Divine Chocolate
About Divine Chocolate
Divine Chocolate is a chocolate growing/manufacturing company making connections between Ghana, European countries, and the U.S. Divine Chocolate is a Fair Trade company, but they take the Fair Trade concept a step further. In addition to providing many of the benefits associated with Fair Trade, the farmers of Divine Chocolate own the majority stake in the company and share its profits. 45% of the company is owned by Kuapa Kokoo, a Fair Trade cocoa cooperative in Ghana. In their local language of Twi, "Kuapa Kokoo" means "Good Cocoa Farmers Company". 43% of shares are owned by a London based alternative trading organization called Twin Trading, and then 12% of the company is owned by a Dutch microfinance institution.

The cocoa for Divine chocolate is grown in the southern regions of Ghana by the farmers of Kuapa Kokoo. Once the cocoa beans are mature, they are ready to be harvested. Following this tedious process, the beans are then fermented and dried, two steps vital to achieving the raw material needed to be produced into the chocolate bars we love to eat. Each farmer will harvest and ferment his or her beans and the drying is done on large tables used by the whole village. The beans are then shipped by a Dutch importer to Europe, where the dry, hard cocoa beans are transformed into luxurious chocolate. The manufacturing stages include sorting, cleaning, roasting, winnowing, and several other intricate steps. Then, the bars are wrapped and packaged, and shipped across Europe and the U.S. to be sold to consumers like us.
-Source: From Bean to Bar

I really think this model of trade is worth exploring and expanding upon. The stakeholders used the existing concepts of Fair Trade to create their company, but then expanded on that idea by making the actual farmers own over one-third of the company. If we choose to develop a relationship with coffee farmers and local coffee roasters, this is one way we could model our production/consumption relationship.

Equal Exchange
About Equal Exchange
Our visit to Equal Exchange today was so great! Not only was touring the coffee roasting section of the organization really cool (check out the pictures below!), but we also had the opportunity to ask a lot of different questions. When we asked about limitations in the fair trade model and how Equal Exchange tries to mitigate these limitations (Jenn's question), Ian (a coffee roaster and kind of jack of all trades at Equal Exchange) and I started talking about FLO (read about it here) and other labeling organizations. He talked about how Equal Exchange doesn't think that FLO and similar organizations (like TransFair USA) don't do all that they should do. There's not enough relationship building involved, and---as our research suggested---the labeling organizations really don't do much more than slap a label on a product (typically being sent to large-scale sellers like Walmart or Starbucks). So, Equal Exchange goes far beyond that in the fair trade world. They take the concept of fair trade very seriously--and they stress the importance of really having relationships with their producers. When I addressed Grace's question about what the ultimate goal of fair trade is, Ian said that solidarity with the farmers they're building the relationships with is really what Equal Exchange strives for. A few members of the Equal Exchange team actually travel to all of their coffee partner farms a couple times a year to maintain and foster their relationships. In fact, one of the team members is actually in Uganda at a farm right now!

Next came the harder questions about their impact on the environment and the local side of their organization. Ian admitted that Equal Exchange does talk about their impact on the environment all the time. He basically said that, while they try to think of ways to minimize their carbon footprint during the transportation of the coffee from the producer countries to the U.S., it's just a factor of working with coffee in the U.S. that they've had to come to accept. But they do try and be as un-wasteful as possible. For example, roasting coffee produces a kind of coffee dust (that looks like woodshavings, but it much fluffier). Instead of throwing it all out, they trade it with local farmers who use it as mulch for their products; and instead of trading it for money, they trade it for vegetables! While he also admitted that this makes it hard to be part of the local food movement, he stressed the importance of knowing where our food comes from. Although it may travel long distances, Equal Exchange knows exactly where their coffee comes from and how it was made. He also said that a good amount of their coffee is organic (meaning it's made without any chemicals and such). And, while some of their coffee might not be certified organic, it usually is made very similarly to other organic products (it just doesn't go through the lengthy and expensive process to become certified organic coffee).

We talked about a whole lot more, and Maria, Sig, and Magali can go into much more detail about this in class on Friday!

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