I'm wondering that what kind of machinery would you need for producing commercial raw chocolate products. I consult one company that brought this question up. I don't have any experiences making massive amounts of commercial chocolate, but what kind of set up would you recommend to order (price range 5000-10.000€). Any thought about subject?
I've already seen the videos - especially the one about raw cocoa fraud and facts.
Here's the link if you haven't: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XEXFBSgkQM
Aside from the fact that you more or less skipped over the pathogen issue (which is more important than a couple of antioxidants, as they don't kill people but pathogens DO), you still didn't answer my first question and that was how you know your cocoa powder is raw? Do you buy it from Big Tree Farms? According to their claims, they are the only producer of cold pressed cocoa butter in the world today.
I'm also curious with regard to what you use the "raw" cocoa powder for? If it's truly raw, it should have almost no chocolate flavour/aroma at all. Conversely, it should be musty, acidic, and have floral/fruity notes. I've personally sampled and made chocolate from beans from all over the world and this I know as a definitive fact. To this regard I'm curious not from a confrontational standpoint, but rather from a culinary courtesy standpoint.
I look forward to your reply.
I've used Big Tree Farms, Saipato Cooperative and SKS Farms "raw" cacao powder. All production facilities have been checked out by the cacao importers which I have personally chatted to.
Raw food is an aesthetic movement. If your worried about raw food don't eat it, I would not especially if I did not trust the processing.
Clearly the flavour of "raw" cacao is entirely natural or from fermentation of the beans. I'd agree its more acidic, and quite fruity. The colour also appears much lighter than roasted.
Mr Ice Blocks
I searched the web for information relating to your "raw suppliers". I am unable to locate a single web item regarding SAIPATO COOP and the data provided by SKS Farms was at best "sparse". Could you give me additional information.
IDK why anyone is selling non fairly traded cocao. My choice of cacao powder is more driven by it being fair trade and organic. I personally am ambivalent to the need for cacao products to be "raw" because fermentation may break the raw "rules" and roasting may be necessary for full flavour development (and pathogen control) IMO
"Fair Trade" is a load of crap, as is the concept of "Organic" certification.
Fair Trade: the price the farmer gets in a certified "Fair Trade" deal is both a floor and a ceiling, doesn't fluctuate with market prices, and and given the number of manhours required to produce a metric ton of cocoa does not create a sustainable working environment for the grower or his workers. In fact it more or less keeps them in abject poverty.
As an ethical chocolate producer, I actually pay 2-2 1/2 times MARKET price to the growers.
Organic: Another load of crap invented to make consumers feel better about their purchases. Truth be told, most farmers can't afford the fertilizers, pesticides, and/or equipment to distribute them! Heck! They can't even really afford to feed their families! For the most part, they harvest what grows on the land they occupy, throw the pods back under the trees to replenish the soil, and that's that. Most cocoa is already organic! It just doesn't have the "stamp" of approval, and.... oh... I forgot to tell you that many farmers are also illiterate and can't fill out all of the bearucratic paperwork necessary to apply for certification!
There are those who talk about chemicals such as lead from gasoline getting into the beans..... Yeah... Right. Like the farmers can afford vehicles....
Anyone who wants to make ETHICAL chocolate will take the time to build a SUSTAINABLE relationship with their suppliers (aka growers), and negotiate prices that work for BOTH parties, such as I do.
Any of you growers out there, please feel free to weigh in here. Oh! Wait! Most of you can't read, write, or afford electricity to operate a computer that you can't afford, which is hooked to an internet connection that doesn't exist because you live in the jungle! Haha!
I know that Jim Lucas is an exception, as he got into the industry with money, but I also believe Jim's internet connection is through satellite.
I guess he's an exception.
I suggest you familiarise yourself with http://www.fairtrade.net/cocoa.html and working examples rather than spout confused contradictory rubbish In an attempt to justify your own position.
See what I mean? There you go, using terms that confuse people, and lead them to believe something inaccurate.
Fairtrade International (FLO) is a different organization (and not as widely recognized) than the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). WFTO is the world recognized and accepted standard for fair trade, used by government bodies including Canada and the United States. Here is a quote directly from the website FAQ's you provided in your link. Note that the organization you refer to differentiates the terms by removing the space between the words fair and trade:
The term Fairtrade is used to describe the certification and labelling system governed by FLO. The Fairtrade system allows consumers to identify goods that have met Fairtrade standards. In the USA and Canada, the national labelling initiatives use the term “Fair Trade Certified” instead of “Fairtrade”.
Now, having said that and reviewed their pricing model, I like what they are promoting moreso than the WFTO as it applies to cocoa. The challenge with the WFTO was that the "Fair Trade" price has always been a floor AND a ceiling. The most the growers could ever get in a fair trade deal was $1750 for their beans. However the FLO pricing model shows that the farmer's price floats with market prices - MUCH more equitable.
