Africa produces 70% of the world’s chocolate and 60% of the world’s vanilla crop, yet the continent makes just 1% of finished chocolate bars, with very little profit getting back to the farmers themselves. Now, an innovative company is disrupting the market and using limitations to their advantage to make some of the world’s best chocolate--and make a difference in Madagascar.
Madecasse started in 2008 to do just that. It was started by former Peace Corps volunteers who had seen the farmers in action, and who knew the global marketplace brought just a small percentage of the profits from chocolate back to the farms.
The company, which was one of [i]Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2011, has recently moved to make the chocolate culture of Madagascar even stronger: It rediscovered species of cocoa that were previously thought to be extinct. The company says that the discovery highlights the plight of the country, which is an environmental hotspot where 80% of flora and fauna are found nowhere else in the world. Cocoa farms can contribute to conservation practices because they provide shade and are often a buffer zone close to protected areas.
“We’ve gotten good at turning disadvantages to our advantage,” explains Tim McCollum, one of Madecasse’s founders. “Our model and our philosophy mandates that everything in our chocolate is going to come from Madagascar. That has forced us to be more innovative, and seek some innovative flavors that haven’t been done before, like pink pepper and citrus in a chocolate bar.”read entire article