A close up of cacao beans held in a someone's hands

Indulge responsibly: Celebrating world chocolate day

We don’t need much of an excuse to enjoy chocolate, but in case you were looking for one: July 7th is World Chocolate Day. It’s a great chance to enjoy our favourite sweet treat in any form – milk, white or dark, in a bar or a box.

A brief history of chocolate

Supposedly, July 7th is the day in 1550 that chocolate was introduced to Europe (although there is some doubt around this).

Mexico, Central and South America had been enjoying chocolate in one form or another for several thousand years by that point. Originally it was consumed as a bitter drink – in fact “chocolate”, a loan word from Spanish, is theorised to come from xocolatl(“bitter water”)in the Aztec language of Nahuatl.

Chocolate today

Today chocolate is a versatile and beloved food enjoyed all around the world, both on its own and as an ingredient in cakes, cookies, puddings and mousses. But its popularity has come at a cost. The cocoa bean industry is currently plagued by ethical issues.

Ethical concerns in cocoa farming

With the falling price of cocoa, many cocoa farmers – especially women – are shockingly underpaid, some making as little as 30 cents a day. With such extreme levels of poverty, it’s perhaps no surprise that child labour is also increasingly widespread. An estimated 2.1 million children work on cocoa farms in West Africa, plus a further 8,000 in Brazil.

There are ecological concerns too. The drive to plant more cacao trees often leads to deforestation to make space, and the pesticides used can pollute water systems and cause further complications in the local ecosystem.

Evidence of these abuses is routinely hidden and it’s possible that we still don’t know the full extent of the problem. Here at Ethical Superstore, we like to work with brands who care about where their ingredients come from and are taking steps to combat exploitation.  

Ethical chocolate brands

Divine chocolate

Divine vegan chocolate bars lined up against a blue background

Every Divine Chocolate product is Fairtrade-approved, and they’re a certified B Corporation, meaning they meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.  They’re the only Fairtrade chocolate company co-owned by a farmers’ union – Kuapa Kokoo.

Women worker from Kuapo Kokoo smiling and holding a Divine Chocolate bar

Tony’s Chocolonely

Tony’s aren’t satisfied with just keeping their own chocolate slavery-free – it needs to be the new standard for the industry. They’re leading by example, working with traceable cocoa and paying farmers a premium, but that’s just the start. They’re constantly looking for new ways to raise awareness and inspire other companies to take similar action.

Ombar

Ombar work with raw cacao for its richer flavour and high level of antioxidants. They avoid monoculture plantations and pay their farmers a steady income that’s significantly higher than Fair Trade prices, with the extra money going to local community projects.

Vivani

Vivani have partnered with the Weinrich Chocolate Factory and the Fuparoca Foundation to improve the livelihoods of farmers and their families in the Dominican Republic, where much of their cocoa is sourced. Key targets are increased crop yields and biodiversity and premium wages for farmers.

Montezuma’s

Montezuma’s Business Done Properly policy reflects their commitment to a set of values including anti-slavery, anti-deforestation and ethical sourcing of ingredients. For the last ten years they’ve worked with Children on the Edge, a charity helping marginalised children.

Montezuma's chocolate bar library in packaging with a stack of bars not in packaging next to it

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