There is one thing that everyone fails to take into account, and that is the Market price. Currently three companies consume very close to HALF of the entire world's supply of cocoa beans. Those three companies are Barry Callebaut, Cargill Foods, and ADM Foods. Those three companies control the market price. Period. End of story.
A good example of what I'm talking about has been the price of cocoa in the past year. There has been a lot of talk in the media about the price of cocoa jumping. Has it? Nope. In fact, in July of 2008, when I first started buying cocoa beans, and paying my growers approximately TWICE market prices for them, the market price was around $3,000 per metric ton. Today and for the last year, the market price has hovered around the same. Please see:
While I like what fair trade organizations are trying to do. However, the farmer's challenge is that everything boils down to the almight dollar (costs of food, costs of clothing, costs of shelter, costs of equipment, costs of education, blah blah blah), and if their income is based on a commodity whose price is artificially controlled, they are and always will be at the mercy of those controlling the price. The reality is very simple: If any one of those three company companies stops buying cocoa beans for whatever reason, there will be a HUGE surplus on the market, the economics of supply and demand will take over, and the price will collapse.
In my opinion, in order to be truly effective there needs to be a commodity pricing model adopted by fair trade organizations which are independent of market prices, and more dependent on such things as standards of living, minimum wage, and inflation in each of the producing countries. I believe that THESE factors more accurately represent "sustainability" as it is referred to by both organizations (WFTO & FLO). Until that happens, as far as I'm concerned "Fair Trade" is a bunch of baloney. My research tells me that it takes approximately 3000 manhours to produce one metric ton of cocoa beans, and we all know that the labour to do so isn't easy. If the growers today are getting market prices (BETTER than fair trade or fairtrade), they are still only making a dollar per manhour worked, and that dollar per hour doesn't trickle down to the workers on an "on par" basis. The workers get less.
160 hours per month (they often work WAY more) is the average 8 hour day at $1 per hour doesn't even cover my cell phone bill.
So, in closing, my question to those of you on the Fairtrade, or Fair Trade bandwagons: How fair is $1 per hour? Would YOU work for that?
Fairtrade International http://www.fairtrade.net/ is the main label recognised here and in Europe, and the actual Fairtrade price paid *never* has a ceiling and is *always* above market price by at least $150 / tonne when I last looked. It's not me that's spouting confused "crap".
I also fail to see how you being charged 2 x or 2.5 x market price by a plantation owner represents and "ethical" purchase or helps the *vast* majority of cacao production carried out by subsistence farmers. Looks like a great deal for the plantation owner to me. When did you last certify his farm and workers and would I trust you if you did?
It's ridiculous to claim one of the so called big three companies would cease chocolate manufacturing and I applaud Cadbury's efforts to use and market Fairtrade chocolate bars. I personally will always choose fairly trade chocolate over non fairly traded exploitative and destructive practices. At least Carbury's has some ethics left. Its appalling that people here are marketing "premium" confectionery products and exploiting the very people they depend upon.
If we follow your reasoning maybe we should all be doing our own HACCP certifications for food safety and it 'all be right. No need for someone to actually check what your really up to. LOL.
I'm not being "charged" that much. I offer it. While I'm not on a crusade to save the world, I certainly CAN impact those I directly do business with in a positive fashion, and lead by example. And it certainly IS a good deal for the plantation owner!
I guess the difference is that I truly DO what you pay lipservice to.
As far as what I'm up to, my shop HAS been inspected by the CFIA, and our chocolate HAS been tested for pathogen content and been passed with flying colors. If you'd like to check, please contact Mariana Marton, Food Safety Specialist from the Canada Food Inspection Agency. Her direct number is (403) 292-4650.
Oh... Wait. She's on holidays until next week. Here's her colleague's contact information if you'd like to know "what we're really up to", as you so put it:
Sarbjit MuttiFood Safety Specialist
Food Safety Specialist
In case you didn't get it, how would I know she's on holidays if I'm not in touch with the agency on a regular basis?
By the way... Our facility is so clean that you would get sicker eating raw cocoa beans than our confections after being rolled around on our floors.
I have nothing more to say on this topic.
What is a good deal for a plantation owner cannot be described as "ethical chocolate producer" unless its undergone third party scrutiny. I buy certified organic and fair trade. No certification : ethical claims are worthless. I hope your now seeing the point. B.T.W. HACCP certification is *not* the same as being inspected by your governmental agency.
