Organic chocolate taps growing ethical consumerism

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fair trade

A US firm has launched an organic fair trade chocolate range
designed to tap the growing demand for environmentally conscious
food.

The products, from The San Francisco Chocolate Factory, are claimed to be 100 per cent organic and fair trade certified.

The company used this year's Natural Products ExpoWest in Anaheim, California to launch the range entitled Gaia.

"Our customers were looking for us to develop a unique organic chocolate line,"​ said general manager Robert Kopf. "We felt very strongly that it was important to incorporate the principles of fair trade into this new product.

"We are very proud and happy to have been able to bring a socially responsible product to market that not only meets our high quality standards but also supports a better life for the families and communities most directly affected by the cocoa business."

Indeed, the new range reflects a growing trend within the confectionery market. Top of the range confectionery is becoming increasingly important as margins are tightened elsewhere.

For example more than three quarters of respondents to a recent Mintel survey said they were given premium chocolate for the Christmas or Valentines holidays last year and two thirds of products bought in the holiday seasons were from gourmet stores.

Tailoring premium, organic, natural and fair trade chocolate into seasonal gifts could therefore be the most effective way to offset an estimated 13 per cent decline in holiday season chocolate sales until 2009. Consumers are becoming more ethically minded. In the UK for example, a recent YouGov survey commissioned by Marks & Spencer found that 78 per cent of consumers claimed they would like to know more about the way goods are made including the conditions in the factories where they come from.

Some 59 per cent said they already purchase Fairtrade products and 18 per cent said they would buy Fairtrade items if they were more widely available on the high street.

Kopf said that customer reception at ExpoWest was positive. According to him, the recurring comment was about the innovative presentation of the chocolate itself.

Indeed, he claimed that many attendees were impressed by the fact that the confectionery is not in bar form. The San Francisco Chocolate Factory has consistently attempted to achieve product differentiation by developing products in bite-sized discs, instead of entire bars of chocolate.

The product is available in three choices: milk chocolate, dark chocolate and dark chocolate espresso. In addition, each box is 100 per cent recyclable, with a minimum of 65 per cent post-consumer content, with all printing in soy-based inks.

The Fair Trade Certification ensures that the cacao farmers who provide the raw product necessary for manufacturing chocolate are being given "a better life through fair prices, direct trade, community development and environmental stewardship."

The San Francisco Chocolate Factory has consistently targeted the gourmet section of the market since its inception in 1999. The company is best known for its line of Wine Lover's Chocolates, presented in distinct, signature tins.

Related topics: Chocolate, Processing & Packaging

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