A Guide to Conscious Consumption: Why is Sustainable Chocolate Important?

Our CBD Sustainable Chocolate

Cocoa is in the news at the moment as global prices rise to all-time highs, reaching double the price of previous records. Despite this, chocolate has never been more in demand. The very word conjures up images of indulgence and feeling good. Millions of people indulge in the deliciousness, and the benefits of chocolate are widely studied. Cacao offers a range of health benefits, from improved cognitive function to reduced risk of heart disease

But did you know that the chocolate you buy has a significant impact on people and the world around you? Fairness and sustainability in the production and supply of chocolate is crucial, and we must be all aware of the chain of events that begin in the soil, and lead to the bar in your hand. 

The Importance of environmental sustainability and fair trade in the chocolate industry cannot be understated. Fairtrade chocolate ensures that cocoa producers are treated equitably. This means that at a minimum, they receive a living wage, have safe working conditions, and have access to healthcare and education for their families. And producing cacao in an environmentally sustainable way, that does not deplete natural resources and pollute has never been more vital.

However, the mass-market chocolate industry falls short when it comes to ethical and environmental practices. It’s often down to micro brands in this giant global industry to lead the way in giving consumers the choice and opportunity to be conscious consumers. 

What is Sustainable Chocolate? 

CBD Chocolate bars in different ranges

The term ‘sustainable chocolate’ refers to chocolate produced in a way that minimises negative environmental and social impacts. 

Sustainable chocolate encompasses the entire chocolate-making process, primarily: ethical sourcing, environmental responsibility and long-term viability for cocoa production that includes the well-being of the people who grow and process the ingredients. 

Sustainable chocolate brands prioritise fair trade certifications that create awareness and a pathway for the industry to change. This helps to combat the exploitation inherent in some conventional supply chains. 

Brands that create sustainable chocolate products are committed to environmentally conscious practices, minimising deforestation and safeguarding biodiversity. 

Sustainable chocolate often utilises higher-grade, single-origin cocoa beans, unlocking a sophisticated spectrum of rich, complex flavours, that are often diluted and masked by high sugar mass-produced chocolate that tends to cater to fleeting indulgence.

How is Sustainable Chocolate Produced? 

The creation of sustainable chocolate follows a set of principles that sets it apart from mass market industrialised production. These include: 

1. Responsible for Cocoa Bean Cultivation 

Organic farming methods replace harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilisers with natural alternatives that nurture soil health and promote biodiversity. 

2. Combating Deforestation

Sustainable practices advocate for agroforestry, a method where cocoa trees flourish alongside other plant life. This symbiotic relationship provides shade for cocoa trees, mitigating the need to clear new land. Additionally, reforestation initiatives play a vital role in restoring lost habitats and ensuring the longevity of cocoa production.

3. Empowering Cocoa Communities

Sustainable chocolate methods help to make sure cocoa producers receive a fair price for their beans, enabling them to invest in their farms and families' well-being, fostering long-term, equitable partnerships.

Why is Sustainable Chocolate Better?

Tucking into a sustainable chocolate bar comes with the ultimate benefit of having a clear conscious. Our CBD chocolate follows the same considerations as the majority of sustainable chocolate producers, including where the cocoa beans are grown, how they are farmed and processed, and how the chocolate is produced. All of this combines to deliver chocolate that is simply better in quality and with a more diverse range of flavour profiles. 

The Environmental Effects of Sustainable Chocolate

Currently, mass-produced chocolate often relies on unsustainable practices. Ginormous cocoa farms clear vast swathes of the rainforest to make way for monoculture plantations, leading to deforestation and biodiversity loss. Additionally, these farms may use harmful pesticides and fertilisers, polluting waterways. 

Sustainable chocolate production, on the other hand, prioritises eco-friendly practices. This includes:

  • Agroforestry: Integrating cocoa trees with other plants and providing shade cover, promoting biodiversity and soil health. Creating an environment that is more in line with nature's way.
  • Organic Farming: Using natural fertilisers and pest control methods to protect the local ecosystem whilst ensuring the health of the cocoa trees in a more symbiotic environment.
  • Water Conservation: Utilising techniques that minimise water usage in the chocolate-making process.

How Does Buying Fair Trade Help People and the Planet? The Power of the Collective 

First, let’s look at some of the problems facing a region where they don’t produce cocoa following fair trade initiatives. West Africa is the world's leading producer of cocoa beans. However, the industry in this area has been plagued by ethical and environmental issues, including:

  • Child Labour: A report by the International Labour Organisation- estimates that there were still around 1.5 million children working in cocoa production in West Africa.
  • Deforestation: Cocoa production is a major driver of deforestation in West Africa. Forests are cleared to make way for cocoa plantations, which destroys habitat for endangered species and contributes to climate change.
  • Low Wages for Farmers: Cocoa farmers in West Africa often live in poverty. The low price of cocoa beans makes it difficult for them to earn a living wage and invest in sustainable farming practices.

Industrialised production of cheap cocoa by massive confectioners, who drive prices down, maintains these poor conditions for people and their land.

