TAZA CHOCOLATE DIRECT TRADE CERTIFIED CACAO
We are chocolate pioneers.
Taza makes stone ground chocolate that is seriously good and fair for all. From farm to factory, we do things differently.
We do things transparently.
It starts with Taza Direct Trade. We said no to opaque supply chains and low-quality cacao. 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 partners 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. In fact, you can see exactly what we pay them, right here in our 2019 Annual Cacao Sourcing Transparency Report.
Taza Direct Trade means more money for our partners, the best cacao for us, and seriously good chocolate for you.
THIRD PARTY CERTIFICATION
We’re serious about transparency and trust. To guarantee the integrity of our Direct Trade program, our five Direct Trade claims are independently verified each year by Quality Certification Services, a USDA-accredited organic certifier based in Gainesville, Florida. See our five verified claims here.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Direct - not Do It Alone - Trade
By Jesse Last, Taza Chocolate Director of Sourcing & Strategic Initiatives | December 2019
Taza grows close to our Partner cacao producers and processors. Together we visit farms, negotiate prices, introduce our families, improve quality, tour Taza’s factory and Boston’s harbor. Taza features our Partners in our Transparency Reports, but if we give the impression they are the only relevant actors in Direct Trade, we need to add to the story.
In reality, visible and invisible forces influence and mediate each Direct Trade relationship. Insects pollinate pods, certifiers inspect organic farms, clouds drop rain, governments regulate markets, spores attack trees, ships transport containers of cacao, consumers buy more or less chocolate. While the full range of influences is too broad and complex to tackle in a Year in Review, I hope focusing on three less obvious ones - Government, Logistics, and Climate - provides a more complete and colorful picture.
Government. Our Ghanian cacao was scheduled to arrive in early 2019. The farmers grew, fermented and dried the beans on time, but they ended up in Europe due to miscommunication between our Partner ABOCFA and the government export agency. Later in the year in Haiti, tens of thousands of citizens organized strikes and marches to hold authorities accountable for poor governance and corruption. Our Partner PISA suspended operations until the protests abated.
Taza had enough cacao inventory to keep our chocolate factory humming until the delayed beans arrived, and the lesson is not that government impairs our Partnerships. Like all trade, Direct Trade depends on laws, institutions and stability for business to go smoothly. When government does not provide these, we’re reminded how much it matters.
Logistics. Logistical expertise is needed to move containers of cacao across oceans and borders. A small business like Taza could negotiate rates with shipping lines, fill out customs paperwork, coordinate the loading and unloading of cacao, buy warehouse space and so forth. But it would be a big burden, and when a third-party specializes in these logistics, it saves Taza money, time and headache. For nearly 15 years, Atlantic Cocoa Company and USA Head Trader Rich Falotico have been Taza’s logistics aspirin, managing these critical steps on Taza’s behalf.
Climate. Cacao trees grow best in a wet and warm environment. Ideally, the trees receive steady rainfall throughout the year: too little and they produce fewer and smaller pods, too much and their tiny flowers (the future pods) are knocked off the branches. For several years, our Partners have observed changing weather patterns including harsher storms and more severe droughts.
This summer, dry heat stretched across Haiti and the Dominican Republic’s island of Hispaniola. Three of our four Direct Trade Partners suffered lower yields. The Partner who did not suffer drought, Finca Elvesia in the Dominican Republic’s eastern region, was buffered by the wet tropical forests of the neighboring Los Haitises National Park. As climate change intensifies, natural ecosystems like this one become ever more important allies in Direct Trade.
In the food business, we’re often told to simplify the sourcing story: one charismatic chocolate maker shaking hands with one industrious farmer, two partners conquering the food world together. Transparency reveals a more complex reality: interwoven ecosystems and institutions underpinning the production and transport of organic cacao from farm to factory. We focus on our Partners as the protagonists in our sourcing story, but we deeply appreciate these other actors’ contributions to Direct Trade.
Yours in Transparency,
2019 PARTNER REPORTS
ÖKO Caribe Cacao
ÖKO Caribe Cacao