7 Brands of Fair Trade Chocolate (NOT Owned by Corporations)

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I am really enthusiastic about directing people toward higher-quality chocolate created from reasonably priced cocoa. Yet, determining the finest fair trade chocolate companies may be difficult, particularly when the phrase “fair trade chocolate” has grown so broad.

There are now hundreds of fair trade certifications available, each with its own cost, content, and sustainability guidelines.

There are many chocolate firms that claim to create Fair Trade chocolate but are really controlled by one of the Big 5 chocolate giants. Thus, in the end, the only Fair Trade chocolate brands I’d suggest are those owned by independent businesses with clear sourcing processes. Annual reports are frequently posted on company websites, rather than merely a collection of stickers slapped onto a bar at a supermarket.

I receive so many inquiries about the greatest, most sustainable, and ethical chocolates that I decided to include a few of my favorite fair trade chocolate businesses below. People really want to purchase better chocolate, and although I urge you to seek out a local handmade chocolate producer, I understand that it might be simpler to settle for what is available online.

Fair Trade Chocolate Frequently Asked Questions

What does fair trade entail in the context of chocolate?

Since Fair Trade has split into several organizations, it is impossible to generalize what one fair trade badge represents over another. Yet, the fair trade movement is unrelated to the environment (thats Rainforest Alliance certified). Rather, it began with the intention of giving farmers greater, more equal rates for their products. In the case of chocolate, this entails paying cocoa growers around 20% more than the market price, however the exact number varies depending on the label.

Which brands of chocolate are fair trade?

Unfortunately, most conventional chocolate companies do not use fair trade or direct trade cocoa. Divine Chocolate, Theo Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Alter Eco, Raaka Chocolate, and Unreal Chocolate are some sustainable chocolate companies that employ fair trade cocoa.

How can I know whether the chocolate I’m buying is fair trade?

Every fair trade chocolate will be labeled with one of the labels shown below, among others. Yet, there are several methods for a firm to engage in fair trade labor standards, thus it is essential to visit the companies’ websites to examine their specific certifications.

Is Ghirardelli chocolate ethically sourced?

Ghirardelli Chocolate is not certified as fair trade. On their website, they say that they can 100% track where their cocoa comes from, which raises the question, where does Ghirardelli obtain their chocolate?

Is fair trade chocolate better than regular chocolate?

Fair Trade certified chocolate is often superior than normal chocolate. That is to say, although Fair Trade chocolate companies promise no forced labor, they do not guarantee the flavor or quality of the chocolate created from them. Endangered Species chocolate, for example, is Fair Trade, although it is notoriously bad tasting. Even rebranding packaging cannot mask that amount of bitterness.

Fair Trade Certified Chocolate Brands

Authentic Beans

The Original Beans Fair +model, which realizes that a safety net based on changing prices drives farmers to find additional sources of income, is at the top of my list. Original Beans was founded in 2008 with the goal of producing sustainably produced, high-quality cocoa that pays farmers a decent income via direct trade. They are a member of Direct Cacao, an association of bean-to-bar chocolate producers that pay farmers substantially more than the Fair Trade minimum price for their cocoa beans.

An interview in 2022 highlights the qualities Original Beans looks for when selecting farmers to partner with. They consider the environmental effect, the possibility of discovering and maintaining uncommon cocoa variations, and the existence of a community with whom they may establish long-term ties. Under their Sourced-by-Original Beans criteria, they source cocoa bean origins for handmade chocolate producers (and can ship cocoa to smaller makers in bags of 50-60 kg or even less).

Their team collects yearly incomes from cocoa farmers in various locations and determines the sales needed to earn a similar annual income. Original Beans guarantees its producers a multi-year set purchase price that is double the price of fair trade. Farmers are therefore supported and motivated to create high-quality products and avoid the need for children to labor on farms.

I interviewed Jan Schubert, Original Beans’ South America area cacao sourcer, a few years ago; you can listen to the conversation here.

heavenly chocolate

Fair Trade certified chocolate has its share of makers that are making a difference. Divine Chocolate Ltd was founded in the United Kingdom in 1998, with the Ghanaian fairtrade cocoa farmer co-operative Kuapa Kokoo owning 45% of the company at the time. They began as Day Chocolate Company and collaborated with Twin Trade, The Body Shop International, and Christian Aid for logistical, financial, and marketing assistance.

Divine Chocolate earned several accolades in the ethical, social, and taste categories from 2002 to 2015, slowly but gradually developing the firm. They also collaborated with Comic Relief, a British charity, in 2000 to create the Dubble chocolate bar, which continues to assist finance the creation of water wells and schools in Ghana. Divine’s strategy was groundbreaking at the time since it was the first of its type to enable farmers to acquire stock in the firm.