Now dealing with your confuddlement clearly haciendas and prospering cooperatives are in a very different ball park to the 90%? of small subsistence farmers who's only demonstrably successful exit from that purgery is fair trade e.g. the Satipo Coop
Now what's the way a prospering agri business can improve its profits? The most obvious is to start using agri chemicals; fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and to control cost i.e. wages. Now every year in Australia many agri chemicals are removed from the permitted use list and banned as their environmental effects are better understood and characterised. There is no global oversight of this and clearly third world and developing countries have much less regulation or capacity to regulate than say Australia. So what agri chemicals are in your chocolate and who's made sure of that? That's why I believe organic certification is important (once farmers have managed to bootstrap themselves out of poverty by say fair trade).
I need to step in here.
One thing you may not know "Ice Blocks" (would be nice to have a real name to use) is that the vast majority of success in the Peruvian agro-sector is because of massive investment by organizations like USAID; my understanding is that something like US$100 million has gone into the economy in the past decade, much of it in cocoa and coffee.
Without that support, cooperatives like SATIPO could not exist and - more importantly - they would never be able to form into cooperatives large enough to support the expense of getting certification. Coops like SATIPO are not successful because of social certification - they became successful enough (through other means) to be able to take advantage of social certification.
While many people know that there ares fee for certification and recertification (which are, at a minimum, several thousand US$$/year) many people ignore or are simply unaware of the fact that it can take tens of thousands of dollars to remediate lands to get them to meet certification standards. Where does this money come from? In some cases, it comes from cocoa merchants, cocoa brokers, and cocoa buyers; in others from government programs; and in other cases it comes from NGOs. One place it does NOT come from is social certification organizations like FLO or Rainforest Alliance.
One of the ironies of social certifications (like FLO) is that as they grow, they accrete cost centers - they become more expensive to operate. As they become more expensive to operate, their ability to work with smaller organizations becomes increasingly difficult. Thus, the safety net they are supposed to provide reaches out to cover fewer and fewer people.
One of the unique challenges with the Ivory Coast is that there are strong societal barriers to the creation of large coops such as those that can be found in neighboring Ghana. Tribal rivalries and language barriers make it difficult to create coops large enough to reach the critical mass necessary to success and the ability to afford social certifications. A major issue I have with all social certification organizations is that they are culturally insensitive: they are one size fits all "solutions."
I also have to strongly disagree with the statement that "without social certification ethical claims are worthless." All you have to do is to take a look at what Shawn Askinosie is doing to know that this is not the case. Or what Mott Green is doing in Grenada. Or what Volker Lehmann is doing in Bolivia. I can't speak directly to what Brad is saying as I have never visited the farms he is buying from. Paying $6000-$7500 tonne for specialty beans is not unheard of; in fact it's pretty common. Brad is correct in saying that penning your survival on commodity market prices is a recipe for disaster.
On the other hand, I have seen that just because a coop has achieved social certification does not mean that everything is being done ethically. I have personally seen child labor at a Rainforest Alliance-certified coop that is against their rules. I have talked directly to workers at FLO/Organic certified coops that say that the amount they receive for the combined social/organic premium does not cover the labor involved to get it.
While I don't agree with some of the language Brad chooses to use, his point about bureaucratic paperwork is very important. While an Ivorian cocoa farmer may or may not be illiterate, what he is not is accustomed to doing paperwork. That's a European concept, not an Ivorian concept. He doesn't understand why it's necessary and, in fact, won't do it unless forced to. Even then, the coop has to hire someone to make sure the records are being kept properly and find some way to make sure the paperwork gets done or be faced with losing the certification. Where does money come from to pay the worker who gets hired to oversee that the paperwork gets done? From what's left of the social premium after the certification fees are subtracted.
The overarching point I want to make here is that without direct personal knowledge, you don't know really know what's going on. Taking the word of any NGO or governmental organization at face value means you're not hearing the entire story - you're not learning the whole truth. To start, they demand far more transparency and reporting up the supply chain then they deliver back down the supply chain. Why? Because as businesses, Social Certification programs are not sustainable. How ironic. They suck tens of millions of dollars out of the supply chain every year yet still rely on government subsidies and grants from companies and individuals.
I've traveled in Venezuela and Mexico with Shawn and seen how he deals with the people he buys his beans from. I've visited Mott in Grenada and seen what's he up against with the Grenada Cocoa Association. I've been to Bolivia and seen the field organization that Volker Lehmann has put together. Personally, I place a lot more faith in them as individuals - their commitment to supporting their farmers - than I do in any NGO with air-conditioned offices in Berkeley or Bonn.
You don't have to take my word for it. All I ask is that before you unquestioningly put your faith in an NGO, go look for yourself, and not just in very "western" countries (like Peru). Go look in places where social certification has NOT been successful and try to learn why not.