Sustainability

Divine export success for UK ethical chocolatier

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sarah Ayipahand  and Esi Konadu_Gyeduakese, cocoa farmers from Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana. Pic: Elizabeth Hudson
Sarah Ayipahand and Esi Konadu_Gyeduakese, cocoa farmers from Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana. Pic: Elizabeth Hudson

Related tags: Ghana, Cocoa, Fairtrade, Divine chocolate

London-based Divine Chocolate is leading the way in the field of ethical and sustainable chocolate as Ghanaian cocoa farmer cooperative plays a key part in UK’s international exporting success with the United States being its biggest market.

Divine Chocolate, which is 44% owned by a Ghanaian cocoa farmer cooperative, with its HQ in London has been recognized by the UK government’s Department for International Trade for its export success, particularly to the United States.

Government figures reveal the UK exported £17.3m ($21.6m) worth of chocolate to the United States in 2018.

Liam Fox MP, secretary of state for international trade said: “It is exciting to see a UK company like Divine Chocolate, which was involved in our Britain is GREAT campaign, not only finding success in overseas market but also ensuring that these hard-working cocoa farmers get the remuneration and industry recognition that they deserve​.

This is an excellent example of how important international trade is for empowering producers in emerging economies to increase prosperity and wealth​.”

Fairtrade premium

Divine chocolate was created in 1997 when a group of cocoa farmers in Ghana voted to set up their own chocolate company and today, Kuapa Kokoo – a cooperative of 100,000 Ghanaian cocoa farmers, benefit from a Fairtrade premium on bean sales, as well as a 44% share of the company’s distributable profits.

The business currently exports to over 10 countries worldwide including the United States, Canada, South Korea and Australia.

Due to an increase in global demand, the business now has 35 employees across the UK, the United States and Sweden, with an annual turnover of £15m ($18.8m).

The United States is Divine Chocolate’s biggest export market outside of Europe, and the company now plans to break into China and Thailand.

Divine Chocolate’s ethical business model provides farmers with greater economic stability and influence in the cocoa industry. It also plays a key part in the company’s exporting success, as it has grown in overseas markets where the Fairtrade movement is prevalent.

Ethical story

Sophi Tranchell, group CEO of Divine Chocolate, said: “We knew from the UK market – where our initial audience and supporters were primarily Fairtrade supporters, that consumers were very proactive in spreading the message about Fairtrade products, and our chocolate was a favourite way to tell the Fairtrade story. Therefore, it made sense to grow into markets where our chocolate would be loved, and our ethical story would be appreciated​.”

The company’s chocolate bars are made from cocoa beans harvested, fermented and dried by the Kuapa Kokoo farmers. All the ingredients that go into the bars after this process, such as the sugar from Malawi, and the vanilla from Madagascar, are Fairtrade and GM-free. The company also has a 100% organic range that has biodegradable packaging.

The UK exported an impressive £713.7m worth of chocolate last year highlighting a global demand for British-made produce. This is a golden opportunity for other UK producers to tap into the demand and explore new international markets, and my international economic department has a network of experts on hand to help navigate the entire exporting process​,” said Fox.

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