This is a very exciting day in Taza history. Our co-founder Alex Whitmore and Sourcing Manager Jesse Last will arrive in Cap-Haïtien this afternoon on a special mission: Taza will be first American chocolate company to purchase premium, Certified USDA Organic cacao from Haiti.
As we always do through our Direct Trade Certified Cacao program, we will pay the growers at least $500—a premium of 15-20%—above the market price per metric ton. This will mark the entrance of Haitian cacao into the premium market, which will mean higher, more sustainable incomes for farmers. In other words, the introduction of this new business model in the Haitian cacao industry is a big deal. It will support improved livelihoods. It will contribute to economic recovery and stability. It will help to reduce deforestation.
We will load a 14 metric ton container with cacao from our partners, Produits des Iles S.A (PISA). PISA is a new cacao exporter that works with over 1,500 cacao farmers in northern Haiti. These growers have been exploited by intermediaries, or zombies, as they are known locally, who pay low prices and do not provide market stability. PISA offers a meaningful alternative. They reward high quality cacao by paying premium prices, they deliver training in sustainable production, and they have established a seedling nursery to help farmers expand their production.
When we met PISA’s leadership team last fall, they were searching for a partner to provide premium market access. PISA recognized a natural partner in Taza Chocolate, because of our groundbreaking work in the cacao and chocolate making industry. Taza’s mission is to make and share stone ground chocolate that is seriously good and fair for all. We have always said no to predatory middlemen and abusive labor practices. We created the chocolate industry’s first third-party certified Direct Trade cacao sourcing program, to ensure quality and transparency for all. We have real, face-to-face relationships with growers who respect the environment and fair labor practices. They provide us with the best organic cacao, and we pay them prices significantly higher than Fair Trade. You can see exactly what we pay our growers, in our groundbreaking Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Reports.
For years now, most stories coming out of Haiti have been centered on the terrible earthquake and largely ineffective aid programs. The PISA-Taza partnership represents a new story— one of economic opportunity and growth driven by hard working Haitian farmers and committed supply chain partners. Ultimately, our vision is that this opportunity creates serious change and seriously good chocolate.
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