Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Why Your Chocolate Choices Matter

By Errol Schweizer, September 21, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Errol Schweizer


I’m on the road at the Natural Products Expo this week in Baltimore and I’m enjoying the cooler temperatures. Since I live in Texas, for me, cooler temps means I can carry a bar of chocolate in my backpack without fear of it melting all over my laptop. One of my personal faves is Equal Exchange’s 65% Dark Chocolate bar, a smooth yet intense treat made with fair trade beans grown by an Ecuadorian co-op. I really enjoyed a couple of squares on the plane yesterday and it was the pick-me-up I needed so I could catch up on my work.

This mid-air snack over spreadsheets got me thinking about some other numbers my team recently shared with me: the fair trade chocolate category in grocery at Whole Foods Market alone has grown by more than 350 percent over the last five years! That’s a huge indicator that our shoppers are really making a positive impact on the lives of cocoa growers in developing countries. Any time you (and I) happily snack on a chocolate bar from brands like Equal Exchange, Theo Chocolate, Divine Chocolate, Alter Eco or many others, we can be sure that somewhere on that farm, the person who picked, carried and packed those pods of Theobroma Cacao, is directly benefitting from our purchase.

I love seeing our work come to life in our stores’ chocolate aisles. Over the years our team members have spent many hours chatting with our customers about delicious new chocolate products, our vendors’ stories and the importance of choosing fair trade and I’m proud to say    it’s paying off. The hundreds of fair trade chocolate bars on our shelves (and, really, in the hands of our customers) make a huge difference by empowering thousands of growers who live in some of the poorest and most remote areas of the world.

Over the past few years, our national grocery team has only brought in new chocolate bars from ethical sources. We have encouraged dozens of our chocolate brands to obtain Fair Trade Certification, which guarantees a higher price to grower communities. But we’re not done. We are committed to expanding our choices by continuously evaluating our supplier partners’ high-quality product offerings as well as their social accountability, environmental and fair labor practices.

At Whole Foods Market®, our sixth core value is to create ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers. I can think of no better way to honor this value than by having a few more squares of my delicious fair trade chocolate bar. Here’s to the shoppers, supplier partners and team members at Whole Foods Market who are working together to improve the lives of those who bring us the world’s best chocolate bars.

What’s your favorite fair trade chocolate and why is fair trade important to you? Let me know in the comments below.


