As the first organic and Fair Trade chocolate factory in the country, our founding principle is that the finest artisan chocolate in the world can (and should) be produced in an entirely ethical, sustainable fashion. All of our ingredients are carefully screened and 3rd party verified to ensure they meet our standards for social and environmental responsibility.
If you’ve ever tasted a Theo product, we hope you’ll agree that our love for creating artisan confections is evident in each bite. Using cocoa as a base, our chocolatiers are always experimenting to find delicious, unexpected flavors – as well as new takes on old classics. We’re committed to using only the finest quality ingredients that meet the same high standards as our chocolate. The table below provides supplier information and locations for some of our top non-cocoa ingredients.
Each and every one of our cocoa beans is organic, Fair Trade and Fair For Life or Demeter Certified. That means they are grown sustainably in ways that promote biodiversity and positively impact the lives of the farmers we buy from. And by committing to paying significant quality premiums above market price we ensure that we get the best beans available, all the time.
We work with our farmer groups and grower cooperatives throughout the world, to help their businesses grow and succeed. In the field we provide technical assistance and share our knowledge around great chocolate making and the cocoa industry. Our beans come from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru. We are always looking for new interesting beans and cocoa partners that share our commitments to quality, environmental sustainability, and ethical business practices. To learn about our sourcing and our cocoa bean pricing specifications, read on.
We work with our farmer groups and grower cooperatives throughout the world, to help their businesses grow and succeed. In the field we provide quality feedback, market information and guidance around great chocolate making and the cocoa industry. Our goal is to have this directly translate to better harvests with higher quality beans and a better price for farmers. Currently, our current suppliers are Norandino in Peru and Esco Kivu in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are always looking for new interesting beans and cocoa partners that share our commitments to quality, environmental sustainability, and ethical business practices. For more information about the farmers we work with, visit our sourcing map.
We purchase cocoa beans from certified organic and fair trade producer groups comprised of small-holder farmers around the world. Our core principle is that we provide significant price premiums for cocoa beans based on quality. These premiums provide meaningful incentives for producers to improve the quality of their cocoa beans. Paying premium prices for high quality cocoa beans requires full transparency in our entire supply chain, in order to ensure that farmers are benefitting from these premiums and able to invest in their families and communities. All of our farmer coop and export partners must demonstrate full transparency in their business transactions. This enables us to verify what every farmer is paid and influence farmer remuneration through our pricing incentives. Our commitment to the the following three things enable Theo Chocolate to actively raise the bar for our entire industry:
- Significant price premiums for quality cocoa
- Full transparency along the entire supply chain
- Third party verification. This is a revolutionary model for buying cocoa beans.
Simply put, our cocoa purchasing practices promote better quality cocoa beans and improved quality of life for cocoa farmers, now and in the future.
Quality Beans: Great chocolate begins with great cocoa beans. We look all around the world for the highest quality cocoa beans to put into our chocolate. We are invested in making sure our suppliers understand how to grade for quality in the same way we do. When grading cocoa beans we assess both subjective and objective characteristics. Of all the characteristics, flavor is the most important and the hardest to quantify. Every chocolate manufacturer has their own desired bean flavor profile required to produce the chocolate flavor they are trying to achieve. Once beans with the desired flavors have been identified, the objective characteristics can be easily measured. These include bean size, fermentation level and defects. When we process beans that are well fermented, large in size and lack defects, our manufacturing process benefits, and the quality of the chocolate we make improves.
Pricing: Cocoa is a global commodity, purchased and sold internationally on the world market. The market price is determined by a number of factors including supply and demand, political conflict, speculation, etc. Small-holder cocoa farmers have no control over the commodity price and very little leverage with buyers to negotiate pricing for their own crop. This means that in general, cocoa farmers’ income is tied to commodity price fluctuations based on many variables beyond their control. This reduces the incentive to invest time, energy or money into improving cocoa quality.
The Theo Chocolate pricing model is completely un-hinged from the fluctuating cocoa commodities market. The price that Theo pays for cocoa is tied directly to the quality of the beans and the price that our customers are willing to pay for our chocolate. This means that as quality improves, the price farmers receive increases, creating significant financial incentives to make investments to increase quality. All pricing is determined directly between Theo Chocolate and our suppliers, based on quality parameters for each harvest season. Under this model farmers know how much income to expect from their harvest, enabling them to make financial plans for the future. Unlike many chocolate brands, we own and operate our own chocolate factory, which means that we do not have to give up margin to any other manufacturing company – this allows Theo to pay high prices above market and Fair Trade premiums to farmers and remain competitive as a brand. Significant price premiums based on quality provide real incentives for farmers.
Transparency: We embrace the concept of full transparency by sharing our pricing structure publicly. We believe that full transparency is required to earn consumer’s confidence in our business practices and supplier’s confidence in our partnerships. We believe that providing clear and long term pricing to our farmers and letting them know how much they can expect to earn is the right thing to do. Offering a stable price to farmers allows them to plan their future with confidence, and price premiums provide incentive to maintain and improve quality of their cocoa. In the spirit of full transparency, we post our Cocoa Bean Pricing Details and Specifications online, accessible to everyone including consumers, retailers, farmers and exporters. All prices listed are $USD per Metric Ton FOB (Freight On Board) – which means the cocoa is loaded onto a boat – at the port closest to origin, all around the world.
We support our quality driven pricing program with field training for farmer cooperatives, exporters and farmers so that everyone in our supply chain knows how to test for quality, how to properly take cocoa bean samples, and how to improve post-harvest practices to meet our standards.