There is a huge amount of criticism about the chocolate industry, and often rightly so. Like you, we have concerns around how many behave within the industry, especially on the global stage.
We are not perfect, and we are always looking for ways to improve and do better, however, we stand by our claims that we are a fully transparent and ethical chocolate maker.
We want to thank everyone for loving our chocolate and supporting us to make chocolate sustainable and good for everyone.
Read below for why we’re an ethical maker, and exactly how we make our delicious chocolate.
First off, what is our chocolate?
We put our hearts into making pure and delicious chocolate for all New Zealanders. Our chocolate is available in our stores, selected retailers and supermarkets across New Zealand.
We strive to always be an ethical chocolate brand that puts farmers first and does not compromise on quality.
We are not a bean to bar chocolate manufacturer. Why?
We’re not a bean-to-bar manufacturer. We believe that our trading partners should retain as much value as possible in the supply chain. Trade Aid seeks to maximise the extra value that we can provide to small-scale producers through our trade. Subsequently, we have chosen to manufacture and sell relatively high volumes of chocolate through a process which is much more efficient (and less costly in New Zealand, per bar) than bean to bar manufacturing. The automated production of bars, and automated wrapping, allows us to sell our chocolate bars at a lower cost and in greater volumes and thus provide a much greater added income to cocoa producers than we could offer them as a bean to bar manufacturer.
Where do we make our chocolate?
In 2014, we opened our Sweet Justice Chocolate Factory, and became the world’s first fair trade organisation to manufacture 100% fair trade guaranteed organic chocolate.
We’re making our chocolate in-house, locally in central Christchurch, just up the road from our Head Office. We don’t have third party companies making our chocolate for us.
Who are our growers?
We’ve built long-term trading partnerships with the people who grow our ingredients. The organic cocoa beans that go into our chocolate come from cooperatives in the Dominican Republic and Peru.
The cocoa producers we trade with hand-harvest their cocoa crops with controlled fermentation and natural sun drying, the partnership between people and planet ensures quality ingredients.
Our sugar is organically grown on small farms in southern Paraguay, it is golden in colour and only lightly refined, retaining a hint of molasses and adding a subtle caramel flavour in the finished product. 20 years ago a small group of sugar farmers who had always been vulnerable to the impact of low and erratic sugar prices, took control of their businesses and formed the Manduvira cooperative. Today Manduvira comprises over 2,000 farmers and owns their own processing facility, from which they can export fine organic sugar directly to markets all over the world.
Do we use palm oil in our chocolate?
No, we do not. We never have and never would use ingredients like palm oil. We think about the quality, sustainability and the impact of any ingredient used within our products.
Do you have any certifications?
There are several different certifications across the industry. It can be confusing, but there is more than one fair trade standard. Trade Aid chocolate is not certified Fairtrade. Fairtrade New Zealand has separate standards to the fair trade principles that we follow.
Trade Aid is accredited by the World Fair Trade Organization’s (WFTO) Guarantee System, the first international fair trade system that verifies organisations’ compliance with 10 principles of fair trade. This is the first system that is able to deliver the promise of fair trade compliance and verifies organisations’ compliance throughout the entire supply chain. This Guarantee System ensures monitoring, credibility and sustainability and means that when you buy products you are assured that fair trade and sustainability is implemented in both the supply chain and the practices of their organisation.
Trade Aid is a pioneering social enterprise, creating fairness in trade, and has been the benchmark of authenticity in this area, educating the public and other businesses in the process. We believe in accountability and focus on bringing change through long-term partnerships based on honesty, transparency and equity. The WFTO Guarantee System is the easiest benchmark for companies and consumers to abide by.
Direct, fair trade partnerships enable cocoa and sugar farmers to enhance their businesses, their communities and their lives.
Trade Aid chocolate also has organic and vegan certifications.
Does our product price point compromise on quality?
Trade Aid chocolate is cost effective for the consumer but does not compromise on quality or ethics. There has been some criticism that you can not have a quality and ethical chocolate product under $10. Trade Aid disagrees with this claim.
As the buyer of cocoa beans, Trade Aid knows that cocoa producers receive the same price for the beans that go into one of our bars as do the producers who sell the beans that go into more expensive bars. We support a product that gives healthy returns to everyone within the supply chain, that maximises the extra value that we can deliver to small-scale cocoa producers through our trade and also is an affordable price point for our customers. We have chosen not to be a bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer and have an efficient production process in-order to help us achieve this.
Do we ethically source our ingredients and pay producers/farmers properly?
In short, yes, and we’re always looking for ways to increase revenue for everyone within our supply chains, so we all grow and thrive together. We source the cocoa and sugar that go into our chocolate through small-scale farmer cooperatives. Being together in a cooperative helps growers to demand the highest possible prices for their product. Fair trade pricing helps make sure a grower and their cooperative can cover their costs of sustainable production. It also enables diversification of their product into other market opportunities which further enhances economic opportunities.
Our packaging, is it sustainable?
We use compostable packaging for many of the food products across our range, including all our chocolate. Econic compostable wrappers, manufactured in New Zealand, are designed to retain the functionality and food safety provided by traditional plastic films, but without the impact on the environment.
They break down in your home composting system or worm farm in about 16 weeks, and that process will happen quicker if you shred the wrapper into smaller bits before putting them in.
How does modern slavery come into the chocolate conversation?
Buyers beware because there’s a sinister side to chocolate. Unfortunately, modern slavery, forced labour and child labour can be found within the supply chains of many available chocolate products in New Zealand and around the globe.
Trade Aid is committed to helping to remove modern slavery from the global chocolate supply chain.
More than 50% of the world’s chocolate comes from Ivory Coast and Ghana. There are 1.48 million estimated child slaves working on cocoa farms in these two countries alone. This number is relatively unchanged over the past decade despite claims of progress from the chocolate industry. A 2018-19 survey* showed that among children living in agricultural households in these cocoa growing areas, 43% were engaged in hazardous child labour in cocoa production.
In 2021 Trade Aid, alongside World Vision, ran an awareness campaign around the issues of modern slavery in supply chains. A petition of over 37,000 signatures was presented to Parliament calling for a Modern Slavery Act. Legislation is currently under review by the Select Committee. Trade Aid is part of an advisory group helping to inform the legislation. We are well on our way to having a Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand.