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African Chocolate

June 8, 2015

Cacao Farmers that I met at the conference in Amsterdam.

Cacao Farmers that I met at the conference in Amsterdam.

As many of you know I have avoided using African chocolate due to potential issues with child labor or slave labor. I recently attended the Chocoa Conference in Amsterdam that focused on production and sustainability of chocolate. I learned that several of the large chocolate companies, and some smaller ones, are working hard to combat these issues of labor as well as addressing education and good agricultural practices. I also learned that farmers in Cote d’Ivoire are making less than 51 cents per day, in Ghana not much better, less than 80 cents per day. This made me realize that rather than avoiding these countries, they are the ones that I want to support and work toward helping those farmers earn a living wage. I will continue to use Central and South American chocolate, but I will be adding, as I can, more chocolate from West Africa.

One of the companies making a difference is Guittard Chocolate Company. They are a member of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and working with the WCF on several programs to aid farmers in West Africa. One of the programs they are working on is the WCF Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solutions (ECHOES). The program strengthens cocoa-growing communities by expanding opportunities for youth and young adults through education. Another program is the The WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program (WCF/CLP) which increases farmer income while strengthening local service capacity through three main objectives: 1) improve market efficiency and build capacity of farmers and farmer organizations; 2) improve production and quality of cocoa at the farm level; and, 3) improve farmers’ competitiveness on diversified farms. Guittard also works with Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance.

Another major company is Barry Callebaut. They have a program called “Growing Great Chocolate” focusing on growing cocoa quality, growing farmer income, and growing quality of life. For more detailed information check these web pages: Callebaut: Great Cocoa for Tomorrow and Barry Callebaut: Sustainability.

I plan on using more African chocolate in the future to support the farmers and efforts to help them out of poverty. The first African chocolate we are using is from Madagascar. It is a 65% cacao and has a sweet raisin taste. Stay tuned for more chocolate news…

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