New Internationalist

Just chocolate

Issue 385

Revolution in a wrapper

‘Yummy,’ giggles Christiana, a German medical student who confesses that she has eaten three or more in the past week. Her friend agrees. ‘I love the stuff,’ says Julia, smiling a naughty smile. ‘It’s the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted!’

Walking along Grand Anse beach, a magnificent stretch of pristine Caribbean sand that frames St George’s, Grenada’s capital city, it seems that everyone is in agreement. But this scandalously good chocolate isn’t from Switzerland, Belgium or France. This is 100-per-cent home-grown Grenadian, from bean to bar. Which, of course, makes it rather unique. Using fair-trade, hand-sorted, organic cocoa beans in a solar-powered factory no larger than a typical Caribbean home, the Grenada Chocolate Company has been making chocolate for over four years now, the only company in the Caribbean to do so despite the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean together produce almost 80 per cent of the world’s supply of ‘fine’ or ‘flavoured’ cocoa. In fact it is one of only a handful of companies in the world to produce chocolate in a country in which cocoa is actually grown.

‘We are trying to challenge the notion that small developing countries need rely on the export of primary products,’ says Marc Green, founder of the company. ‘That’s why we believe that what we are doing is truly revolutionary.’

Guided by the ‘small is beautiful’ philosophy of EF Schumacher, Green has built a successful business that now exports to Europe and North America. But he has no interest in building a little empire, even though the signs are that it is there for the taking. His company produces around 1,500 bars per week, in sharp contrast to the 1.6 million bars produced every week by just one of Cadbury’s giant factories. Green, however, does not like the comparison. ‘Our product is light years away from Cadbury’s,’ he says, which is true when you consider that it was only in 2000 that British chocolate manufacturers won a 30-year battle to call their products – which are notoriously high in vegetable fat and low in cocoa – ‘chocolate’ in the European Union (one alternative name proposed was ‘vegelate’).

To date, Green has had requests from small companies in Colombia, Madagascar, Ghana, Nigeria, Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, all wishing to learn from the success of the Grenada Chocolate Company. Green is happy to help those who wish to learn from his success, seeing this as more of an activist project than a business.

This home-grown fair-trade organic product may yet spawn many copies around the world – and is living proof that countries such as Grenada can manufacture and export a world-class product every bit as good as the finest made in Europe or America. Lindt, Godiva, watch out!

Dylan Mathews

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