Divine Chocolate is classed as a global social enterprise and a certified B Corporation. In addition, their Divine Organic range has an Organic Certification. The company was the highest-rated food B-Corp in the UK in 2020 as well as being the 2020 winner of the Blue Patch Award for Global Impact and the International Fairtrader of the year 2020.
It is the world’s first and only Fairtrade chocolate company that is co-owned by cocoa farmers. Kuapa Kokoo is a cooperative of 100,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana, owning 44% ( the largest share) as well as holding two seats (40%) on the Board of Directors. Not only is the company part of the Fairtrade initiative, they also invest 2% of their income in farmer-led programmes focusing on five areas of action: Gender Justice, Sustainable Agriculture, Labour Standards, Strong Democratic Organisations and Learning and Leading.
They have been releasing annual impact reports since 2007. Their latest report (2019-2020 ) focused on the overall impact they have achieved in Climate Justice, Fairtrade and Farming Communities as well as their Awards and Recognition. It also broke down the impact they have had in each of the 4 farming co-operatives they work with.
Most of their chocolate bars contain the same basic ingredients of Fairtrade Sugar, Fairtrade Cocoa Butter, Fairtrade Cocoa Mass followed by an emulsifier and a wide variety of flavourings and ingredients such as nuts or fruit. Depending on if it's white, milk or dark chocolate they will have not only different ratios of ingredients but also additional ingredients such as milk powder, cream and others. As can be seen from the list, most of the ingredients used are Fairtrade.
Divine claim that their product ingredients are constantly under review to ensure the lowest environmental impact. Furthermore, the company does not use soy or palm oil in any of the chocolate and they also do not use GM ingredients in any of their products. In addition, they have been able to apply the Vegan Society approval across a variety of their product lines.
In regards to packaging, they say that they make every effort to employ recycled materials for their packaging as well as to minimise packaging and reduce waste. However, in their impact report, they also state that packaging is one of the areas they are looking to make further improvements in. They add that great progress has already been made as their Easter Egg boxes are now 100% plastic-free and have a tight fit triangular shape to reduce the amount of packaging as well. Subsequently, they have stated that they are working to develop a sustainability packaging strategy for all their chocolate ranges and will communicate the development of this in late 2021.
The company does make it clear that in order to reduce their carbon emissions, especially in the supply chain, they work with the said supply chain to reduce road and sea miles. One way in which they achieve this is by never using air freight or taking internal flights.
Cocoa farmers are well trained to carry out each stage of the process from planting through to harvesting and then onto fermenting and drying to ensure the best quality.
The process by which the cocoa bean becomes a chocolate bar:
Step 1 - Growing Cocoa; it grows best under the canopy of the tropical rainforest.
Step 2 - Harvesting Cocoa; Harvest time is critical for quality control. Harvesting too early leads to the absence of the cocoa flavour and too late and the beans may germinate.
Step 3 - Fermenting and Drying; This two-stage process begins the transformation from a bitter cocoa bean to the familiar chocolate taste
Step 4 - Processing the Beans; This process transforms the cocoa beans into cocoa butter and from then also into cocoa powder
Step 5 - Making the Chocolate; Cocoa butter and cocoa mass are combined in varying proportions and then sugar is added. For milk chocolate, there is also the addition of milk. A variety of flavours and ingredients such as nuts can be added at this stage. The chocolate is then wrapped, packed and transported to handling warehouses.
Kuapa Kokoo's motto is Pa Pa Paa which translated from Twi, a Ghanaian language, means 'Best of the Best', reflecting the pride the members of the cooperative have in the quality of the cocoa they produce. In addition to the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, the Divine company also works with CECAQ-11 in Sao Tome, NGOLEAGORBU Cocoa Farmers Union in Sierra Leone and Kasinthula Cane Growers' Association in Malawi.
Due to the innovative structure of the company, the farmers in the co-operatives have multiple revenue streams. The Kuapa Kokoo receives a share of Divines distributable profits. Farmers are guaranteed a Fairtrade minimum price of $2400 per tonne of cocoa as well as an additional Fairtrade premium of $240 per tonne of cocoa which farmers can decide how to invest in community initiatives. There is also a Producer Support and Development fund which supports many cooperative projects. The impact report highlights that Divine paid out $133,977 in Fairtrade premium to cocoa farmers and $11, 363 in Fairtrade premium to sugar farmers.
Each bar can be traced to the farm from which the cocoa used came from as after step 3 in the Bean-to-Bar process, the beans are packed into jute bags and stored, on each bag, the code of the village from which the beans came from is painted onto the side.
The website does have a meet the farmers section which lists some (17) of the cocoa farmers Divine work with. As cocoa farming is dominated by men, the company has a commitment to Gender Equality which comes in the shape of empowering women farmers. They support women in cocoa farming by helping them develop their skills and confidence to grow better cocoa, build better communities and thrive in business. Further down the page, there is also a Divine team section detailing members of both the UK and US teams. In the UK, the offices have been moved to a Sustainable workplace in 2020, which is a co-working office for purpose-led organisations in South London.