CHOCOLATE PROVENANCE & LABELLING CLAIMS
Given that there are now so many different options available to chocolatiers & other buyers of chocolate, we thought it would be appropriate to try to list the options and hopefully ‘de-mystify' this issue.
So let's give it a go……!
The organic movement has been developed to recognise and identify clear standards for the production of natural foods, taking account of sustainability, animal welfare, etc.
All the major European Chocolate manufacturers now produce Organic chocolate in various forms, although these can be limited depending on demand (eg Chunks & White). All Organic products are made from Ingredients that are Certified by an Organic Certification body, and anyone selling products as Organic needs to be Organically certified themselves. This certification process is annually renewable through the audit of processes, product segregation/integrity and paperwork to ensure the public can be confident that the Organic products are genuine, and not just a label claim.
The worldwide Organic Standards body is IFOAM, and certification bodies (see www.defra.gov.uk/farm/organic/standards/certbodies/approved.htm) have to be members of IFOAM in order to operate. We ourselves are certified by Organic Farmers & Growers – OF&G, who have practical experience and understanding of the manufacturing process. HBI Certificate UKP0272 .
OF&G Certification currently comes at an annual cost of £500+VAT for an Organic turnover of less than £100k pa.
Some customers who don't feel they want to go the whole hog can claim their end product is made with some Organic ingredients'
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
The FT movement has been growing rapidly over the past few years and rather like the Organic situation, customers need to register to use the Fair Trade logo. The UK body is the Fairtrade Foundation at www.fairtrade.org.uk/ , and Certification is carried out by FLO-CERT in Germany . Annual registration is Euro500 and then a ‘Royalty' payment of c.0.45% of FOB value is levied on all sales of FLO Certified products at each stage. The audit trail from producer to end consumer has to be watertight, so we can freely supply anyone that has a FLO-ID (ours is FLO-CERT ID 18814). Rachel Sharpley at the Fairtrade Foundation is extremely helpful, so feel free to contact her at Rachel.email@example.com
Again, some customers who don't want to use the logo can make the generic claim that some ingredients are ‘fairly traded'. This is sensible for people that are concerned about ‘Food Miles' in that FT is focussed on supporting the developing world, but for some people it does not make sense to bring FT sugar from the other side of the world when it can be sourced ‘locally' from UK farmers. The Sipal range of Organic Cereal Syrups is made from EU grown crops – to be Fairtrade they would also need to bring in Rice etc from a developing country rather than from Italy - and as a policy they prefer to minimise food kilometres!
FAIR TRADE ORGANIC
We can now also offer some types of chocolate that meet both the above requirements.
RAIN FOREST ALLIANCE
The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour.
We can now offer a 64% bitter and a Milk chocolate from Belcolade. These are Rainforest Alliance certified being from Costa Rica . Anyone can simply register with www.rainforest-alliance.org and you can then use the logo when putting a ‘made with…' claim on your finished chocolates.
We are now able to offer a vast range of well over 20 different origin chocolates. By this it means that the chocolate is made from cocoa beans from a specific area or country and, unlike standard references which are blends to achieve a standard profile year on year, the flavour profile can and will change over time depending on climatic conditions in the growing country. Generally the beans are shipped to the EU and are processed by the chocolate refiner with EU ingredients (sugar, milk powder etc) to make the final Origin Chocolate. True origin chocolate is available from Chocolate El Rey, and is processed in Venezuela using local sugar and milk powder.
The marketing cache of Origin chocolate is following the example of the wine industry and now actual ‘Estate' chocolate is becoming available from some sources. Chocolate aficionados and self proclaimed experts (some of whom talk complete rubbish) wax lyrical about the different flavour profiles, as Jilly Goolden does about wine.
Certainly there are sometimes significant flavour differences between origin beans, and Barry-Callebaut now offer their Or Noir project, whereby the customer can go along and actually make up their dedicated recipe of chocolate using blends of different types of origin cocoa mass which will remain unique to them. Look at www.cacao-barry.com/en/38 but in the first instance contact us firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set everything up including storing your unique chocolate against your call off.
The resulting aspect of this is that there is a huge marketing opportunity for chocolatiers and others to use Origins in combinations, like a Madagascar chocolate and Vanilla ice cream, Mexican chocolate with Chilli, or even Brazilian chocolate with Brazil nuts! Also ring the changes with an ‘Origin of the month' idea…..
Chocolate is a broad church and despite what certain ‘experts' will say, the human diversity of taste and preference is reflected in the vast range of chocolate types available in the market from grainy Hershey-type product through Extra Bitter, Plain, Milk & White (with many different nuances and variations) to the most highly acclaimed Swiss Claire from Carma, recently voted ‘World's Best Milk Chocolate' [and we have this in stock!].
Thankfully taste is subjective - there are no rights and wrongs , so be guided by your customers' feedback and where you feel that any moral or ethical path is right for you and your business. We hope the above ‘Cooks Tour' has helped!
Tony Mycock 31.3.08