The good news is…

Fair Trade practices create a system whereby cocoa farmers receive a fair price for their beans. This empowers them to re-invest in their communities, make improvements to their livelihoods, and break the cycle of poverty. 

Additionally, fair trade certifications prioritise the sustainable farming methods we have covered.  The purchasing decisions we make have real-world consequences, as we do have a collective power to change how things are done. 

By choosing sustainable chocolate, you're actively contributing to a healthier planet. Here’s how:

  • Reducing Deforestation: Sustainable practices protect rainforests, which are crucial for absorbing carbon dioxide and mitigating climate change.
  • Improved Soil Quality: Organic farming techniques promote healthy soil, which retains water more effectively and reduces erosion.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Sustainable farms provide habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal life.

The Certifications: Your Guide to Ethical Chocolate

With so much information available, we can make informed choices and look for sustainability certifications on chocolate packaging. These labels signify the brand's commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.

Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ are popular certifications for sustainable chocolate. Understanding chocolate certifications can be confusing. They provide a valuable but also imperfect support line. Here's a breakdown of some key certifications you might encounter:

  • Fairtrade International: Fairtrade acts as a bridge for sustainable chocolate. They guarantee cocoa farmers a minimum price, protecting them from volatile markets and ensuring they can cover essential costs. Additionally, a Fairtrade premium empowers farmers to invest in their farms and communities, promoting long-term sustainability. Choosing Fairtrade chocolate fosters economic justice and environmental responsibility within the cocoa industry.
  • UTZ Certified: UTZ which stands for “good” in Mayan, focuses on responsible sourcing and sustainable farming practices. UTZ trains farmers in better agricultural practices, improving crop yields and environmental protection. It also encourages safe working conditions and tackles child labour. While not as focused on direct farmer income as Fairtrade, UTZ certification provides a wider reach, impacting a larger portion of the cocoa market.
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified: Rainforest Alliance tackles sustainability in cocoa farming from an ecological and social angle, promoting sustainable farming practices and protecting biodiversity. They train farmers to protect rainforests and improve soil health. This helps combat deforestation and promotes biodiversity. Additionally, the program focuses on worker well-being, aiming for more equitable labour practices and reducing child labour.

A Complex Story

These organisations do much to improve sustainability in the chocolate trade, not to mention the massive amounts of awareness, however, there is no one perfect solution.  They face challenges in ensuring consistent implementation and reaching all farmers. For example:

Fairtrade certification guarantees a minimum price for cocoa beans and fair labour practices for farmers. However, certification can be expensive for small farms, and some argue it doesn't address all social issues as it does not necessarily guarantee that child labour is not being used.

UTZ Certified: UTZ (now merged with Rainforest Alliance) focuses on better farming methods for higher yields, but lacks strong minimum price guarantees.

Rainforest Alliance certification focuses on environmental sustainability. However, it does not have as strict requirements for fair labour practices as Fairtrade. Rainforest Alliance emphasises environmental practices and worker well-being, but critics argue their standards are less strict than Fairtrade's.

Another Way - Independent Producers 

Some chocolate brands take an alternative route, and go direct to smaller producers who operate outside of these certification programmes - some family-run companies in South America implement sustainable practices of their own in a more localised way.

Choosing Ethical Chocolate

Here are some tips for buying sustainable chocolate:

  • Look for chocolate with sustainability certifications 
  • Research chocolate makers. Learn about their sourcing practices and commitment to sustainability 
  • Choose chocolate makers that are transparent about their supply chain, their ingredients and labour practices
  • Buy chocolate from smaller chocolate makers who are more likely to source their cocoa beans directly from farmers and use sustainable practices

Our Ethical Chocolate

CBD healthy 70% dark chocolate

We have searched far and wide to find ethically sourced cocoa directly from a family producer in Columbia called Luker Chocolate, one of the highest-regarded and most purpose-driven chocolate suppliers in the world. With over 100 years of experience, Luker prioritises sustainable production within their community. They are a Certified B corporation which further solidifies its commitment to a sustainability model that prioritises its stakeholders' welfare.

The exceptional Fino de Aroma (fine flavour) cacao has a flavour full of contrasts - nutty, mildly spicy and with fruit acidity - Subtly bitter and robust, its taste is long-lasting & satisfying.

We take this and infuse it with adaptogens like CBD and Ashwagandha to create a chocolate experience that is delicious and promotes well-being. Explore our range here.


Which chocolate is the most sustainable?

There is no single "most sustainable" chocolate, as sustainability encompasses a wide range of factors. However, looking for brands that prioritise sustainable practices - will guide you in making an ethical choice.

What are sustainable chocolates?

Sustainable chocolates are produced with ethical and environmental considerations in mind. This includes fair treatment of cocoa farmers, sustainable farming practices that protect rainforests and soil health, and responsible water usage throughout the chocolate-making process. By choosing sustainable chocolate, you're contributing to a healthier planet and supporting cocoa farmers who are vital to the chocolate industry.


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