Several articles were published recently discussing forced child labor in third world countries for the harvesting, fermenting, and drying of the cacao bean, the first stages of the chocolate making process. In these countries, there are some bad actors who are irresponsible and abusive. You can read the details in some of the articles published, but I won’t post them here.
At Intrigue Chocolate Co we work only with providers that we trust, who assure us that they have teams who are on the farms, who work with the farms to produce the cacao bean. We reached out to the provider for the bulk of our chocolate, Puratos/Belcolade in Belgium, and they had the following to say about the issue:
“I read that article as well as it is completely legitimate. You and I, however, have nothing to worry about. Puratos is firmly against using child labor and go so far as to put in place supervisors on the farms to ensure that the farmers we partner with adhere to our ethical good business practices. Puratos has even put in place our own sustainability program called Cacao Trace. Remember , we showed you the CT chocolates? This program not only purchases high quality Cacao at a premium rate but also reinvests time and money educating them in techniques that produce stronger healthier crops for future success. We have documentation to prove this as well as a letter from corporate explaining our position should you need it. Your continued faith in us is not undeserved."
Some of our chocolate is made from the bean here in our facility in Seattle. These cacao beans we buy from trustworthy sources, who favor cacao that is certified “fair trade” and “organic”, or that would meet those standards if they could afford the certification. As consumers of chocolate, we must all be aware that those labels cost money. Farms that cannot afford “fair trade” or “organic” certifications don’t have the label on their packaging, even if they are completely organic (most farms in third world countries do not spray chemicals on their orchards), or traded fairly (with our distributors who vet the farms and work with them directly), and are free of forced child labor. Chocolate-makers and chocolatiers also have to pay for the right to use many of those labels.
Over the past 14 years we’ve taken steps to ensure that while we are focused on making tasty treats we are also doing good in the world. It is important to us! As a small company, though, what we can do is ensure we are working with partners we trust. We do trust our partners, and we thank them for their hard work.