Awareness of the ugly side of the cocoa and chocolate industry is growing. News accounts of child labor–to some a polite term for slavery–have hit the newswires. More companies have acknowledged the negative effects of Big Chocolate’s impact on people and the planet. Hershey, for example, released their first corporate social responsibility (CSR) report last month, which was greeted with a collective yawn. Others growled and pressed Hershey to move towards an increased sourcing of fair trade chocolate.
Changing habits and consumer tastes, however, takes a while. One challenge fair trade manufacturers face here in the US is what many consumers consider to be “chocolate.” Dark chocolate has been touted for its bevy of antioxidants and its reported ability to reduce blood pressure. One San Diego based company believes it has struck the balance between its commitment to ethically sourced cocoa while satisfying Americans’ taste buds.
Angell Organic Candy Bars is the brainchild of husband-and-wife founders Christopher and Suzanne Angell. The couple has spent the last few years sorting out how they can blend the highest quality ingredients, commit to sustainable production, and find a competitive price point. They have also addressed another issue that confronts the snack industry: waste. The Angell’s pack the products in 100% recycled, 50% post consumer cardboard packaging, and ensure that their website runs on servers that hum on renewable energy. The parent company, Jungell, Inc., donates 1% to environmental organizations via One Percent For the Planet.
All of Angell’s Candy Bars are made from organic and fair trade certified ingredients. The Dark Angell, for example, has only one non-fair trade ingredient: the sea salt. But what are also important are what Angell left out: corn syrup, GMO ingredients, and anything grown with fertilizers or pesticides. Christopher Angell also explained the other challenge he faces: an industry that is reliant on disposable packaging and excessive marketing collateral.
Right now the candy bars come in three flavors, just in time for Halloween. The Dark Angell has a mixture of almonds and cocoa and surrounded by a dark chocolate–it pairs well with a good organic Malbec. A crispy rice variety, along with a white chocolate and coconut combination, are available, too, through Amazon.com and independent retailers. Stay tuned: a chocolate and peanut candy bar is on the way.
It has been a long road for Christopher Angell, who has worked for several NGOs in both New York and Johannesburg, and his wife, Suzanne. While Christopher handles the marketing, Suzanne is the CFO and ingredient arbiter–she recently returned from Ghana after a long trip evaluating farms and distributors. They are onto something: an indulgent snack that is guilt free, while continuing the tradition of new flavor combinations that keep the candy industry fun and whimsical for the rest of us.