This Black Friday, we’re resurrecting our “Chocs for Docs” scheme, which allows you to show your appreciation for frontline workers in the NHS. What’s more, on Sunday we’ll be donating 5% of our sales to this cause.
This is instead of offering “yet another Black Friday offer”. We think that many of the problems in the chocolate world come from the fixation on price and commoditization of mass-produced chocolate. Read on for more information.
Black Friday’s come around again, and companies around the world are flooding our TVs, radios, emails, and letterboxes with discounts and offers trying to convince us to buy things that, quite frankly, we don’t really need. Every year is a race to the bottom with websites competing to bring us the lowest prices possible.
For those of us in the chocolate world, this rings alarm bells. Those of you who have attended one of our virtual tastings will know that cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, earn less than $1 per day (less than half of what they need to make a living for themselves and their families). Hundreds of thousands of small cocoa farmers are caught in the unenviable position of negotiating with the world’s largest chocolate corporations, who are seeking to buy cocoa beans for as little as possible.
Fewer than a dozen large chocolate companies control over 70% of the world’s cocoa purchases. Cocoa futures are traded on exchanges. Chocolate has become a commodity. This is because mass-produced chocolate is all about price and consistent flavour. Most chocolate is valued more as a vector for flavour than for the flavour of the chocolate itself. Mass-produced confectionery achieves its flavour from additives and inclusions, which means cocoa is treated as a commodity. Like sugar or palm oil, it’s judged solely on price. This is devastating for farmers. But it’s not the only option.
Cocoa has more flavour aromas, textural options and taste sensations that almost any other product (come to a tasting to find out more). We want people to experience great chocolate. And the first step is understanding that, just as you can only produce great wine if you start with great grapes, and you can only make great coffee with great coffee beans, the same is true of chocolate: to enjoy and savour the fine flavours that chocolate contains, you need great beans.
Great beans are worth paying more for. Just as fine wine and specialty coffee pay a premium for the finest grapes and beans, craft chocolate is doing the same. Check out these two graphs from Raaka and Original Beans to see how much of a difference they’re making:
So much of the deforestation, child labour, and child slavery that plagues the chocolate industry could be alleviated if farmers could grow and sell fine flavour cocoa beans that command a higher proce. But so long as customers are demanding cheap confectionery, that is never going to happen.
Which is why those of us involved in craft chocolate want to change the conversation. Chocolate – especially craft chocolate, crafted by small-batch makers who care about the quality of their beans and work transparently and directly with cocoa farmers – is worth paying more for. Craft Chocolate is better for you, better for the farmers, and really worth savouring.
That’s why we at Cocoa Runners don’t seek to attract customers with flash sales and headline discounts. We think that those sales devalue a product that has already been devalued to great human and environmental devastation.
So this Black Friday, we’re doing something different. We aren’t offering a site-wide discount, free shipping, buy one get one free, etc. Instead: