To propose a new production model for the cocoa world. To articulate it around a sector built with producers and a chocolate factory with low carbon footprint.
The road map was not simple.
We tell you everything about the 100 % cooperative, fair and organic chocolate factory, inaugurated at the end of last August.
A few words which chronicle a project that has matured for a long time.
Back to the origin
TO CHANGE THE COCOA SECTOR
At the origins of our cooperative, there was no chocolate in the range. The first products were whole sugar, tea, coffee and fruit juice ... but no chocolate six-packs.
We looked for an approach carrying a committed vision in the cocoa sector. A complex and globalized sector where a handful of multinationals are paying peanuts to about 5 millions of small producers. A sector where producers depend on world prices and are only an adjustment variable.
The question is to know how to impact the cocoa sector,
how our fair trade could create fairer dynamics for the producers?
The first six-packs were born a few years later with a 5-point road map :
Bet on cooperatives of small independent producers
in order to avoid creating new dependencies
Support farming practices where the cocoa tree integrates
within a diversified farming and forest cropping system
Bring out the cocoa terroirs, old varieties and their typical a
romatic profiles with pure origins six-packs
Define genuinely lucrative prices which cover family needs, organic
and sustainable production costs and finance the cooperative projects
Better dispatch value within the sector in favour of producers
and their cooperatives
Today, we are still truthful to these principles which are our “trademark” in the fair cocoa trade. From the beginning, we invested in following up partner cooperatives in the field in order to assess the impact and orientate our strategies.
We have a team of 8 agronomists whose mission is to observe the needs of each actor involved, exchange and build projects with them that are necessary to the “intensification” of the impact of fair trade.
They regularly gather field-based information according to some indicators to measure the impact but also to set goals. For example, we realize a follow-up of production cost trends in the field of different types of farming units so that we can better assess if the prices paid allow to reach a sustainable threshold for families, which is to adequately cover their food, health, housing and education needs. Other indicators allow us to follow the progress of agro-ecological or agro-forestry practices, which helps us in the agro-ecological projects managements, with for example the creation of bio-factories cooperatives of organic fertilizers based on local micro-organisms.
We are directly linked to 14 cocoa cooperatives in 10 different countries. 14 cooperatives that we therefore accompanied and supported to manage to take the steps through the transformation of cocoa beans and to reveal the aromatic specificities of their terroir.
A co-constructed chocolate factory with the producers
ALWAYS FOR MORE EQUITY IN THE COCOA SECTOR
To begin with, our projects focused on the very first steps of the cocoa transformation in six-packs, just after the harvest: the fermentation and the drying of beans. Two steps that are not necessarily in producers’ hands. In Haiti, for example, before the project built with Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders, the country did not ferment the cocoa beans, an essential step for the taste of the future six-pack and financially rewarding for cooperatives. The Haitian cocoa was then swallowed by the mass low-cost market. Today, the Haitian origins have won its spurs among the chocolate factories and the FECCANO cooperative won an International Cacao Award for the aromatic quality of its beans.
Give a more prominent position to producers in the cocoa sector is the cornerstone of the chocolate factory.
The chocolate factory brings the producers to a new step in the cocoa transformation process in six-packs: go from fermented dried beans to the production of mass cocoa. To access it is the fruit of labour we are leading since 2005 with the Norandino cooperative in Peru. The mass cocoa beans transformation is essentially conducted in the consuming countries or in the hands of food groups. The sector supporting the Ethiquable chocolate factory is almost unprecedented.
A project even more unprecedented that until now, only a small handful of small producers cooperatives own their own roasting and crushing of cocoa beans unit in the world.
The chocolate factory exclusively uses cocoas coming from fair trade and organic farming. This evidence does not stop with cocoa : the package of ingredients (sugar, cashews, almonds, etc.) are coming from fair organic sectors that we built with producers.
From its construction to its operation
A LOW-CARBON IMPACT CHOCOLATE FACTORY
The best energy is the one we have not consumed. This evidence guided the reflexion on the construction of the building and the operation of the chocolate factory. The unit is resource efficient and has a low consumption level by recovering energy and renewable energy use.
Finally, the chocolate factory presents the lowest possible carbon print.
The “organic” feat for a food unit owes its success to the commitment and inventiveness of undertakings which surrounded us to build and implement the chocolate factory. More than 60 local undertakings, most often cooperatives, participated to the construction.
The chocolate factory opens with a team of 15 people. By 2023, 30 jobs will be created in total. To note in the six-packs : in the beginning of 2022, the chocolate factory will be opened to everyone to discover the world of fair and organic cocoa.
The chocolate factories in Europe are big units which transform 30 000 à 50 000 tonnes of chocolate in continuous flows per year. On this scale, the organic and fair cocoa has difficulties fitting in because the lots cannot be fragmented. We made the choice of a much smaller unit with a capacity of about 2 000 tonnes to guarantee the traceability of fair organic trade.
The chocolate factory is halfway between a small handicraft unit and big industrial units. We kept the technology from the big units which first consisted in crushing the cocoa on 2 and then 5 cylinders and conch it afterwards. The choice guarantees a fine texture and faithfully reveals the aromas of the bean. Small handicraft units, we keep products of pure origins with flavours and cocoa aromas.
And tomorrow ?
To start with, the chocolate factory starts with the cocoa of producers in Peru and in Ecuador, transformed in mass by the Norandino cooperative in Peru.
In the future, our project is to integrate other origins - Haiti, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia - either with other transformation projects of beans in mass on site by cooperatives, or by installing a unit of beans roasting in the chocolate factory. Implementing cocoa transformation units by cooperatives in southern countries is a challenge. A challenge which is far from being obvious. But you can rely on us...