Community-owned, Fairtrade chocolate company Divine Chocolate launched its products on the UK market in the 90s, with an aim of improving the lives of Ghana’s cocoa farmers while providing high quality chocolate bars.
The company dates back to 1993, during the liberalisation of the cocoa market, when a group of farmers from Ghana set up Kuapa Kokoo, the “good cocoa growers” co-operative, which focused on the needs of local communities.
Farmers started to grow and trade their own cocoa and were helped by charities such as Twin Trading, Oikocredit, Christian Aid and Comic Relief.
“Kuapa strives to ensure that all its activities are transparent, accountable and democratic. It doesn’t cheat the farmers by using inaccurate weighing scales, as other buying agents often do, and because it operates so efficiently, it can pass on the savings to its members”, the company states on its website.
Divine Chocolate was established in 1998 and its shares were owned by farmers, charities and the Body Shop. It launched the first ever fairtrade chocolate bar on the UK market aimed to mass consume. Its range of products is now available across Europe, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. Divine undoubtedly paved the way for other chocolate manufacturers to become more sensitive to fairtrade practices.
Members of the farmers’ co-operative have grown through the years, with 65,000 members at the moment. They have worked to improve farming practices, water and sanitation management and they also started to contrast child labour and address challenges posed by climate change trough environmental initiatives.
During the Kuapa Kokoo annual general meeting, farmers from various regions gather to discuss how the organisation can improve, how to spend money and what are priorities and challenges. In fact, Divine Chocolate is the only Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45% owned by the farmers.