Tag Archives: Lindt & Sprungli

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and Social Sustainability

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

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

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

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

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

Lindt & Sprüngli  Family Welcomes Ghirardelli and others.

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

Lindt & Sprüngli wholly owned subsidiaries and their brands

Social Sustainability Policies and Practices

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

Lindt & Sprüngli’s Farming Program Seal

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

Ghana Cacao farming is a family and community effort

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

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


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


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

Farmer and Community Investment and Development

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

Verification and Continuous Improvement

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

Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. and
Lindt & Sprüngli: Global Citizens

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Earthworm Foundation. (2019, April 27). Target Members. Retrieved from https://www.earthworm.org/about-us#target-members: https://www.earthworm.org/about-us#target-members

Ghirardelli. (2019, April 22). About Ghiradelli. Retrieved from https://www.ghirardelli.com: https://www.ghirardelli.com/about-ghirardelli

James Lick. (2019, April 15). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lick

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

Lindt & Sprüngli . (2019, April 28). Corporate Sustainability. Retrieved from https://www.lindt-spruengli.com: https://www.lindt-spruengli.com/sustainability/

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

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

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

United Nations. (2019, April 28). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from https://www.un.org: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

Wiki. (2019, April 16). Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghirardelli_Chocolate_Compan