated; often, a combination of local and national laws and regulations, social or societal norms and expectations, and access to global markets, plays a role in this low monetary return to the cacao farmers (Martin, Lecture 8). Whatever the case, the low wages paid to individual cacao farmers has a negative effect on the industry in a variety of ways: forced or coerced labor can result if farmers are under pressure to produce products at such a low cost, unsustainable practices are used, and there is little incentive to improve the quality of the product (Sylla, 26-40; Off, 100-140; Berlan, 2013).

These issues are not new to the cacao industry. Following the abolition of slavery, slave labor or ‘unfree’ labor practices continued on cacao plantations in parts of Africa (Higgs, 133-150), and have continued to this day. Presently, one of the largest, and most publicized, labor issues in cacao production is the use of child labor. The causes of this coerced labor are often very complex and difficult to address, and can range from direct child trafficking in clearly forced labor situations, to micro-pressures such as fear of family breakdown or socio-cultural tradition (Berlan, 2013). Further, the growing popularity and commercialization of chocolate in the U.S. and Europe throughout the 20th century caused a push for larger quantities of cheaper cacao beans, and local and international responses to agricultural and economic events throughout this time period has further complicated production and exportation (Martin, Lecture 8).

 

  1. Attempts at repairing the cacao trade

Because these issues in the cacao industry are difficult to understand and cannot be easily generalized, the responsibility falls on chocolate companies to ensure that the beans they purchase are ethically produced. As local governments and international organizations are often unable to adequately enforce fair labor practices broadly, responses to such issues have mostly taken the form of using the free market to incentivize adherence to a set of principles in cacao and other agricultural practices.

 

3.1. Fair Trade’s impact and controversies

One of the most well known of such incentivizing organizations is Fair Trade USA, which promises fair wages to workers, no use of forced, child, or exploited labor, safe working conditions and reasonable hours, and environmental sustainability, among others (Martin, Lecture 10; Fair Trade USA, Mission/Values). Whether Fair Trade USA succeeds in these goals is unclear, yet the company certainly has at the very least raised consumer awareness about the issues facing the farmers that produce much of the world’s chocolate, coffee, sugar, and even produce. However, critics of Fair Trade USA believe that the organization fails in the following ways: fails to deliver the promised higher wages to the individual farmer and to developing countries in general; makes it too hard and expensive to obtain certification, so that only large, wealthy farms are able to obtain it; it actually harms small farms that do not have certification; they do not incentivize quality; and it fails to adequately monitor standards; and the farmers do not have enough of a say in the production of their product, among others (Martin, 10; Dickinson; The Fair Trade Shell Game).

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Screen grab from “The Fair Trade Shell Game,” which criticizes the Fair Trade USA certification. The major complaint of this video was the lack of incentives for increased quality of the product in Fair Trade farms, and the lack of farmer input into the process.

3.2. Taza’s solution: Direct Trade

Taza decided to pursue a different approach to ethical sourcing of cacao beans for their chocolate. Rather than relying on an organization like Fair Trade USA to certify cacao farms with its standards of ethical trade and not necessarily effective practices, Taza began engaging with cacao farms directly, investing in farms that would agree to meet their standards of ethical production. This approach is called ‘Direct’ trade, and involves direct engagement of the chocolate company with their bean producers. This means the company must send a representative to each cacao farm they buy beans from at least once a year to check in and ensure their standards are still being upheld, and while it requires more effort on the part of the chocolate company, it seems to have a clearer positive impact on the farmers and their communities than Fair Trade does.

The clearest way in which Direct Trade is a better alternative to Fair Trade for achieving the same goals is its placement of financial responsibility with the cacao buyer, as opposed to the cacao producer. The cacao farms involved in direct trade with Taza, as opposed to those that go through the Fair Trade certification process, do not have to pay to have their farms certified in order to receive the higher premiums. Rather, Taza takes the responsibility of visiting farms and cooperatives, investing in, and paying higher premiums to ones that agree to meet their direct trade program commitments. Additionally, in 2011 Taza took the step of hiring a third party to certify their adherence to this program, to ensure that they do not deviate from the values themselves, thus taking further responsibility in ensuring their beans are ethically produced (Taza, Taza Direct Trade). Having the financial responsibility fall on the chocolate companies that buy the cacao beans ensures that more money is making it back to the farmers, and allows for smaller farms with less capital to participate in the program.

The Taza Direct Trade Program is verified by the third party company Quality Certification Services, and consists of five ‘commitments,’ or rules to which Taza must adhere. The first two of these commitments have already been mentioned, and are 1) the development of direct relationships with the farmers from which they purchase their beans, and 2) the payment of a premium to their cacao producers, specifically a premium of at least 500 US dollars per metric ton. The program then also has a quality standard based on fermentation rate and moisture of the beans, requires USDA organic certification from their suppliers, and requires Taza to produce an annual transparency report that details their cacao bean purchases and interactions with the farmers over the prior year (Taza, Direct Trade Program Commitments). One can see the way in which these rules interact to ensure more benefits for the farmers, as well as incentivize increased quality of the cacao beans: their paying of high premiums, along with quality standards and farm visits, rewards farmers for production of better beans; their commitment to produce an annual transparency report that is verified by a third party ensures that they continue to treat their producers ethically as outlined in their first two commitments.

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Cover of a transparency report by Taza Chocolate. The Transparency reports detail interactions with farmers with photographs and descriptions, as well as accounts of trade. This photo is also a demonstration of positive portrayal of cacao farmers, as described in section 4.

There is one imperfection with the Taza Direct Trade Program that stands out: their requirement of USDA organic certification, a certification for which the farmers need to pay and which cannot be reimbursed by the USDA in any of the countries in which Taza has cacao suppliers (USDA, Organic Cost Share Programs). This requirement is reminiscent of Fair Trade USA, despite Taza’s desire differentiate itself from Fair Trade USA and to reduce the burden it places on the cacao producers. However, the USDA certification is often less expensive than Fair Trade certification, and many companies that purchase Fair Trade agricultural products would also require USDA organic certification, making the Taza Direct Trade Program still substantially less expensive for farmers than Fair Trade, and Taza investment in new cacao farms alleviates such costs (USDA, Organic Certification and Accreditation; Taza, Annual Transparency Reports 2011-2015).

 

  1. Taza’s other positive influences

In addition to Taza’s Direct Trade Program, the company also maintains high ethical standards in their advertising and their portrayal of cacao farmers. They do not rely on the sexualization of women to sell their chocolate, as many companies do, but instead use their ethical sourcing practices and the uniqueness of their product to sell their chocolate bars. Further, they do not exploit the image of cacao farmers as victims when portraying their ethical sourcing, but instead use images of the farmers proudly displaying their work, and write about the farmers’ lives, interests, struggles, and successes, in a very human and relatable way in their transparency reports (Taza, Transparency Reports 2011-2015). For these reasons in addition to their excellent direct trade program, Taza should be used as a model for other chocolate companies in combating the ethical problems in the cacao-chocolate industry.

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Screen grab from a dutch video that portrays cacao farmers in Africa only in the context of ‘exploited.’ The intentions of the video-makers are in the right place, but portrayals like this support an exploiter/exploited binary that is oversimplified.
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This photo from a transparency report is instead a good example of portrayal of cacao farmers as relatable people, with pride for their work
  1. References

Berlan, Amanda. “Social sustainability in agriculture: An anthropological perspective on    child labour in cocoa production in Ghana.” The Journal of Development   Studies 49.8 (2013): 1088-1100.

Dickinson, Rink. “An Analysis of Fair Trade: Reflections from a Co-founder.”       InterReligious Task Force on Central America. Cleveland, Ohio. 02 May 2016.   Speech.

First Taste of Chocolate in Ivory CoastMetropolis. VPRO Metropolis, 21 Feb. 2014.      Web. 30 Apr. 2016.

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

Kierz, Shane. Front Cover, Taza Annual Transparency Report 2014. Digital image. Taza   Chocolate Company. Taza Chocolate Company, Sept. 2014. Web. 3 May 2016.

Last, Jesse. Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Report. Rep. 2015 ed. Somerville,         MA: Taza Chocolate, 2015. Print.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 8: Modern Day Slavery.” Aframer 119x. CGIS, Cambridge,       MA. 22 Mar. 2016. Lecture.

Martin, Carla D. “Lecture 10: Alternative Trade and Virtuous Localization/            Globalization.” Aframer 119x. CGIS, Cambridge, MA. 6 Apr. 2016. Lecture.

“Mission/Values.” Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade USA, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

Off, Carol. Bitter chocolate: Investigating the dark side of the world’s most seductive         sweet. Vintage Canada, 2010.

“Organic Certification and Accreditation.” Agricultural Marketing Service. United States   Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.

“Organic Cost Share Programs.” Agricultural Marketing Service. United States       Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.

Our Direct Trade Program Commitments. List of Principles. Somerville, MA: Taza          Chocolate, n.d. Print.

Sylla, Ndongo. The fair trade scandal: Marketing poverty to benefit the rich. Ohio University Press, 2014.

“Taza Direct Trade.” Taza Chocolate. Taza Chocolate Company, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

Taza Direct Trade Certified Logo. Digital image. Taza Chocolate Company. Taza Chocolate Company, n.d. Web. 2 May 2016.

The Fair Trade Shell Game. Markham Nolan, Dusan Sekulovic, and Sara    Rao. Vocative.             Vocative, 20 Dec. 2013. Web. 4 May 2016.

Whitmore, Alex. Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Report. Rep. 2014 ed.       Somerville, MA: Taza Chocolate, 2014. Print.

Whitmore, Alex. Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Report. Rep. 2013 ed.       Somerville, MA: Taza Chocolate, 2013. Print.

Whitmore, Alex. Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Report. Rep. 2012 ed.       Somerville, MA: Taza Chocolate, 2012. Print.

Whitmore, Alex. Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Report. Rep. 2011 ed.       Somerville, MA: Taza Chocolate, 2011. Print.

Whitmore, Alex. Gabriel Pop, General Manager at Maya Mountain Cacao, proudly          stands in their new drying house. Digital image. Taza Chocolate Company. Taza           Chocolate Company, Sept. 2012. Web. 3 May 2016.