More or less by chance I came across the sustainable chocolate from fairafric and find the project from the fair production to the diverse offer great. That's why I arranged to meet the fairafric founders for an environmental protection interview and was able to find out a lot about the background, the working and production conditions, the chocolate market and the packaging of fairafric's sustainable chocolate. Enjoy the interview!
What is the story behind fairafric chocolate?
Armed with tent and backpack, our founder Hendrik travels through East Africa in 2013. In Uganda, he meets coffee farmers who make their own coffee directly on the farm. They roast with a pan and grind by hand. After this experience, Hendrik constantly thinks about what a huge difference it would make to produce finished products in Africa instead of just exporting raw materials.
Chocolate fan Hendrik quickly realizes that this also and especially applies to cocoa. In conversations with farmers, he understands that life is brutal for cocoa farmers: some are so poor that they have to decide which of their children can go to school because of the high school fees. While initiatives such as Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance suggest that they are lifting millions out of poverty by paying premiums, the amounts are unfortunately not enough to really improve the situation on the ground in a sustainable way. What would help, Hendrik quickly realizes, is the emergence of an industry and the creation of small and medium-sized jobs.
Determined to follow this path, Hendrik begins to learn everything about chocolate and cocoa farming. After detours via Sierra Leone, Hendrik finally finds the right partners in Ghana, with whom he decides to implement the project. What started as an idea in 2013, is in 2018 a real, albeit small, company that brings the first organic chocolate Made in Africa to Europe.
What are other chocolate manufacturers doing wrong?
Many other, fair, chocolate manufacturers focus only on paying a premium for the cocoa farmers' harvest. While this premium in Ghana is still lower than the one we pay, for example, this also only solidifies structures that have already existed since colonial times. Instead of enabling fair trade on an equal footing with finished products, cocoa-growing countries are seen as suppliers of raw materials. While it is of course undeniable that production in cocoa growing countries can be fraught with obstacles and problems, the example of fairafric shows that it is possible. So it would be desirable if other, larger players in the industry, would also gradually move their production to the Global South.
Why is fairafric sustainable chocolate?
Sustainability is often understood as a triad of economic, social and environmental sustainability. As a social start-up, fairafric has set itself the goal of tackling social problems. In our case, to promote the idea of truly fair trade on an equal footing between countries of the Global South and Global North. We want to give people in Ghana the opportunity to do well-paid work outside of agriculture. While this is our main driving force, we also try to include ecological aspects more and more in our thinking and acting. Together with our cooperative we have implemented a tree planting project and this year we are trying to calculate our ecological impact in order to balance it accordingly.
Who are fairafric partners and what are the production conditions?
Our local partners are the cooperative Yayra Glover and the company Niche Cocoa Industry Ltd.
The Yayra Glover cooperative works closely with its 1400 members to provide training to farmers. At these trainings, they can learn how to increase crop yields and improve the quality of the beans. Because this is a cooperative of organic farmers, we as fairafric are allowed to pay the farmers a premium of 600 US$ per ton of cacao for their beans. This is the highest price in all of Ghana. Some of the money goes directly to the farmers, and some is used to finance the aforementioned trainings. We are also working with Yayra Glover to develop new income opportunities for the farmers. Together, we have started a coconut palm cultivation project to offset the effects of the sometimes highly fluctuating cocoa price.
Niche Cocoa processes cocoa beans into chocolate for fairafric. The company is entirely Ghanaian-owned and offers medium-sized jobs. While the Ghanaian minimum wage is the equivalent of 35 US$ per month, production employees at Niche earn 225 US$. It's a salary that actually grows with seniority. In addition, Niche offers access to health care, a company pension, and paid overtime, among other benefits.
How is the sustainable chocolate packaged?
The sustainable chocolate is packed on site by our packaging machine and shipped to Hamburg by means of refrigerated containers. From our warehouse in Munich, we then distribute the bars to retailers or directly to our chocolate fans.
What are the varieties of sustainable chocolate?
Since October 2017, we have had seven varieties of organic chocolate Made in Africa on the market; three milk varieties and four dark varieties. The varieties differ in their different cocoa content, and there is also a chocolate with South African sea salt and one with extra organic fair cocoa chips.
Where can you get fairafric's sustainable chocolate?
The chocolate is available in a constantly growing network of dealers, consisting of world store and organic specialist retailers. On the fairafric website there are this Storelocatorthat shows which retailer in your area carries fairafric .
In addition, the organic chocolate Made in Africa can also be purchased directly from fairafric on the website - in the online store, all seven varieties are available for purchase in different packages.
I think the sustainable chocolate from fairafric is really good. It is fair and produced in a transparent process in Africa, creates jobs and is also really delicious. We need more projects like this that combine economy, humanity and environmental sustainability.
What is your opinion about the sustainable chocolate? I look forward to your comment under this post.
PS.: In the Environmental protection blog you can read many more interviews and read them in the Plastic free blog you learn all Tips & tricks for plastic-free living know. Have fun!