Small Craft Chocolate Makers Change Caribbean Cocoa Industry
Featuring Chris Brennan, Founder and Director, Pump Street Chocolate, UK
Chris Brennan, founder and director of Pump Street Chocolate, a Jamaican-born businessman living in the United Kingdom says small-craft (‘bean to bar’) chocolate-makers like himself have helped to liberalize the cocoa industry by insisting on good quality cocoa for their chocolate, paying reasonable prices for cocoa and cutting out the layers of middle-men in the industry. Pump Street Chocolate’s ‘Bean to Bar’ and direct trade practice is based on a short supply chain. The relatively short supply chain benefits both the growers and the consumers. Its success is built on good relationships with the chocolate consumer, chocolate maker and the farmer.
Chris knows that the chocolate bar he produces is as good as the quality of the cocoa he puts into it. A great deal of care goes into crafting Pump Street chocolate bars. So, he makes sure that he knows where his cocoa is grown and how it is harvested, processed and stored. He also informs his customers by distinctly labelling his chocolate according to the beans’ farm of origin. Cocoa farmers from three Caribbean countries supply cocoa to Chris. Considering that Chris is very particular about the quality of the ingredients that go into his premium chocolates which have won several excellence awards over the past four years, this is an achievement. These countries are Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.
Until eight to ten years ago, it was difficult for a chocolate maker to tell you where, when and how their cacao beans were harvested and even meet the farmer. In Jamaica and Grenada, the sale and export of cocoa were government-controlled while in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, cocoa was virtually non-existent as an industry. In Jamaica and Grenada, different grades from various small farm holdings were consolidated, processed, stored and sold in bulk at relatively low prices. Due to the tenacity and foresight of a few individuals in those islands who saw the potential in cocoa and the need to produce good quality and traceable cocoa, a new inclusive growth model was developed in the cocoa industry. The model is a good one!
Pump Street Chocolate contributes to this model which integrates values at the core of business practices. It is a model based on cocoa sustainability, traceability, fair and equitable treatment of farmers including paying a fair commodity price and equitable labour practices, safeguarding the environment and giving back to the communities they operate in.
By insisting on good quality cocoa for his chocolate, branding his chocolates by the farm, paying reasonable prices for cacao and cutting out brokers whose primary interest lie in selling volumes of cocoa, Chris has contributed to generating employment and developing a thriving and sustainable cocoa industry in the Caribbean. His chocolate also raises the visibility of Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada as good quality cacao bean suppliers for premium chocolate companies.
For more articles on sustainability and social engagement in the Caribbean, read our latest issue of ApaNa Magazine.
Issue 1 provides a range of technical articles covering the environment, climate change and renewable energy, corporate giving and features nonprofit organisations including CANARI, Junior Achievement Jamaica and RISE St.Lucia Inc