Divine Chocolate delivers highest turnover against Brexit backdrop

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Divine Chocolate Fairtrade cocoa volumes up to 953 tons during 2016 and 2017. Photo: Divine Chocolate
Divine Chocolate Fairtrade cocoa volumes up to 953 tons during 2016 and 2017. Photo: Divine Chocolate
Divine Chocolate has announced revenues of £14m ($20m) during the 2016-2017 period (17% YOY growth), the highest to date, with US sales passing $10m for the first time.

The company’s net profit, however, has decreased to £179,000 ($246,580) by the end of the period (June 20, 2017) from £443,000 ($610,250) a year ago, it said in its annual report.

Sustainable ingredients sourcing

During the year, Divine Chocolate paid £190,000 ($265,383) in fairtrade premiums as well as a £38,000 ($53,077) dividend to the Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ co-operative in Ghana that owns 44% of the chocolate company.

Even though the fairtrade premium paid to farmers increased from £176,000 ($245,773) last year, producer dividend and interest saw a significant decrease from £38,000 ($53,077) due to “exchange rate fluctuations,”​ said Jamie Hartzell, chair of Divine Chocolate’s board.

From the ingredient sourcing side, fairtrade cocoa beans used in Divine Chocolate have increased to 953 tons from 882 tons a year ago, while fairtrade sugar sourcing increased to 313 tons from 307 tons the previous year.

However, both fairtrade almonds and mangoes sourcing have decreased to 5.8 tons and 2.1 tons respectively from 6.1 tons and 2.6 tons a year ago, according to the report.

Hartzell applauded Divine Chocolate’s overall sales growth and said it was achieved “against a backdrop of rising costs” ​in addition to the fluctuating exchange rate.

“Wider economic developments, largely driven by Brexit, presented the UK food industry with significant challenges… [Yet,] Divine has demonstrated its resilience in this volatile economy,”​ he said.

Growth in UK driven by new products

Divine Chocolate said it made “great progress”​ in the UK’s multiple channels including foodservice, c-store and grocery. Its growth in foodservice was the result of many new products stocked in corporate offices and outlets around the country during the year.

“The popularity of our new products such as the Tasting Set, and the Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Salt bar, made a significant contribution to our sales success,”​ said Chris Noel, sales director at Divine Chocolate’s UK headquarters.

The 12-bar Tasting Set, in particular, accounted for half of the company’s growth with Oxfam, the Oxford-headquartered charitable organization that was recently involved with a sex scandal in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Divine Chocolate’s spokesperson Charlotte Borger said the team does not have a response regarding how the company would move forward with its partnership with Oxfam after the scandal, but she promised to keep ConfectioneryNews updated.

Similarly in the US, Divine Chocolate also saw growth in several channels with specialty retailers growing by 29% and the natural channel growing by 20%.

Additionally, exports from Divine UK grew by 4.8% with strong growth in Norway and Japan, and a distributor being appointed in Turkey for the first time.

Divine Chocolate said it would invest 2% of its annual turnover directly in farmer projects focusing on “gender equality, securing land rights, improving farming techniques and organization governance”.

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