Tag Archives: biodiversity

The Brazilian Forest Chocolate

Although Brazil is one of the world’s top producers of cacao, Brazilian chocolate, on the other hand, has received very little attention. The common, everyday chocolate found on market shelves in Brazil is formulated with a higher fat content to add flavor and has less cacao compared to chocolate found in the U.S. and Europe. To put it frankly, even the most desperate chocolate connoisseur wouldn’t get near the stuff.


The cacao trees are planted in the shadow of the Atlantic rainforest. In each area, there’s an emphasis on maximizing fruits and plants grown there, through the process of pollination. For example, the jupará is a monkey that eats cacao and throws the pits around the forest. This monkey is a big proponent of cacao, just like the birds. In accordance with each species, specific flowers are pollinated and widespread throughout the areas, so there’s a combination of new elements. Man also influences things. Various trees of diverse fruits are planted together with cacao. In the end, when it’s time to taste the chocolate, an educated palate can recognize the complexity.

What are the challenges you faced in maintaining everything organic?

In the beginning, the resistance of the old farmers, resistant to accept that our methods gave results. I’m talking about the workers at the farms. But soon, they saw that the fruits were healthier. Today, the farmers believe in organic management and use our methods. There’s an evident rebirth in the region, through the organic culture.

What benefits do your workers receive?

On the farms, workers are our partners, so we share the profits of our sales. In the factory, we have 20 workers. There, as well, we want everyone to take part in the profits.

Why the sudden push now in Brazil for better quality chocolate?

Premium chocolate, or terroir, appeared in the last nine, 10 years. With Amma, things began to change when we started planting organic cocoa, also during that same time. The Brazilian rainforest has the biggest biodiversity per square meter on the planet. And our cocoa is planted in its shade. We have in the composition of our fruits, the essence of the richest elements on Earth!

AmmaChocolates-image-4 AmmaChocolates-image5

“Our chocolate is organically elaborated from beans coming from trees planted beneath the shade of the Atlantic Rainforest, in the South of Bahia – the biggest biodiversity per square meter in the planet. The cacao beans that will soon become AMMA’s sophisticated chocolate are selected in the Rio de Contas valley, in Itacaré, Bahia, Brazil. These beans, children of the rainforest and its biodiversity, give rise to the rich nuances characterizing AMMA’s flavor.”

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Chocolate Forever 11 Remarkable sustainability initiatives.


To adequately cocer the breadth and variety of vosions on sustainability in the Netherlands, it is necessary to expand the scope of this study to some remarkable, smaller-scale initiatives. These initiatives are remarkable because they move beyond securing supply and help to push the sustainability debate further. They take place in different segments of the chain and are not primarly driven by risks or regulation; instead they are the result of search for alternatives and smart ways of achieving sustainability in the cocoa chain. This section will also discuss how local circumstances can either stimulate or hinder these initiatives. It will not cover all of important sustainability cocoa initiatives in the Netherlands, but it will provide a good overview of key projects. A disinction will be made between the different initiatives of SMEs, conventional players, and other actors actively involved in the production of organic cocoa.

In this section just one important show a determined commitment and drive to manufacture the best product, and bear the responsibility of achieving sustainability in the cocoa chain.

The restoring economy of Original Beans.


Original Beans was founded on the idea of building a restoring economy on the basis of consumption. Because we define sustainability as leaving a situation as you have found it, it is not sufficient to produce as responsibly as possible because there is Always damage inficted. Therefore, we must restore the damage we do in the entire chain. (R.Nickels, OB 2010)

Original Beans is a small chocolate company, founded in 2008 on the idea that ‘what we consume we must replenish’. Although this seems like a simple idea, implementing it is a big challenge. Original Beans begins by using a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify the footprint of the entire chain from production until the package is discarded in the rubbish bin. This macroanalysis is used to analyse the environmental damage in terms of energy, water, and waste.

By employing the LCA method, Original Beans learned that the main environmental damage in the cocoa chain take place in three different phases: production, processing, and packaging. Cocoa production in origin countries goes hand-in-hand with land conversion: the resulting deforestation is a major contributor to CO2 emissions.Other pollutants are the pesticides and artificial fertilizer used during the production phase. As a carbon intensive process, also cocoa processing entails environmental costs. The packaging material used for wrapping chocolate is made from fossil fuels and is not biodegradable; the glue and inkt contain the toxic substances toluene and cadmium respectively. Currently, Original Beans is now using fully biodegradable foil for its chocolate bars (2012).

The LCA does provide insight in environmental issues but it does not directly address economic concerns. For viable economic options fundamental choises have be made on where you get cocoa from. Original Beans’ policy is to exclusively source from forest systems, while respecting the diversity of trees and making sure that cocoa production in the forest does not adversely affect the carrying capacity of the forest. This is achieved primarly by replanting trees without using pesticides or artificial fertilizers.  For every bar of chocolate sold, local community farmers plant a tree that will support the forest – not just the rare cacao trees, but various species of trees that are neccesary for maintaining a healty biodiversity. Eventually the farmer is paid a fair price both for producing cocoa and for his work in these environmental services. New cocoa trees generate immediate revenu for the farmers, and the some of the other trees (e.g., teak) are an investment that will yield income in the future.

In the production phase, Original Beans works directly with cocoa farmers and is actively involved in organising them. Currently, Original Beans is exploring the possibility of sourcing Ecuadorian cocoa, produced by indigenous people living in the rain forest, which requires establishing a knowledge infrastructure. In this example, Original Beans works together with the Progreso fund and program, a leading network for hands-on business development assistance to smallholder farmers. In Congo, Original Beans buys EKO certfied cocoa from a local cocoa trader that works together with the Dutch Louis Bolk Institute (Agro Eco). Around 10.000 farmers are involved in this business. In Congo, Original Beans is supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), a federally owned organisation in Germany and the Dutch Foundation DOEN. The goal is to stimulate larger companies to source high quality cocoa from Congo.

In tackling the technical issues involved in processing and packaging, Original Beans works together with different partners, both Dutch and international. These partners are mainly companies that supply packaging or are involved in the processing of cocoa used by Original Beans. Thse are traditional companies that need to be additionally stimulated to change their customary business practices. As a client, Original Beans provides this incentive. According to Philipp Kaufmann, Their suppliers of packaging and cocoa products have become convinced about the potential of improving their business through more environmentally friendly practices, and are exploring the use of alternative sources of energy, for example, using energy from windmills or water turbines by a processor.


We should look at the result farmers get per effort instead of result per hectare.

next time: problems with knowledge application


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