Cocoa is extracted from the cacao bean “Theobroma cacao L”. The bean originates from South America but has over time come to be grown along the entire equator. Today, about 70% of cacao is grown in West Africa, where Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the two largest producers. Cacao and chocolate’s climate impact and ecological problems include widespread rainforest devastation, eutrophication and poisoned soils and watercourses due to pesticides. For a more conscious consumption of cocoa and chocolate one can, among other things, buy organic and fair trade products.
- There are also some social problems in the cocoa industry, including slave labor, child labor and trafficking to name a few.
- The problems are due to the fact that the industry does not want to pay enough for cocoa and in the long run because we consumers still continue to buy their products.
- Even though fair labels are a step in the right direction, in practice they do not constitute more than a short-term solution.
- It is important to carefully read about which company is behind a product.
- Today, manufacturers like to profile themselves as socially responsible, and products that at first glance appear to be sustainable can in fact be manufactured by the inferior players in the industry.
- Something that most consumers are not actually aware of is that today there are plenty of alternatives to industrial chocolate. That means chocolate made by independent manufacturers, often on a small scale and with a stronger focus on quality, durability and transparency. This type of chocolate is referred to in English as craft chocolate or bean to bar chocolate. Which means that it is made directly from cacao beans (and not from cocoa mass).
- Today, there are about 400 independent chocolate manufacturers and the number is growing every year. The price is a bit higher as they pay significantly more for cocoa but have an easier time guaranteeing good quality and acceptable social conditions.
- The Cocoa Barometer is a good and independent source of information about the cocoa industry, where reports are produced every two years by a group of organizations led by the Voice Network. They also publish smaller, advisory documents focusing on different parts of the industry.
Advice for a conscious consumption of cocoa and chocolate
- Buy organic and fair trade cocoa and chocolate.
- Look for third-party certifications.
- Buy cocoa and chocolate from smaller companies that work on a smaller scale and more sustainably.
- Consume less chocolate – but of better quality!
Page updated 2021.