Producer of the month: Divine Chocolate
Celebrating World Chocolate Day, we thought it was fitting to feature Divine Chocolate - the only chocolate company in the world which is 100% Fairtrade and owned by cocoa farmers.
Divine was founded in Ghana in 1998 with a mission to create a global farmer-owned company and to 'make chocolate cherished and celebrated by everyone.' Once a luxury accessible only to the very wealthy, chocolate has a UK market value of almost £4 billion. 20 years ago, Divine Chocolate took on the global chocolate giants to produce something distinctive and not widely available, standing apart from the large producers with Fairtrade chocolate bars.
Try some of our selection of delicious Divine Chocolate Bars; we have 35g sized bars, perfect for tasting all the wonderful flavours. Our favourites include Caramel, Cappuccino and 70% Dark Chocolate. If your looking for an after dinner sweet then we recommend the Divine Ginger or Mint Thins. Then for a real treat we can't forget the delicious Divine salted caramel hot chocolate its chocolaty and creamy with a salty sweet twist.
Where does fair trade chocolate come from?
Ghana has been a major producer of cocoa since the 19th century, and despite worldwide price crashes in the 1970s and 1980s and droughts that have reduced production, cocoa accounts for 40% of the country's exports. Today 1.6 million people are involved in cocoa production, mostly on small farms. Cocoa trees take four years before they bear fruit, and from thousands of flowers, only about 20 -30 are pollinated and become cocoa pods. These are harvested twice a year by hand because mechanical techniques cause too much damage to the fruit and trees. Seeds are then wrapped in plantain leaves, fermented and dried before they're ready for export. It's a lot of work and is less productive than you might think.
A single cocoa tree produces enough cocoa annually for three large Divine bars. The Kuapa Kokoo (or 'good cocoa') Farmer's Cooperative was established in 1990 to give farmers more control of the internal market, and it has expanded to over 1000 village societies with 85,000 members. Its motto is 'Pa Pa Paa' – which in the local Twi language means 'the best of the best', and indeed its quality is why Ghanaian cocoa can demand a high premium in the global market.
Already involved in fair trade schemes, in 1997, the farmers voted to produce their own chocolate bar that would be marketed alongside major UK brands. Supported by Twin Trading (who also brought us Cafédirect), Christian Aid and Comic Relief, the company launched their Divine chocolate bars in 1998. A further partnership development has since led to launching the brand in the USA. This growth means that the farmers of Kapua Kokoo now produce 5% of Ghana's cocoa.
Dividends and Premiums have been invested in developing farming skills, environmental projects and eradicating child labour. From the outset, the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers' Cooperative owned a significant number of company shares and by 2006 had acquired a 45% stake-hold with, notably, places on the Board of Directors. Such is its uniqueness that Divine Chocolate has received several awards for social enterprise and is now a well-recognised brand.