MIA’s mission is to reset what it claims is an unfair balance in global cocoa production with 70% of the crop grown in Africa, but only 1% of the chocolate made on the continent. By making chocolate from bean-to-bar in Africa, MIA says it creates much more value than the export of raw cocoa beans and supports the creation of skilled jobs locally from chocolate making to printing ... to the service industry – on a continent where a single income can support an entire family.
Following the success of its Madagascan chocolate bars, which are sold in the UK in Whole Foods with distribution deals with other retail companies in 10 other countries, MIA has developed a new product Ghana Gold, using the same bean-to-bar model, which it officially launches at the ISM trade show in Cologne (23 - 25 April 2023).
In our podcast interview, Brett Beach, director and co-founder of MIA, says he can’t wait to be back in Cologne, as part of the UK Pavilion. “I think ISM is an exciting year because it seems like the first full show since Covid where everybody's really ready to come out – and it'll be the official launch of Ghana Gold. I think we are the only company in the world to make finished chocolate in two countries - we started in Madagascar, and we’ll also have that range there as well.”
As well as a successful business producing premium chocolate bars, MIA is also one of the companies at the forefront of efforts pushing for change in the cocoa sector, by basically either paying farmers more for their beans - and in MIA’s case bringing a value-added share of a chocolate bar, by keeping production in the origin country.
Beach says he will also highlight MIA’s new sustainability initiative: the ‘Fairmade’ concept.
“As you know, we issued a call for Fairtrade to consider this model as a standard certification. I will be pushing more behind the scenes, and we plan to make a submission to the FCIA Glossary to help solidify the broader meaning of the term for the industry. I’ll also be coordinating with industry players and will look to issue a group press release in the coming months,” he informs ConfectioneryNews.
“What we want to do is build upon Fairtrade.” He explains that Fairtrade ingredients such as cocoa is an abbreviated version of Fairtrade products - which is they choose single ingredients to certify within a product.
“So what we're asking them to do is go the other way … go a bit further and say, ‘what would a product look like if it's Fairtrade ingredients and it's made in the country to add that really crucial value of the transformation’ … like made in Belgium, France and even now the UK, which is also known for good chocolate and other products as well.
“It's going to start very simply … with companies that have found a good key ingredient paying a fair price and can show that they double the value of that ingredient by making it in the country. That's what I think the base is to start … and I think if we can demonstrate that, Fairtrade can be part of a movement that can actually make such a huge difference for our communities by building on what they already do, then I think it would make a huge difference.”
In its recently issued 2022 impact report, MIA claims that making chocolate in Africa results in three times more value for African communities when compared to the export of cocoa. The report also highlights that the brand’s farmgate cocoa payments are equivalent to 1.9 times the Fairtrade premium.
In our podcast, Beach also talks about the situation on the ground in Madagascar, where certain areas have suffered environmental disasters such as drought and flooding, leading to famine in a country that is one of the poorest in the world.