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Aug 29, 2023 1:41:49 PM7 min read

Crafted at Origin | An Approach for Direct Trade Chocolate

Refreshed and republished on August 29th, 2023
This post was originally published on June 06th, 2022, and has been enhanced and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

Premium chocolate segments continue to rise in popularity, with chocolate manufacturers and artisans emphasizing the need for superior ingredients.

But whilst many are cognizant of ‘Fair Trade’, Direct Trade chocolate has recently been spotlighted.  Not only do chocolate makers and brands want control over the source and flavour of their cacao, but they also want to see how farmers are treated and who is contributing to the final product. 

Why?

One could say that it builds brand consistency. 

We believe it is because it is the right thing to do. 

Sustainable & ethically sourced products are further amplified by the reality that consumers no longer want generic products that all taste the same. Instead, consumers are looking for something special with a story behind it. We like to live this concept under the name of ‘crafted at origin’. 

Combining decades of experience working with cocoa farmers, plantations, and chocolate businesses, our ‘crafted at origin’ approach allows full control and, thus, responsibility of all actors in our value chain. This helps us understand and address the unique challenges each 'link' faces in our chain and maximize value for all. 

Furthermore, this approach aligns with the concept of ‘direct-trade" chocolate. Let's dig deeper into this.

WHAT DOES DIRECT TRADE CHOCOLATE MEAN? 

Direct trade" chocolate refers to a sourcing model in the cacao (and often coffee) industry where chocolate makers establish direct relationships with cacao farmers or cooperatives. This model seeks to reduce the role of middlemen, like brokers or large commodity exchanges and often emphasizes increased transparency, better quality beans, and more sustainable and fair business practices.

Here are some of the key features and benefits of direct-trade chocolate:

  1. Higher Prices for Farmers: By reducing the role of middlemen, farmers or cooperatives can receive a higher price for their cacao beans. This often results in a price above the global commodity market rate and can also exceed the premium paid for certified Fair Trade cacao.
  2. Improved Quality: Direct relationships enable chocolate makers to work closely with farmers on issues related to cacao cultivation and post-harvest processing. As a result, the quality of the beans can be higher, and makers can get beans that fit their specific flavour profiles.
  3. Transparency: Direct trade emphasizes open relationships and clear communication between farmers and chocolate makers. This transparency can help consumers know more about where their chocolate comes from and the practices used in its production.
  4. Ethical and Sustainable Practices: Many direct trade partnerships focus on environmental sustainability, ethical treatment of workers, and social responsibility. This often goes beyond the requirements of certification bodies.
  5. Economic Stability for Farmers: Direct trade can provide farmers with more predictable and stable incomes. By having direct relationships and long-term contracts, farmers can better plan and invest in their operations.
  6. Innovation and Experimentation: With direct trade, there's often more room for innovation and experimentation. Farmers and chocolate makers can collaborate on new fermentation techniques, planting different cacao varieties, or implementing new sustainable farming practices.

 

WHY CRAFTED AT ORIGIN IS A VIABLE SOLUTION FOR DIRECT TRADE CHOCOLATES? 

Crafted at Origin is an approach we’ve learned over decades of working with cocoa farmers, plantations, and chocolate businesses. It’s also our own way of doing things, the Luker way.  It entails having full control and hence, the responsibility of all actors in the cocoa value chain to help us understand and maximize the value for all of them.

We frankly believe this approach provides  chocolate professionals, manufacturers, and brands with:

  • A process is responsible for the environment where the product gets sourced.
  • A process that will maximize the economic value for the cocoa farmer.
  • A process with total transparency. We can pinpoint any variable that might be fundamental to the product's success.

Conscious consumers do prefer products that can demonstrate the origin of their ingredients, but even more importantly, whether the source is doing good for the planet or not. 

40% of consumers factor sustainability into their food purchasing decisions, as their increasing concern for transparency and sustainability in the food industry stems from a growing awareness of the environmental and social implications of their food choices.

An important part of this sustainability trend is the emphasis on a transparent supply chain. Consumers want to know where their food comes from. Clarkston Consulting, 2023 Food Industry Trends

chocolate bar makers

85% of consumers globally say information on what is in their food is of significant importance whilst 59% want to know where their food comes from and how it is made  Innova Consumer Survey 2021

WHAT MAKES CRAFTED AT ORIGIN SPECIAL?

The meaning of ‘crafted at origin can be explained by splitting the term in two. When we talk about something being crafted, we are talking about something that was made with a lot of care and hard work and has a story behind it. And then, we have an origin, which refers to special features that describe the unique place a product or ingredient has been grown and sourced from. 

Put these together, and we have our crafted at-origin chocolate – chocolate that is carefully made with Luker’s detailed expertise since the early 1900’s, processed from bean to bar in the single origin of Colombia.

Usually, when people talk about single origin, they talk about a cacao bean coming from just one region or a process made in one place. We combine these two options to have completely crafted at-origin chocolate.

The idea of crafted at-origin chocolate is not just knowing the maker but the farmers and processes behind the cacao beans. While Luker’s chocolate is crafted at origin, there are multiple cacao-growing communities in Colombia that help us make one of the finest chocolates in the world - Cacao Fino de Aroma.

The fact that our chocolate comes from farms all around Colombia, means that Luker gets to work firsthand with communities. We currently have three farms that support surrounding communities to provide the best quality cocoa beans and support them directly to follow best practices and make the most income out of their harvest.

SUSTAINABLE CHOCOLATE TASTES BETTER

By working with farmers directly, we can form the exact properties we’re looking for in the most sustainable way and grow together. We have ongoing projects with several Colombian communities to not only help them grow high quality cacao but also to grow as a community in different aspects like education, well-being and more.

dark chocolate manufacturers

These close relationships we’ve built with farmers and their communities also allow for full transparency across each part of the process. At Luker Chocolate, we are working everyday to make sure that our clients are aware of the importance of the traceability that comes with a crafted at origin product. Sharing how it can benefit their own storytelling and the efforts towards creating a better world through chocolate.

THE FUTURE OF CRAFT CHOCOLATE

What is next for crafted at Origin Chocolate and Luker?

"Our chocolates are crafted at origin, allowing us to assure the quality and stability of the product tastes relevant to current consumers' demands inclined for high end products.

We are putting the necessary effort and knowledge to bring innovation in our product development approach to innovate. For us, this requiresto be connected to what's happening at origin.

Everyone must keep assuring the quality of the cocoa crops and the well-being of the people in that cocoa value chain. That's what allows chocolate entrepreneurs to locate a reliable business partner to manufacture their products."

Guido Torres 

Former Marketing Activation Professional 

Crafted at Origin has certainly started a movement. For Luker and our clients, we don’t want to just sell a product, we want to connect with consumers and make everyone feel like they are part of something bigger.

The growing demand for attributes including sustainability and socially responsible certifications has played a key role in the development of the industry. Not only are we able to distinguish ourselves for our fine flavour, but already Luker adheres to ethical practices and is focused on improving the working conditions of our suppliers.

We can only hope to continue working with our clients to become a best practice example and prioritise the sustainable development of the communities we work with.

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