Divine’s activities to raise awareness of Fair Trade, ethical commerce in general, inclusiveness in the chocolate business, and the situation of cocoa farmers continue. They are currently one of numerous farmer-owned chocolate firms worldwide.

Change the Environment

Alter Eco used to offer a broad variety of Fairtrade goods before narrowing its emphasis to chocolate. They place a strong focus on agroforestry and supply chain regeneration via reinvestment and enhancement of cocoa agriculture. In addition to selling Fairtrade certified items, Alter Eco was accredited as an aB Company in 2009.

This additional certification shows that a company has met a high standard of verified business practices in the areas of social and environmental obligations, legal commitments, and transparency. By boosting purchasing volume, their decision to concentrate on vegan chocolate and quinoa goods maximized growth and impact. The chocolates themselves are made in Switzerland, and in addition to being fair trade, they are all certified organic and non-GMO.

Alter Eco has earned honors for its chocolate and ecological packaging throughout the years, and was recognized as a fast-growing private business between 2016 and 2017.

They were placed second on the Chocolate Scorecard in 2022 for their ethical labor practices, farmer remuneration, transparency, and sustainable chocolate production. Alter Eco USA is certified Fair Trade under the Fair For Life program, for those who are familiar with the various Fair Trade labels. An ISO 26000 compliant initiative was established to supplement FLOs concept by including farmers in Eastern Europe and including more specialized goods.

UnrealChocolate

Unreal Chocolate, a relative newcomer to the fair trade chocolate companies landscape, was founded by a pair of brothers who wanted to recreate their childhood favorites without the preservatives and artificial flavors. Although this is a great ideal, it is much easier said than done. Yet, throughout the years that I’ve tried their goods, I’ve been consistently pleased with the taste and quality of their milk and dark chocolates.

I have to admit that their sweets are described as chocolate nibbles. Their nut butter cups and gems (high grade M&Ms) are excellent chocolate, and all of their goods are soy-free and mainly organic. Investing in one of their brightly colored packets is ideal for individuals wishing to add a pleasant little something to packed lunches or trail mixes. They can even be resealed.

Chocolate Theo

Theo has grown to be by far one of the most open and transparent bigger fair trade chocolate enterprises since its inception in 2006. They continue to obtain more than two-thirds of their chocolate from farmers in West Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the firm is both certified organic and Fair for Life. While the founders no longer control the firm entirely, one of them is the majority shareholder, so I believe it is still in excellent hands.

Moreover, in their Seattle-based chocolate factory, they maintain an open door policy, offering daily visits and a range of chocolate workshops. Their product line has expanded throughout time, with their 45% milk chocolate containing the least amount of cacao. It’s quite astonishing that you can’t locate a Theo chocolate bar that has less than 45% cocoa bean components.

Its milk chocolate is smooth and thick, and each season provides its own speciality bar, such as horchata in colder weather and fresh lemon in spring. Their 70% dark chocolate is a delicious but not overpoweringly flavored foundation for the majority of their bars, which may reach 85% dark chocolate. For those looking for peanut butter cups, Theos are my go-to, and they come in both dark and milk chocolate.

Cocoa Raaka

Raaka Chocolate manufactures 100% vegan, unroasted chocolate. This implies that the components they employ are devoid of animal products, and the cacao was not subjected to the extreme heat used in chocolate manufacture. Raaka’s two-man team has been spreading its vegan chocolate to the globe since their launch in Brooklyn in 2010. From their opening, many have mistakenly labeled them as a raw chocolate business.

Their objective has always been to establish a firm and farmer relationships that benefit everyone in the value chain. Their normal bar lineup includes anything from 60% coconut milk chocolate to an 82% bourbon barrel aged chocolate, all produced with one of three or four distinct single origin cacaos. The earthy undertone I detect in all of their bars isn’t for everyone, so try one before committing to their full lineup.

If you happen to be in Brooklyn on a Saturday or Sunday, you may visit the Raaka chocolate factory in Red Hook for a tour, sampling, and learning experience. Instead, you may get their bars at certain Whole Foods stores and on Amazon.

Interchange of Equals

Equal Exchange is a for-profit, worker-owned cooperative that sells Fairtrade merchandise. They were formed in 1986 and are based in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, making them the United States’ oldest Fair Trade Coffee business. They mostly form long-term agreements with coffee producers, giving better prices than the free market.

They also sell the miniature red Equal Exchange Chocolates that many of us used to distribute around Halloween. They also have three caf├ęs in the United States (in Washington, Illinois, and Ohio) and a UK co-operative affiliate that shares some product lines. Notwithstanding TransFair USA’s resignation from the Fairtrade International alliance, Equal Exchange has taken a stand to defend real Fair Trade values, which gives me optimism for their continuing ethical chocolate manufacture.

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