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.