Green America’s chocolate scorecard included a few new, fair trade chocolate brands that are leaders in their field and earning A-ratings. The scorecard is still heavily based on efforts to combat child labor, but we’ve added a new category on deforestation, one of the many issues facing the cocoa industry.
Direct and fair trade chocolate companies have been placing farmers front and center of their business models for years. In this article, we highlight some A-rated chocolate companies.
Vegan options are available from all the companies in our list.
Direct and Fair Trade Chocolate Companies
All of Alter Eco’s products are made with ingredients sourced directly from small-scale farms it partners with. In addition to having Fair Trade Certified cocoa and paying farmer co-ops a premium for their cocoa, Alter Eco also provides targeted assistance to its cocoa farmers. This assistance addresses issues that farmers and their co-ops may face, such as food assistance, gender equality, and biodiversity.
Beyond Good's cocoa beans come from Madagascar (and soon Uganda), and their chocolate is organic. Beyond Good has a radically different supply chain when compared to big name chocolate companies - they cut out the middlemen so Beyond Good has a direct relationship with cocoa farmers. This has resulted in farmers making 6X more than the industry standard. In addition to prioritizing cocoa farmers, Beyond Good is prioritizing the environment; their agroforestry practices have led to 5 species of endangered lemurs living where their cocoa is grown!
Like many other companies on this list, Divine Chocolate has a direct relationship with the cocoa co-op it sources from, Kuapa Kokoo. But Divine and Kuapa Kokoo don’t just have a direct relationship – Kuapa Kokoo owns 20% of Divine Chocolate. Kuapa Kokoo farmers also have seats on Divine’s Board of Directors. Farmer representation is key to improving farmer livelihood, and Divine’s business model allows Kuapa Kokoo, which has over 80,000 farmer members, to have a voice in key business decisions. Divine Chocolate is certified Green Business Member.
Dr. Bronner’s cocoa beans are sourced from Ghana, from farmers that are treated fairly and practice regenerative organic agriculture. Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Chocolate bars are 70% cocoa, vegan, and sweetened with coconut-sugar. The chocolate bars are USDA Organic and Fair for Life certified. You can learn more about Dr. Bronner’s path to regenerative cocoa here.
Endangered Species is the first American-made chocolate to use fully traceable cocoa sourced from West Africa. This means that, in addition to paying higher prices for cocoa and paying a premium that can be invested in community projects, Endangered Species can track their beans to the very farms they source from. This increased transparency is welcome, as the cocoa supply chain in West Africa can be long and opaque. Endangered Species is certified Green Business Member.
Equal Exchange is one of the pioneers of the fair trade chocolate movement, and to this day is so dedicated to worker co-ops that the company itself is worker owned too. Equal Exchange continues to adhere to the fair trade movement in the strictest sense, and has direct relationships with over 40 small farming co-ops. Equal Exchange is certified Green Business Member.
Where to buy: Select Whole Foods, Walmarts, and Targets. But we would encourage you to look for Equal Exchange products in your locally owner grocers and organic markets. Equal Exchange also has a robust, easy-to-use online store.
Support small-farmer coops with their Solidarity Box here!
Theo has direct relationships with cocoa cooperatives in Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It negotiates prices with farmer co-ops directly, provides training on good agricultural practices, and is transparent with farmers about pricing and payments. Theo also works with the different cocoa communities it sources from to develop meaningful projects tailored to their needs. Theo is certified Green Business Member.
Tony’s Chocolonely is a Dutch brand, aiming to show the big chocolate brands that sustainable chocolate is possible. Tony’s chocolate is 100% fair trade certified and they pay an even higher price to cocoa farmers then required by fair trade’s standards. Tony’s entire cocoa supply is from West Africa; this is because they are trying to create change where it is needed the most.
This is, of course, not a complete list of alternative chocolate companies that are helping farmers on the ground – we are at a time where ethical chocolate alternatives are gaining larger footholds in the marketplace. For further reading, check out our Chocolate Company Scorecard.