The question for me is - why is so much chocolate so cheap?
The ugly answer is, because child slave labour is used in many parts of the cacao industry and large companies that mass manufacture chocolate don't do enough to stop it. The other ugly answer, is that farmers are not paid a proper price for their crop.
If you are reading this blog, then you are already buying artisan (or craft) chocolate sometimes, if not all the time. However you still might be buying your favourite treat from the supermarket you have eaten since a kid.
It's those cheaper treats that tend to have cacao sourced from farms using slave labour and/or not paying a fair price to the farmer so they make a genuine profit and can be more than just subsistence farmers. Currently the average African cocoa farmer earns less than $US1.20 a day, not quite half the amount considered a living income, making them subsistence farmers.
This is tough to read about - especially for someone who spends most of their life willingly in chocolate land. It is why I am very careful about which Australian chocolatiers I work with and share lots of info about how chocolate is made, how beans are sourced, what the manufacturing process is etc - it is all about raising awareness of the true cost of the chocolates we love to share and enjoy with family and friends.
For a very detailed article about the call by Australian Chocolatiers to do more and ethically source cacao, rather than pay lip service to it, read this recent article 'Why is Chocolate so cheap? released by the Sydney Morning Herald / The Age (in Melbourne) this past week.
Fred Lullfitz from Birdsnake is referenced - yes we stock the fab Birdsnake range in our vegan chocolate tasting boxes. Birdsnake pays more than double the commodity price for its cocoa beans and lists the prices on its website, this is ethical sourcing and transparency of what is happening in action.
As noted in the news article, the current Australian commodity price for cocoa beans has fluctuated between $3.09 and $3.50 per kilogram over the past year. However most artisan chocolatiers in Australia are paying at least $9 per kg, which makes a big difference to the price you pay for your block - and of course the price the cacao farmer receives.
For my part, I have information about the Artisan Dessert Makers, Chocolatiers and Pastry Chefs I work with on my website. With click through links to their sites, so you can do your own research before buying your next chocolate treat.
Get in touch if you want to know more, Kylie