The harsh reality of chocolate, the slave trade and what we are doing to be different.
The term 'guilty pleasure' has a light-hearted innocence to it; something we can't help indulging in despite the gaze of judgment we might invite. Chocolate is one of the world's most common guilty pleasures, and for good reason, but we aren't convinced that the true reasons for this guilt are as commonly known as they should be.
We hope to educate you on the harsh realities of the chocolate industry and the unique process that we adopt to ensure that there is no need for guilt of any kind when enjoying our chocolate.
The vast majority of chocolate on supermarket shelves and in kitchen cupboards is made from low standard cocoa beans. The cocoa is very rarely traceable back to the farmer, meaning its quality isn't vetted and the legitimacy of its origins are questionable. A lot of these beans are riddled with mould and various other defects, resulting in the product being mixed with unhealthy substitutes such as milk powders, e-numbers and excess sugar to maintain the taste expected from proper cocoa beans.
The reason we mention the origins of cocoa is that slavery and child labour are still rife in the chocolate industry. Being a sought-after commodity, cocoa is mass-produced and bought in huge quantities by large corporations who aim to pay as little as possible. The filtered down effect of this is that those who farm cocoa look to spend as little as possible growing it, meaning that all too often their farms are unregistered and illegitimate. Slavery and child labour are common practices to maintain a profitable revenue - it is estimated that there are currently 2 million children in slave labour in Africa alone.
In addition to the tragic humanitarian circumstances surrounding much of the world's cocoa production, there is also a detrimental environmental effect. Deforestation and pollution are rampant in many cocoa-producing countries and need to be addressed with urgency. The Ivory Coast is the world's largest exporter of cocoa and, in direct relation to this, only has 4% of its rainforest left.
Here at Islands, we refuse to turn a blind eye to the tragedies that too often come hand-in-hand with the production and sale of chocolate, and we've made a conscious effort to produce our chocolate in the purest and most ethical way possible. We are in a unique position as a seed-to-bar company in that we control and monitor every stage of the chocolate process. From the planting of the cacao to the harvesting, fermenting and roasting of the cocoa beans, to the packaging and sale of our bars, buttons and spreads, we can trace each product right back to its origins. Our process makes sure that each bean is healthy and useable, leaving no need for e-numbers or cocoa butter. We also keep a record of each of our farms in the Caribbean and the wonderful locals who we employ, maintaining the fantastic standard that we've all become used to.
While much of the cocoa industry continues to profit from cutting corners and abandoning values and ethics, we at Islands have put in extra effort to make our process pure and traceable so that we can be held accountable. In an industry home to more guilt than pleasure, we are proud to offer our customers a unique, delicious product that can be enjoyed with a clear conscience.