Cocoa was, for most farmers, a poverty crop. Twelve years ago when the first Chocolate Week was unveiled, the plight of most cocoa farmers was serious. Child slave labour on cocoa farms seemed unchecked and Fairtrade was no guarantee of ethical chocolate. The first year of Chocolate Week, chocolate was in trouble.
In the twelve years since it started, Chocolate Week has been at the centre of helping to not only educate UK consumers but also elevate the situation of cocoa farmers through paying them a fairer price. Through a combination of relentless education and increasing the awareness of and the visibility of artisan chocolate makers, the UK chocolate consumer is now making better choices.
In Waitrose you can purchase British chocolate maker Willie's Delectable Cacao. This chocolate is made from beans bought direct from source or from Willie's plantation meaning fewer people take a cut meaning more of the money goes to the farmer meaning those farmers are better off. Divine is even more readily available and while not as flavourful as Willie's creations, it is 44% owned by the farmers who are part of the cooperatives that Divine purchases their beans from. That means the farmers benefit doubly and they were the founding supporter of Chocolate Week. Amazingly ethical chocolate from an amazingly ethical chocolate company who helped kick off Chocolate Week.
Some of the most ethical and high quality chocolate is now available in the supermarket and UK shoppers can make the choice to choose ethical chocolate from Divine or Willie or even Green & Blacks who also help farmers in the Dominican Republic with fermentation stations and better facilities as well as ensuring better farming practices.
Outside the supermarket Selfridges London has a Chocolate Library where you can learn about and buy bars from all over the world. This has become the mecca for any serious chocolate aficionado. Here you will find an expert to help you choose your bar as well as bars from ethical companies like Original Beans or chocolate makers adding value in origin to keep more value in the areas chocolate comes from like Marou or Chocolat Madagascar. These companies keep more money and skills in the country chocolate is grown in, helping improve lives of people there further.
Godiva and Hotel Chocolat have both launched lines of origin bars in time for Chocolate Week. Hotel Chocolat has rebranded and changed the shape of their origin bars, as well as adding origin Supermilk rather than the West African they had before, as well as relaunching their 100%. Hotel Chocolat do work hard on ensuring that they work well with origin cacao.
With slightly less bean sourcing transparency but still focusing on origin is Godiva who are not only launching but sampling their origin bars in store this chocolate week. They have specifically launched their line of origin bars this Chocolate Week, demonstrating the importance this week has gained over the twelve years it has been happening and the release of origin bars shows how important origin has become.
Understanding the origins of your chocolate has become the focus for every chocolate lover but for consumers too. People are no longer satisfied with bulk purchased cacao which is mouldy and produced using child slave labour. Consumers have become more aware of the importance of Fairtrade in making sure farmers are paid more than commodity prices but also how critical buying direct from the farmer is. Consumers are more aware of origin and flavour and quality.
Held at Olympia, the Chocolate Show is one of the places artisan chocolate makers sell their bars which are not normally available in the UK. With makers like Islington-based Damson Chocolate as well as Madagascar-based Chocolat Madagascar having appeared in the past, the Chocolate Show is the best place to buy ethical, directly-traded chocolate.
This Chocolate Week stop buying child slave labour produced chocolate and switch to ethical directly-traded chocolate or at the very least Fairtrade chocolate.