Thanks for asking! It’s a good question and one we get a lot. The reason being that mainstream chocolate generally is cheap, and that’s created a perception that cheap chocolate is the norm.
But chocolate shouldn’t be considered a low-value commodity – it’s a premium one. It’s a tree crop, harvested by hand (how many mass market crops are harvested by hand?) then, after fermentation and drying in small batches, it’s shipped long distances before undergoing other processes to make it into chocolate.
This introduces the question we should be asking: why is mainstream chocolate so cheap?
Cheap chocolate is a false economy. Just like in many other industries, to get something cheap, something has to give. And it’s normally either people or the planet:
Did you know that millions of cocoa farmers in West Africa where 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from live in desperate poverty?
Did you know that an estimated 500,000 tons of cocoa beans per year come from trees grown in ‘protected’ nature reserves? In Ivory Coast, 85% of forests have been lost to cocoa farming just since 1990.
Did you know that cocoa farmers in West Africa have, in most cases, no say over the price they sell the cocoa beans for? The power structure means that the price is determined by a very small number of businesses further up the supply chain.
So with this in mind, we like to celebrate the fact that we charge more for our chocolate for these straightforward, but important, reasons:
1. Our supply chain: we believe that people along every aspect of the supply chain should benefit; commercial chocolate is cheap because exploitation often takes place at the bottom of the supply chain (the farmers), and only the big companies at the top profit. So, we have established long-term partnerships with fair-trade farmer’s cooperatives in Ecuador and we pay 42% more than the fair-trade price for cocoa beans.
2. Our ingredients: Cacao is the most expensive ingredient in chocolate, and we never go below 50% cocoa solids. Popular milk chocolate bars in the UK have between 20-25% cocoa solids, and the rest of the bar is bulked up with cheaper ingredients, such as milk and sugar. We add only high-quality, organic ingredients which cost more, meaning the cost of our chocolate is higher. The sugar we use is organic coconut sugar. It’s a natural, unrefined sugar made from the sap of the coconut palm tree by a fair-trade, family-run business in the Philippines, and our fruity bars contain real fruit!
3. Our team: we’re a small company with only 23 members of staff. Every batch of chocolate is lovingly made from scratch in our own chocolate factory near Cambridge, meanwhile some other brands outsource their production to big factories. The cost of production is higher when you’re smaller, it’s as simple as that. Every bar of Coco Almond has its almonds added by hand, and the same goes for the nibs in Salt & Nibs!
We hope you’ll agree that spending a bit more on ethically produced chocolate is worth it.
Look at it this way: power lies with consumers and where they choose to spend their money. By buying Ombar or other ethical chocolate producers or food brands, you’re investing in something that’s overall better for people, and better for the planet too.