Starting a new partnership with a co-op in São Tomé, off the coast of West Africa, Divine Chocolate introduced their new organic line of chocolate bars this month.
With a mission to empower farmers and give them a voice in the global marketplace, Divine looked for an organic supply partner that would support their cooperative supply principles, without posing a risk to their current suppliers and co-owners. Divine Chocolate is co-owned by Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Cooperative in Ghana.
Because new cocoa trees take up to three to five years to mature, working as a cocoa farmer—and especially converting to organic—can be a longterm investment. Partnering with a new co-op in São Tomé meant bringing organic to the brand sooner, while still focusing on the social and economic well-being of Divine’s founding farmers.
“We are still growing and working with more farmers, helping more people to sustain their livelihoods,” said Callie Yow, Divine’s Communications Coordinator, in a conversation about their new line.
The new partnership also allows the company to expand their flavor profile. While the original bars have a smooth, butter-like quality typical of Ghanaian cocoa, the new line highlights the fruitier taste of a tropical supply area like São Tomé.
Their new partner, the CECAQ-11 Co-op has more than 1,100 farmer-members, including over 400 women. The group worked with organizations like the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Twin Trading to strengthen their business capacity, and Café Direct also supported the co-op as they were first developing.
Moving forward with the organic line, Divine is not just another company seeking to acquire supply. Rather, their aim is to bring farmers to the same level and playing field, Yow said.
Currently available online, the line of four bars feature 85 percent dark chocolate with additions like turmeric and ginger, and blueberry and popped quinoa. All bars in the new organic line are also vegan society certified and USDA Certified Organic.