Rettergut – Mixed chocolate
Their brandname Rettergut is German for ‘saving goodness’. Rettergut is a small and successful food saving company in Germany which makes products out of food that would have otherwise been wasted. This chocolate is saving the perfectly good chocolate mass that is usually wasted during production and makes chocolate bars out of that – pretty amazing if you ask me. I believe in their product and mission whole heartedly, however, their messaging and marketing about the certification of the cocoa and paper do not seem to represent their values. In addition, the supply chain is lacking transparency so there is definitely some room for growth. Still, I think it is obviously far better than conventional chocolate as it is SAVING ingredients so I would totally buy it.
In order to talk about what this chocolate is made of, one has to first understand the process of how chocolate is produced in the factory:
Hundreds of kilos of chocolate are lost every time the type of chocolate in the production is changed as chocolate has to be cleaned with chocolate. What does that mean? So imagine the chocolate factory is making milk chocolate and wants to switch the production to dark chocolate – to clean the equipment for this switch pure dark chocolate has to fun through it to ‘clean it out’, so to speak. Several hundred kilograms of this mass of milk chocolate and dark chocolate that is produced in the switch of production is usually wasted. With a rising demand of chocolate variations on the market, there is increasingly more chocolate wasted during this switch. Here is where Rettergut comes in:
Rettergut takes this so called batch separation mass which, in our example, is a mixture of high quality dark and milk chocolate and creates chocolate bars out of them.
By saving this chocolate mass, Rettergut is not only saving the chocolate itself, but also the resources that are needed to buy this chocolate. They claim that one kilogram of cocoa needs up to 20.000 liters of water in the production.
So what are the ingredients of this chocolate? I guess the answer to this question is ambiguous - all we know is that it is a random mix of high quality chocolate.
Rettergut claims to be CO2 neutral, however, there is no further explanation on what this term means for them – are they neutral because they save food? Does their production run on green energy? Do they buy carbon offset? The term CO2 neutral is vague and used a lot for many different ways of sustainable, but also green-washed products. Therefore, I would need more information to judge their production.
Retterguts cocoa is all UTZ certified. Good or bad? Rettergut presents this as one of their good sustainability facts among the CO2 neutral and the chocolate being saved which is extremely surprising to me. Whilst the UTZ certificate sounds good and familiar as it is the biggest cocoa certifier in the world, it provides certified chocolate for Nestlé, Hersheys, Mars and Ferrero which have repeated child labour issues, unfair wages and rainforest damage. So how come Rettergut presents this as a good point and does not point out the reality of the cocoa industry. Nevertheless, I think saving the chocolate, independent of source, is a good. I am not criticising the product but the marketing and messaging of it.
The packaging is made from a compostable foil and paper. The foil is needed to preserve the chocolate and keep it fresh for longer and paper is very easy to recycle and can also be composted.
However, similarly to the UTZ certification, Rettergut points out that their paper has a Forest Stewardship Council certification. FSC has been known for greenwashing and scandals about illegal selling of wood from the Amazon and other places, causing deforestation. If the mission was really to be sustainable, Rettergut could have used recycled paper which goes well with their resource saving goal.
The UTZ and FSC certifications made me skeptical of the messaging of the product – why would they show pride in these certificates if they are obviously greenwashing and do not show any sign sustainability. However, if Rettergut would have put no label on where the chocolate or the paper came from, I think I would have not criticised them at all because I still believe paper to be a great alternative to plastic and I believe that chocolate should be saved, independent of how it was produced.
There is almost no information on the supply chain and the production process. This surprises me as it is a mission driven company.
However, who the chocolate is made by might be less important in this case as Rettergut is saving the food that would have otherwise been wasted. In addition, by putting food-saving chocolate on the market, less conventional chocolate might be bought (however, this is uncertain).
When I was volunteering for a food-saving organisation in Berlin, the goal was to safe resources no matter what they are made of, how ethical or unethical the brand was and who will ultimately consume the product. In a way, the more unsustainable the product, the more it is worth saving to be consumed as more resources are being saved. Therefore, I would put less emphasis on Rettergut’s supply chain.
In addition, Rettergut supports projects such as ‘GemüseAckerdemie’, which educated children on where food comes from and how it is grown, FridaysForFuture and ‘Helping Hands’, which provides snacks to essential workers in Berlin hospitals during the pandemic. As Rettergut is a very small company, their efforts local, yet impactful and meaningful.
However, it would be good to find out more about where they take the chocolate from. It would be especially good to find out their own production process and working conditions. I guess they are relying on people like me giving them the benefit of the doubt for producing in Germany where basic working conditions are usually at a high standard. However, there is more to working conditions than basic rights such as gender and ethnic equity.