I was walking into work today thinking about Islands Chocolate and why it is so unique compared to the other chocolate companies. The main selling point for us as a company is that we are Tree-to-Bar but then it occurred to me, does the average consumer actually know what this term means? Probably not! Well, that isn't a problem because I am going to explain it, right now.
Ok, so let me explain it by comparing Islands Chocolate to other Big chocolate companies out there, I'm not going to name any because I don't want to get in trouble but we all know who they are. When they source their cocoa what normally happens is that they get cocoa from a range of countries for example Ivory Coast, Ghana, Columbia etc. and mix all the beans together - this means the identity of the bean and origin goes down the drain. This is what we call mass market chocolate whereby they use bulk cocoa with no distinct flavour. Cadbury's Dairy Milk or the Mars Galaxy bars are a prime example of mass market chocolate (oops I mentioned their names, oh well).
In other cases, companies will go through a trader. The trader will have the relationship with the Cocoa Company or the producing country. They will take care of logistics and deliver the cocoa to the chocolate company. This is fine but there is another cog in the supply chain which when you are focusing on tracing the bean from origin to factory becomes problematic.
The market however is developing into one that focuses on tracing the bean back to the farm and the farmer. This is where direct trade comes into the picture. The small producers who now call themselves 'Bean to Bar', carefully select their beans by visiting the farms and farmers and work out which beans best suit their range (Every bean has a different flavour profile). The beans are separated out and they create bars of chocolate from the various farmers i.e. they are not mixing the different farms together. This means that their customers are able to taste how different regions create different tasting chocolate.
Now, Tree-to-Bar is one step further and this is where Islands Chocolate is placed, how exclusive! Tree-to-Bar is where the company grows the cocoa and makes the chocolate at origin meaning that it has a whole control of the supply chain. This enables us to plant whatever cocoa varieties we want, to ferment the cocoa to our requirements, to advise our farmers and farm managers on how to best grow cacao in St Vincent, to help improve infrastructure, to help schools around the area and create employment opportunities throughout St Vincent. We want this industry to be 100% sustainable and 100% traceable.
Over the last 50 years there have been major problems in the cocoa & chocolate industry - child labour, deforestation, poverty, climate change, consumer mistrust - the list goes on. Because we are chocolatiers as well as cocoa farmers we can make sure that none of these problems are present in our supply chain.
As I mentioned earlier, I was walking in thinking about the Tree-to-Bar concept. I was also handed a newspaper by Saiid, the loyal City AM distributer, and below is the front page.
The Traceability movement is everywhere. All customers are becoming more aware of where their food has come from and the processes it has gone through to get to the shop. If a huge retailer like M&S is focusing on this then we are surely in a good place.
I wonder how our front page would look;
We can trace ALL our chocolate bars right back to every farm and every cocoa tree. We are the only chocolate company in the WHOLE world who grows cocoa and makes chocolate on the Island of St Vincent, Caribbean.
WE TRACE IT. SO YOU CAN TRUST IT.
Sounds pretty good to me!
I hope this all makes sense. The next blog post will focus on why Islands Chocolate is £6.49 and why an average Lindt bar of chocolate is £3.
Have a good rest of your week!