The Complete Guide To Fair Trade Chocolate

In collaboration with Traidcraft

Did you know that the Fairtrade System currently works with more than 1.65 million farmers across 74 different countries around the world, bringing us some of the most delicious treats known to man — one being chocolate, a worldwide favourite. When it comes to determining what type of chocolate person you are, there is plenty to consider; are you a milk chocolate maestro or do you love to indulge in some dark chocolate?

Research suggests that annually, Britain consumes 660,900 tonnes of chocolate, which equates to 11kg per person. That is three bars a week (side note: I’m pretty sure I have more than this and the same can be said for most people I know too…whoops!) This highlights just how popular chocolate has become, but where does chocolate come from?

Cocoa from Bolivia: El Celibo

Chocolate creation requires very specific environmental conditions with every bar that is produced. This makes Bolivia a great place for production. But did you know that there are six million growers, farmers and processors across Africa, Asia and Latin America to meet the demands of the rest of the world? I bet you didn’t!

Chocolate is the end result of hard workers from one of the world’s poorest country; Bolivia. Bolivia has an estimated population of 10.89 million people and sits alongside Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru in South America.

It has a deep history of cultivating cocoa, starting in the 1960s, however the majority of growers seem to hail from the Alto Beni region. Some of the farmers have now started to grow organic bananas, citrus fruits and vegetables too.

Established in 1977, El Ceibo works with 50 co-operatives across Bolivia and reaches out to around 1,106 men and 194 women farmers from different ethnic groups. The majority of the additional money earned from their own fair-trade cocoa is handily used to fund the technical agricultural support they need, a programme that replaces cocoa plants and deforestation.

History of Chocolate

São Tomé, located on the West coast of Africa, is made up of two main islands, as well as several islets, and is often referred to as ‘Chocolate Island’. It has a rather small populations of 200,000 people so as you can imagine, many of the residents’ incomes come from cocoa and the island’s signature bean — criollo bean which has been farmed there since the 1700s.

But chocolate has a lot more history than you might think. Traidcraft Shop, KEYWORD have provided the following graphic:

Fair Trade Facts: Chocolate Edition

Do you know the main differences between traditional and raw chocolate?

Raw chocolate usually contains fewer ingredients than traditional chocolate — such as cocoa powder, cocoa butter, coconut blossom sugar, and raw fruit or seeds. The traditional chocolate we all know and love can contain milk, soya, sugars, sweeteners, soya, and a host of artificial flavourings and preservatives – not quite so natural, right? While Traidcraft’s fair trade vegan chocolate may not be raw chocolate, they have kept the recipe as natural as possible — fair trade, organic, and free from GMOs, cheap emulsifiers, cheap oils, artificial colours or preservatives.

Another thing you may not have known is that cocoa beans that are used for raw chocolate are never heated above 42 degrees – isn’t that interesting when you consider that when it comes to commercial chocolate, the cocoa beans are roasted at a temperature between 130 and 400 degrees – a stark difference, right? When drying cocoa beans for raw chocolate, some cocoa growers just leave their beans outdoors to dry naturally in the sunlight!

Do you know the main differences between cocoa and cacao?

Cocoa and cacao are technically the same plant and although the words cocoa and cacao are often used interchangeably,  cocoa is the usual term used for cacao that’s been fermented, dried, and roasted at high temperatures. It is then pressed until all the oils are separated and the solids that remain can be turned into a dry powder — cocoa powder. Cacao powder is made in a very similar way, but at a far lower temperature.

Where is cocoa originally grown?

The Theobroma Cacao has been used throughout time for nutritional and medicinal benefits and is native to Central America. This scientific name translates as ‘food of the gods’. These trees produce pods which contain 20-40 cacao beans,  these beans eventually get turned into chocolate. The Theobroma Cacao trees grow most successfully in a narrow band called the Cocoa Belt or the Chocolate Belt which extends up to 20 degrees north and south of the equator.

Was chocolate worth more than gold?

You may have heard this potential rumour in the past. It is true – back in the Mayan period, cocoa beans were worth more than gold and were even used as currency – how cool! The Mayans maintained the value of cocoa beans by restricting the harvesting of the beans.

Have cocoa farmers ever tasted chocolate?

The majority of cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate which I personally find shocking! But it is understandable as the beans are shipped almost instantly, as if chocolate was created in these typically warm countries, it would melt! Many cocoa farmers will have never tasted chocolate in their lives. In 2017, Traidcraft hosted Linda, a cocoa farmer from the co-operative Kuapa Kokoo (and who grows fair trade cocoa for the Divine Chocolate Company), and she reminded us that any chocolate left lying around in Ghana would just melt anyway!

Did you know all this about chocolate? Or did you learn something new today?

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