It’s why we make our own chocolate, to ensure that everyone is treated in a way that we can be proud of and that only the highest quality ingredients and processes are used.
This model has some very real impacts on the way we do business.
First, we use third parties to certify that both Theo and everyone we work with is being authentic in our claims. It gives both us and those who love our chocolate peace of mind that each Theo product is helping to create better lives for everyone. Our own facilities are also certified and we get audited each year along with our suppliers. The audit looks at a number of things such as wages, working conditions, and our environmental impact. This is different than companies who may buy fair trade ingredients but don’t verify their own practices through an audit each year.
In addition to third party verifications, some of which monitor our prices, like Fair Trade, we have opted out of the global commodity cocoa market. The commodity market sets the prices of cocoa based upon a number of external factors which have little do with cocoa farmers. It is volatile and leaves farmers guessing about how much money they’ll make year to year. It’s low price also disincentivize farmers from investing in their farms or improving quality because farmers may not capture that value back. With prices that don’t allow farmers to invest in their farms and families, cocoa cannot be sustainable because farmers have no reason to keep growing it. In contrast to this commodity system, Theo has a baseline price which we negotiate directly with our farm partners for meeting our most basic quality specifications. This price is fixed the year before and can be relied on. In addition, we encourage farmers to invest in their farms and in training by paying additional premiums for better quality beans. These premiums are set in advance and give the control back over to the farmers. Offering a stable price to farmers allows them to plan their future with confidence, and price premiums provide an incentive to maintain and improve the quality of their cocoa.
Throughout this process and along our entire supply chain, we are committed to full transparency. We work and trade directly with our suppliers to determine prices and visit all of our cocoa origins each year to make sure we’re understanding their circumstances and challenges as well. You can even check out our pricing guidelines here. Beyond just being transparent with farmers about pricing, we strive for all of the cocoa farmers we do business with to have tasted the chocolate made from their beans. Most farmers who grow cocoa are so disconnected from the process, they don’t know who ultimately makes chocolate from their beans or what it tastes like. We believe that full transparency is required to earn consumer’s confidence in our business practices and supplier’s confidence in our partnerships.
Simply put, our cocoa purchasing practices promote better quality cocoa beans and improved quality of life for cocoa farmers, now and in the future.