How Does “Dirty” Cocoa End Up in Your Chocolate?

How Does “Dirty” Cocoa End Up in Your Chocolate? | Righteous Cacao
The “dirty” bean issue is real and continues to plague the world’s chocolate industry. Here at Righteously Raw Chocolate, we care deeply about protecting our environment and make every effort to do things the right way.

How is the ballooning global demand for chocolate destroying our forests?

Up to 70% of the world’s cocoa production originates in a belt that stretches from Sierra Leone to Cameroon, with the Ivory Coast and Ghana being the world’s largest producers.  As the demand grows for chocolate, the deforestation in West Africa continues on a devastating scale. Cocoa traders purchase beans that are illegally grown inside protected areas in the Ivory Coast and, in turn, sell them to Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and other big industry names. This is how the illegal product enters the supply chain and could be tainting Mars bars, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Milka bars with “dirty” cocoa. The big chocolate companies provide every reassurance that they are “working hard” to eliminate the “dirty” cocoa from their products. Regardless of what is being said or done, the harsh reality remains. By 2030, there will be no forest left if drastic change doesn’t happen and the “dirty” cocoa is not eradicated from their chocolate products.

How does Righteously Raw Chocolate differentiate themselves from the “Big Guys”?

  1. The cacao we source is from small coops and farmers who are all writing up their own standards of what they require beyond the “fair trade certification.
  2. We don’t source any cacao from the areas mentioned above. Our cacao product is organic and is sourced in Ecuador.
  3. We purchase the Heirloom cacao bean. This hasn’t been hybridized, or messed with like 95%+ of the cacao in the world. This is old breed unmodified cacao, often from very old trees and not the new monocrop style crossed beans.
  4. Our Arriba producer partner (ECUADOR) is Rainforest Alliance Certified under the Sustainable Agriculture Network. This means that they are certified to comply with the Sustainable Agriculture Network “Chain-of-Custody” requirements as stipulated in the “Chain of Custody Standard and Policy, current version”. The certification is based on inspections and audits conducted by this independent certification group:
  5. Our Arriba partners have a GFSI Food Safety certification (FSSC22000), which also covers (and scrutinizes) a broad range of sourcing procedures, incoming material controls, production batch controls, and related audit procedures which would make it very difficult to allow unqualified material to enter into production (worst case, the auditors would catch it if there was pervasive management fraud occurring).
  6. Our product is certified organic. There is a huge check and balance in organic product, because to maintain an organic certification, the entity has to go through an annual audit, again by an independent certifier. A big part of the audit is called a “Trace Back” where the auditor will pick products, get reports of unit sales, and then trace the related production batches back to source document for purchases (e.g. PO’s COA’s, Spec sheets, etc.)  This is done SPECIFICALLY to ensure that unqualified material (e.g. non-organic certified) does not enter the production product.The destruction of forests is a tragic reality that we take to heart and are advocating for change. We will only sell chocolate products that are made with the highest quality ingredients and come from the “cleanest” beans in the supply chain. That is the Righteously Raw Difference!

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