24×25 Certification Program
K’UL® Chocolate is working towards providing support for 24 certified organic women’s cooperatives throughout the equatorial belt.
These direct-trade partnerships have increased their communities economic prosperity by being able to provide the world market with organic cocoa products. These groups have built strong relationships with local growers to further strengthen their community. Together these two programs have created a direct, positive impact on over 25,000 people.
Sounds pretty good right? It’s more complicated than you may think. Many of us are aware of the state of cacao in West Africa where practices like slave labor are commonplace. You see, the global chocolate industry has artificially driven down the price of chocolate at the cost of the very people who have carefully labored to harvest cocoa each season. With global income averages for farmers at $2.00 a day, this only gives them 6% of the net sales of the retail price of a chocolate bar. The current system makes it difficult for farmers and women’s cooperatives to become independent because they cannot afford to pay for the certification on their own. As as result, they are beholden to the exporters that hold the certifications.
Chocolate is a $100 billion dollar industry, yet many cacao farmers live on less than $2 a day.
Manufacturers and retailers have reaped tremendous benefits over the last 20 years due to increased demand for chocolate. In fact, in 2016 global chocolate sales will reach $98,000,000,000. In 2020 that number jumps to a staggering $125,000,000,000. To put that into perspective, you could provide food to the world’s hungry for 4 consecutive years.
What are we going to do about it? As mentioned above, 2025 has some ambitious goals and it’s not too far away. We created a business + social enterprise called K’UL that uses cacao to raise awareness to the human cost of chocolate and provide economic opportunities to groups throughout the world. We are attempting to re-write the way cacao is sourced, how the growers and producers are considered in the process as true partners and ensuring those that do the hard work of growing, harvesting and processing cacao is compensated fairly with a living wage.
This involves a willingness to not simply pick up the phone and call a broker to order cacao but instead going directly to the farmers and cooperatives. Taking the time to understand their dreams and desires, how they want to do business and creating a space where everyone wins. It’s working with governments, certifying bodies creating connections so everyone can benefit. In the end, it’s all about relationships; creating a conduit between those working in the fields and processing the beans and those enjoying the magical taste of chocolate.