Category: Grocery, Food Issues




Pam Irvin says ...
Hi, I am happy to read about this fair trade effort, and hope HF soon will have ONLY ethically harvested chocolate in your stores. My favorite? Equal Exchange Very Dark Chocolate! If the cocoa is not fair-trade, I don't buy the product. I am raising my children to be the same. They won't touch slave-harvested cocoa products. "The Dark Side of Chocolate" really impressed them and hurt their hearts for those kids!
09/21/2012 5:24:27 PM CDT
Bee Grandison says ...
Fair Trade is important to me as I am well aware of oppresive work conditions and lives of those that produce our clothing and foods. The least we can do is buy fair trade and spread the word.
09/21/2012 11:17:04 PM CDT
gjrhine says ...
What you still need is chocolate sweetened with other than sugar. Gary
09/22/2012 3:46:41 PM CDT
Alesha says ...
Theo...Orange Dark Chocolate. Sooo delicious.
09/22/2012 9:49:53 PM CDT
Gen says ...
Try Cloud 9 Raw Chocolate!! They are a Baltimore based company that produces raw vegan fudge, amazing stuff! www.cloud9rawchocolate.com
09/24/2012 12:37:04 PM CDT
Linda Jitmoud says ...
I buy my fair trade chocolate from chocoley.com. They're just about the only ones who can promise organic chocolate that was not "processed in a factory that also processes nuts," etc. I wish Whole Foods would expand its selection to chocolate that is guaranteed to be completely nut-free.
09/24/2012 3:15:19 PM CDT
Rachael says ...
"Since I live in Texas, for me, cooler temps means I can carry a bar of chocolate in my backpack without fear of it melting all over my laptop." Spot on. My favorite fair trade chocolate is Equal Exchange's Dark Chocolate Espresso Bean. Yum.
09/24/2012 3:31:20 PM CDT
Desiree says ...
While Equal Exchange & Theo both make excellent chocolates and I like several from both companies, my body and ethics would be happier to see some dairy-free chocolates added to your selection. There are some wonderful choices now.
09/25/2012 9:08:44 PM CDT
Aaron says ...
We do stock chocolate made with stevia instead of sugar! Look for Lily's, it comes in a couple of tasty varieties. And for nut-free (actually, they're free of the 8 most common allergens!) look for Enjoy Life products. They're made in a dedicated allergen-free facility.
09/28/2012 9:59:17 AM CDT
Dina says ...
Hello, I love your wholefoods brand 365 vegan chocolate chips. I would like to know more about the ingredients, particularly the source of the chocolate and the soy lecithin used to make the chips. Can you tell me if the soy lecithin is GMO and if the chocolate is fair trade? Thank you!
11/01/2012 5:58:24 PM CDT
Jan Magnuson says ...
Thank you so much for offering Fair Trade chocolate! Not only is it delicious and great for the farmers, but it also lets us, the buyer, know that no slave/child labor was used is harvesting the cocoa beans!
02/03/2013 1:06:46 AM CST
sara says ...
i wish it was easier to find a list of the brands that you carry - especially for chocolate :)
02/26/2013 10:02:24 AM CST
Avid Fly Fisherman says ...
My daughter is very excited about Easter. Not so much for the religous content, but the at found in the aster Basket. This year, her request came with a twist - "Fair Trade" chocolate. I've been on the web searching for a solution and find the information misleading. I trust Whole Foods and looking forward to making my daughter happy with fair trade chocolate products from your store. The last remaining question is,"Do you have peanut butter cups?" Thank you for supporting Fair Trade!
03/10/2013 11:53:07 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@AVID - Our products vary between store locations so I would encourage you to reach out to your local store to see if they carry the peanut butter cups. Most stores should have an option but the store can let you know if they are Fair Trade.
03/10/2013 2:46:29 PM CDT
Sandy says ...
I am concerned about the product you are selling that contain palm oil. This season I am looking for alternatives to the use of palm oil which is destroying rainforest and the animal it calls home. Whole foods still continues to sell products made with palm oil. Can you please stop and give me another choice for when I go to purchase chocolate this Easter?
03/28/2013 3:24:03 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@SANDY - Thanks for your feedback. Our product developers have always included sustainability as one of the many criteria they use to evaluate and develop 365 Everyday Value and Whole Foods Market brand products. In our 365 Everyday Value and Whole Foods Market brand products we only use palm oil from sources that have been certified as sustainable by the Institute for Marketecology (IMO). IMO is a highly regarded international certification agency and our partnership with them adds an extra layer of assurance that the palm oil in our products is responsibly and sustainably sourced.
04/02/2013 10:21:19 AM CDT
Douglas Dennis says ...
Are all of the 365 Everyday Value chocolates certified as "Fair Trade" products? My main concern is the slave labor that is used in the cocoa bean production. Thank you!
10/21/2013 12:17:58 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DOUGLAS - All of our 365 bars are Fair Trade through Whole Trade Guarantee program. Most of our Whole Foods brand chocolate bars are also guaranteed Fair Trade by WTG as well.
10/28/2013 3:11:51 PM CDT
dael says ...
Disappointed to see 365 organic vegan chocolate chip were discontinued and replaced by non- organic. What's the deal? We have been buying this as a staple and once again the rug has been pulled out from under our feet.
11/10/2013 8:53:47 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@DAEL - I double checked with our private label team and the vegan chocolate chips were not organic. The only difference in the new chips is that the vendor changed facilities and the they can no longer be labeled as vegan because the equipment is shared with other products that contain dairy products.
11/11/2013 3:11:50 PM CST
Laurie Ainge says ...
disappointed to see 365 vegan choc. chips discontinued. is there going to be a 365 vegan choc chip in our future?
02/04/2014 11:38:23 AM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LAURIE - The facility that makes these was moved so the ingredient list still does not contain any animal ingredients as before, however, the equipment used is shared with other dairy items. We cannot list them as vegan any longer due to the shared equipment.
02/04/2014 4:35:09 PM CST
KK says ...
I was disappointed to see you no longer carry 365 brand organic chocolate chips. Why not?
03/25/2014 1:36:05 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KK - Our chocolate chip vendor switched manufacturing facilities recently so it delayed part of the production. They should be back on the shelf soon!
04/01/2014 12:58:24 PM CDT
Gale Mix says ...
I bought a Fair Trade Divine 70 percent Dark Chocolate with Raspberries bar when I was visiting the Charlotte, N. C. Whole Foods Market last month. Not knowing how much I would enjoy it I only bought one. :(. I figured that I would be able to find it in my local Danbury, Ct Whole Foods Store. Sadly enough I was unable to find it on the shelves there. Is this something that Danbury will be stocking or is it only available in some stores?? Hope that I will be able to find it in the Danbury, Ct store soon.
04/18/2014 1:15:55 PM CDT