Divine: chocolate like no other!

* 4 min read

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Gillian has selected Divine, the only chocolate company that gives its profits back to the farmers as the next brand to join the Sustainability Pioneers series.

 

 

You may recognise Divine by its beautiful, decorative wrappers, its organic range or for its Fairtrade certification. But did you know it is the only chocolate company that gives its profits back to the farmers that grow the cocoa beans?

Divine Chocolate launched in the UK over 20 years ago, and instead of targeting niche markets it decided to produce mainstream Fairtrade chocolate. What makes Divine different to all competitors, is its ownership model. It is 44% owned by the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmers’ co-operative in Ghana. The Kuapa Kokoo have a motto “Pa Pa Paa” which translated from their local Twi language means “the best of the best” and who can argue! Great chocolate with a unique business model.

To be honest their business model is more like a social mission, with gender equality being one of the issues it faced head on. Of the 100,000 Kuapa Kokoo farmers, more than a third of them are women. With Kuapa Kokoo, Divine gave female farmers a voice, and actively empowered them to develop the skills and confidence to grow better cocoa, thrive in business and make a dignified living.

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Not content with just its unique business model, in 2016 Divine was certified as a B Corp. This is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance, not just in terms of the product but in all aspects. The passion behind Divine not only empowers the farmers but also sets an example for others to do business differently. If this isn’t an example of true sustainability then I’m not sure what is, and thankfully they haven’t forgotten about their packaging.

As you would expect, Divine are committed to sustainable packaging. All its paper and board is FSC certified, cellophane has been removed where possible and their Easter Egg packaging has been reduced and is plastic free. Importantly Divine has also taken than important step back and assessed its supply chain, cutting down on ‘chocolate miles’ and sourcing (almost all) of its seasonal packaging locally in the UK.

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The unique ownership structure and Fairtrade status of Divine drove most of the early marketing activity, with one high-profile campaign showing some of female Ghanaian farmers that work in Kuapa Kokoo. Although attention grabbing and certainly very different to competing brands advertising, I’m not sure it really did the chocolate justice. Its business model unfortunately is not the reason people buy chocolate. There are a lot of chocolate lovers out there giving into temptation, me being one of them! I love Fairtrade and I fully support equality and if the chocolate of my choice tasted amazing AND was Fairtrade certified AND had strong ethical values then there would be no choice to make.

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Thankfully in 2019 ‘Owned by cocoa farmers. Made for chocolate lovers’ became Divine’s new slogan which I think creates the perfect balance. Balance is everything, from work/life balance to balancing people, planet and profit. However – getting the right balance can sometimes take time, and several attempts.
GC1Gillian Garside-Wight

I’m lucky in so many ways, my passion for sustainability fits easily within my work and as a family we love nature so all areas of my life blend nicely together (most of the time). At work, my passion for all things sustainable also needs to turn a profit, however we do this responsibly as decent human beings, helping our clients to make the right choices. What I love about Divine is that it’s not only driven by a social mission, passionate about sustainability and pioneering in its business model, it is most definitely also about producing and selling great chocolate.

Key takeouts:
  • Be brave, but don’t lose sight of the end goal
  • Sustainability isn’t exclusive to big corporates
  • Passion drives change, people deliver, and profit enables
  • Empower others: it’s just the right thing to do!
  • Balance is everything: people, planet, and profit

 

The Author: Gillian Garside-Wight - Sustainability Partner

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