I'm sure very few chocolate lovers have looked beyond the bar at the cocoa supply chain. One aspect rarely discussed is the colossal amount of food miles cocoa typically travels between farm and shop. Cocoa generally grows within ten degrees of the equator, so to get it to Blighty, that involves a trip by plane, or more commonly by container ship. When you consider the global chocolate industry was worth around £34 billion in 2019, that's an astronomical volume of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, just for our sweet pleasure.
According to Cornish bean-to-bar maker Chocolarder, a shipment of cocoa from Columbia by container ship to Falmouth creates the equivalent of just under 2,000kg of CO2, while sending the same shipment by air freight would emit a colossal 178,000 kg of CO2!
Now, Chocolarder and Fortnum & Mason have both sought a more environmentally-friendly way to source their chocolate, and have both turned to sailboats.
London's Fortnum & Mason has launched its chocolate "99% emission-free" Sailboat Chocolate. The chocolate is sourced through The Grenada Chocolate Company, an organic cocoa farmers’ and chocolate-makers' cooperative, and is shipped by sailboat to the UK via Ireland.
The chocolate travelled from the Caribbean to Piccadilly using transport that created as few emissions as possible. Besides sailboat, the supply chain included the use of an electric van as well as a horse and cart.
It began with the Trinitario cocoa beans, which grew in a lush, managed rainforest. The beans were processed in a solar powered factory on the island. A total of 350kg of chocolate was produced in this batch, spanning fourteen 25kg blocks. These were sailed from Grenada to Den Helder in The Netherlands by FairTransport upon the sailing boat Tres Hombres. From here, Silvery Light Sailing used T/S Britta to ship it to Carlingford Lough in Ireland.
In Ireland, the blocks headed onwards to NearyNógs by horse and cart, where the blocks were transformed into chocolate shards in their solar-powered factory. Once sealed inside recyclable, biodegradable packaging, the bars headed to Piccadilly. Sailboat Klevia transported the bars from Ireland to Bangor in North Wales, before an electric van completed the journey to London.
The result of this exhaustive team effort is chocolate that has incurred very few impactful food miles on the environment.
A three-pouch pack is £24.95 and is available in the Piccadilly store or online here. The gift box contains 60g pouches of fairly-farmed, triple fermented, and sun-dried 71%, 85% and 100% dark chocolate bark.
The 71% chocolate exhibits floral and fruity aromas, while the 85% shards introduce rich aromas of tobacco and leather . The 100% bark combines rich, earthy cocoa notes with a deep and fruity finish.
Fortnum & Mason Sailboat Chocolate Gift Box
Arhuaco, Sierra Nevada, Columbia
Meanwhile, Chocolarder's cocoa comes from Sierra Nevada, Columbia. The region is home to 50,000 residents spread across 52 settlements. The area boasts a biodiverse rainforest and is inhabited by three indigenous communities, including the Arhuaco people.
The cocoa was transported from Santa Marta to Falmouth onboard Blue Schooner Company's De Gallant, which used sail power for its entire transatlantic journey. The beans were turned into chocolate using antique machinery and renewable power. The bars are then sealed in plastic-free packaging.
Chocolarder's Arhuaco bars are available in 50% milk chocolate (£6) and vegan-friendly 67% dark chocolate (£6) variants. The dark chocolate exhibits tasting notes of sweet toasted bran and mixed citrus, while the milk chocolate serves up malty notes alongside hints of strawberry and cream.
Chocolarder has also created a range of mocha truffles (£16.50; 12 pieces) using the 67% dark chocolate and coffee beans roasted by Yallah Coffee in Argal.
The 50% bar, 67% bar and 12-piece truffle box are also available as a Sailed Shipped Gift Box (£26).
Chocolarder Sail Shipped Bundle Gift Box
Should more cocoa be sail shipped across the oceans? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.