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Interview: Tim McCollum from Beyond Good on producing chocolate at origin in Madagascar

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Interview: Tim McCollum from Beyond Good on producing chocolate at origin in Madagascar

Related tags: Madagascar, Cocoa, Sustainability

“The chocolate industry is broken on two levels,” claims Tim McCollum, founder and CEO of Beyond Good chocolate, in CN’s latest podcast with influential players in the cocoa sector.

Bean+Sorter+Face+Paint beyond good
Bean sorting at one of Beyond Good’s production sites. Women in the north of Madagascar traditionally wear face paint made from natural materials as a sort of sunscreen. Pic: Beyond Good

Madécasse began producing chocolate from bean-to-bar in Madagascar in 2008. Last year, it changed its brand name to Beyond Good and also opened a new facility on the island in 2019.

The first problem with the industry, says McCollum, is 98% of chocolate on a grocery store shelf is commodity chocolate.

Commodity chocolate tastes good. It tastes like … chocolate. The problem is that all commodity chocolate, more or less, tastes the same. Simply tasting good isn’t good enough in this category. We wanted a brand name that addressed the nature of our product itself, the commoditization of the category, and the fact that most consumers have been blinded to the beauty of what real chocolate can taste like​.”

The second problem is in the chocolate industry itself, he says: “The global supply chain is broken. 3-4 million cocoa farmers live in perpetual poverty. Big companies don’t know how to fix the problem so they rely on third-party certifications and throw a lot of money at the problem. Throwing money at this problem may make people feel better about this problem. But it will not fix this problem​."

Beyond Good Factory-16
Beyond Good’s 70% Pure Dark chocolate (top) and 92% Pure Dark (bottom) fresh off the production line at its facility on Madagascar. Pic: Beyond Good

McCollum told ConfectioneryNews Beyond Good had achieved “something unique in the industry as a model for how you can do chocolate the right way​.

If you look at these different issues in the industry … whether it's forced labor or endemic poverty or deforestation. There's really no shortage of those problems and we have been very quietly over the last 10 years building our own supply chain from scratch, which is entirely a closed loop meaning all the farmers we work with we've been working exclusively with for 10 years, so it is much easier to trace where all our cocoa comes from​.”

In our podcast, McCollum talks more on sustainability, and other challenges of making chocolate at origin, responding to the coronavirus pandemic – and why he is optimistic that the cocoa sector as whole can become more transparent and eco-friendlier.

Take a listen.

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