“There is too much power in the hands of the chocolate manufacturers in comparison to the hands of the cacao growers…. In order for the business to be really sustainable over the long term, that power dynamic needs to change.” [Cacao growers] “have too little power to make decisions about the future of the industry.” [Cacao]
-Greg D’Alesandre, Dandelion Chocolate
Greg D’Alesandre defies almost all attempts to characterize him. Since 2012, he has been an integral part of the Dandelion Chocolate team, which is tasked with establishing itself as a sustainable and reputable enterprise that brings cacao farmers and chocolate consumers together. His self-designated title of cacao sourcerer is a nod to his extensive work with cacao producers around the world, which now numbers over 30 countries and hundreds of farms visited. Whether or not there is actual magic involved, we’ll never know.
This interview provides an open and honest look at some of his extensive work to elevate cacao farmers and the overall profile of craft chocolate around the world. We delve deeper into the shifting power dynamics, the responsibility of chocolate manufacturers, and some of the industry’s most influential changemakers. I really hope that you take as much pleasure in hearing about our conversation as I did in having it.
Please take note that the topic of where cacao comes from features prominently in my questions as a direct result of the podcast episode for which I interviewed Greg.
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Greg in the San Francisco chocolate factory; we actually caught up at their first Japan location, in Tokyo after the Craft Chocolate Market.
Topics We Cover
- The history of Greg, as well as how he got started in the artisan chocolate business
- People with distinctive personalities are often attracted to work in the exquisite chocolate sector.
- The interplay of power and influence in cocoa production
- Greg’s involvement in procuring cacao and other ingredients for Dandelion, as well as his increasing degree of leadership in the company
- “Origin chasing” vs the conversation that huge chocolate firms have about cocoa
- The influence that Madagascar and Bertil Akesson have had on the handmade chocolate business
- The source reports for Dandelion, including who, why, and how
- The changing perceptions of consumers, as well as the new responsibilities and opportunities for chocolate manufacturers
- The nuanced technique that was necessary in order to go across the globe without upsetting (a significant number of) individuals