Beyond Fairtrade: Pacari

By Cocoa Runners  ·  1st March 2016  ·  Ethics

Pacari Chocolate

As part of our series for Fairtrade Fortnight we are looking at different bars from makers whose commitment to their farmers and suppliers goes above and beyond Fairtrade.

Pacari RawIts classic Raw 70% bar sums up Pacari’s commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices as well as making great chocolate. The bar uses unroasted cacao that has been minimally processed. The focus is on the natural flavours of the cocoa beans. These are sourced from Ecuadorian farmers that Pacari works closely with. Pacari helps to educate the farmers on how to produce the best quality beans and therefore the best tasting chocolate!

Pacari is a family owned bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Ecuador. The company was founded by Santiago Peralta and his wife Carla Barboto in 2002. They wanted to create a business based on socially and environmentally sustainable principles. But more than that, they wanted the company to promote fine flavour Ecuadorian cacao and support farmers and growers.

The couple started by learning about cacao and the steps involved in making a chocolate bar. Ecuador is renowned for its high quality cacao, the ‘Arriba Nacional’ bean. Traditionally this is grown in the upriver basins regions of the Guayas River. The cacao trees in these areas have been growing for hundreds of years. The natural environment and lack of intensive agriculture, means the trees have been able to cross-pollinate freely, increasing the cacao’s diversity and helping disease resistance.

Santiago and Carla sought out the famers and owners of these small plantations. Over time they have established relationships with the people who grow their beans, always going direct to them rather than dealing with middlemen. In doing so they can guarantee that the farmers receive a much higher price for their beans. Farmers are thus better able to support themselves and incentivised for growing the high quality organic cacao that Pacari uses in its bars.

But Pacari’s relationship to its farmers is not just about price. Santiago describes a ‘mutual connection’ between them and the farmers as they work towards a common goal. They help the farmers and their families get the best out of their beans. They educate them on the different staged of the chocolate making process, from growing to harvesting to fermenting and drying. Collectively sharing knowledge is good for everyone: farmers get better yield and Pacari gets better beans and create a solidarity between producer and maker.

PacariSays Santiago Peralta, “Cacao is not just a way to get money. There’s a consciousness that this cacao will be transformed into something yummy called chocolate that will represent the country. They know they carry a responsibility—so this comes out in our chocolate.”

Santiago and Carla also help to provide machinery and drying facilities for farmers who can’t afford it. Santiago realised that many of the farmers were transporting the huge sacks of cocoa beans on their backs, exhausting and hurting themselves in the process. To help he started micro-financing donkeys to the farmer donkeys so his workers knees are spared some of the trials and tribulations of carrying cocoa pods through the jungle.

Pacari is also looking to the future of cacao and trying to get a new generation involved. Says Peralta ” we are working on programs getting new generations in the process of cacao; how can we show young people that the countryside can provide a good living too rather than moving to the city to work with computers.” These initiatives help to preserve the traditional methods of growing cacao and proud Ecuador’s heritage of fine flavour beans.

This tradition is not just a matter of farmer and maker producing great tasting cocoa beans. It’s about creating a product that’s better for the planet and will help to preserve the biodiverse environment where the cacao is grown. Pacari only buy from certified organic farmers not large-scale plantations to help protect the unique and irreplaceable Ecuadorian beans.


Discover Pacari’s Chocolate


Additional material taken from NBC.

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