Is UP-UP Fairtrade or Organic?

In the ten years we’ve worked in the chocolate industry on our sister chocolate brand COCO, we became increasingly frustrated with certifications like fair trade and organic, as we didn’t feel it necessarily solved some of the biggest challenges in the supply chain, like forced labour and child labour. We feel that adhering with slavefreetrade’s 10 Principles for Decent Work we are actually moving the narrative onwards, but in a more meaningful, human-first direction. Our chocolate is not fair trade, because we don't work with the traditional model: we work with employees as opposed to smallholders. Fairtrade is essentially a premium, paid on top of the market price of cocoa, however, in order to be applicable you must be selling the raw material. We’re currently exploring however what an UP-UP premium would look like and amount to.

What do you mean by single estate?

If all your cocoa in a product comes from from one country, it’s called single-origin. If it’s from a region within a country, it’s called single-region. If it’s from a single plantation in a country, it’s called single-estate. In essence, it’s highly traceable cocoa.

Where is your cocoa sourced from?

The single-estate plantation that our cocoa is sourced from is called El Rosario. El Rosario sits on the Caribbean coast in the North of Colombia near a town called Necoclí. What makes it different is that the 200 people who work here are employees not smallholders. The advantage of this is that they have contacts, holiday pay, set minimum wages and a legal framework within which they work. In Colombia this is unusual, in the cocoa industry even more so. (They also use temps when it gets busy, but they have the same employmnet rights as the employees and also have the opportunity to complet the survey). On the plantation cocoa beans are planted, harvested, fermented, dried, bagged and got ready for transportation to Bogotá and the second workplace in our supply chain.

Where is the cocoa processed?

From the plantation, our beans travel in 50 kilo sacks, right to the heart of the country, to Bogotá, where they are processed by Luker Chocolate Luker, a Colombian family business with over 100 years of history. At this factory the beans are processed into couverture (giant chocolate buttons). Famously this processing piece is done in Belgium and Switzerland, however for us there’s a clear value in keeping more wealth of the product in the origin site before it's exported. From Colombia, the couverture sails by container to our Edinburgh waterside factory. With that couverture our chocolatiers develop recipes, then we temper the couverture, flavour it and craft it into moulds before packaging into bars, ready for you.

You’ve certified the cocoa, what’s next?

Looking at the huge issue of child labour in the the cocoa industry, it made sense to kick off our journey by certifying the cocoa in our bars. Next will be the sugar, and last in line milk. For us the key is honesty, showing you our consumer, where we’re at, and where we’re going.