What’s all the buzz on fair trade chocolate these days? Well, for one, it’s a pandemic and our consumption rates are straining farmers. With that, there’s an increased call to mitigate carbon emissions in supply chains. But with everything we’re doing trying to lower carbon footprints and reduce single-use plastic at home, we’ve forgotten the essential element.
Preventing childhood labor and advocating for inclusive women’s empowerment means buying from chocolate companies that are allies.
We’ve found the best fair trade chocolate compaines that you can feel good about supporting (and eating).
Taking care of our planet requires allyship for people in cocoa-producing countries. To secure forest and rainforest habitats, we’ve got to make wiser choices to avoid the “take-make-waste approach” and move to support both the farmer and their communities inclusively.
The Top 8 Most Ethically Produced Chocolate Bars and Cocoa
- Author’s Pick: Equal Exchange. Fairness to Farmers
- PNW Pick: Theo Chocolate. Community. Honesty. Excellence. Well-Being
- Climate Neutral Pick: Alter Eco. Enlightened Indulgence
- Endangered Species Pick: Beyond Good. Chocolate, Made Right
- Animal Lover’s Pick: Endangered Species. Real Chocolate with a True Impact
- Ending Slavery Pick: Tony’s Chocolonely. Be part of the sweet solution.
- Farmer’s Pick: Divine Chocolate. Securing a Sustainable Future of Cocoa and Cocoa Farming
- Family Pick: Guittard. Honorable Sourcing, Expert Crafting
A Closer Look at the Best Fair Trade Chocolate Brands
Up next we zoom in on the best organic fair trade chocolate, the best fair trade chocolate bars, the best organic fair trade dark chocolate, and the best fair trade cocoa powder. We combed through more brands than what’s on this list- and if we missed your favorite, contact us and let us know what else we need to include!
1. Equal Exchange
The Author’s Pick: Best Organic Fair Trade Chocolate
Equal Exchange: Fairness to Farmers | Product: Organic Coconut Milk | Certifications: Authentic Fair Trade, USDA Organic, Kosher, Vegan | Cocoa Certified: 100% | Size: 2.8 oz.
The Chocolate. Vegan-friendly, dairy-alternative chocolates make everyone happy! It’s creamy but not too coconut-y. And if you can’t buy them locally, you have the option of buying them in 24-packs… just sayin.
Collaborations. Green America Certified Business, Worker-Owned
Farmers and Communities. This LIST of Community Cooperatives and Partnerships. Equal Exchange is such an impressive company. Just one look at their partnerships page(s), and you’ll discover the mountain of advocacy for farmers and their communities globally.
For instance, Equal Exchange has been in partnership with the COCABO community in Panama for 11 years, so farmer-support and land resiliency investments run deep.
Environment. By promoting agroforestry and integrated canopy growth, farmers may not see as productive a crop, but they’ll see greater resiliency and environmental benefits. And that matters to Nilka Sanchez, Andrés Jiménez and Manuel Palacio, and their families.
2. Theo Chocolate
The Pacific Northwest Pick: Best Organic Fair Trade Chocolate Runner-Up
Theo Chocolate: Community. Honesty. Excellence. Well-Being | Product: Orange | Certifications: Fair for Life, USDA Organic, Kosher Dairy, non-GMO | Cocoa Certified: 100% | Size: 3.0 oz.
The Chocolate. Gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, kosher, and that perfect hint of orange in your chocolate.
Collaborations. Eastern Congo Initiative, Mountain Rose Herbs, Imlak’esh Organics, Eastern Congo Initiative
Farmers and Communities. ESCO Kivu, Watalinga Cocoa Farmers Association. Theo is committed to paying above the price floor to ensure farmers get the best pricing every year. View their Impact Report for a more detailed account. (You’ll need to download it.)
Discover how they’re improving childhood education, farmer training, and contributing to growing in-country infrastructures, reducing overall carbon emissions.
Environment. Investments towards reforestation. One issue popped up for me, but everything else is so excellent that I think it just needs some customer voices. The Impact Report says:
“Whenever available and possible, we are committed to choosing ingredients that are 100% soy and palm oil-free.”
It doesn’t say palm oil-free all of the time, but it could. **I’ve already sent my email ;).
3. Alter Eco
The Carbon Sequestration Pick: Best Organic Fair Trade Dark Chocolate
Alter Eco: Enlightened Indulgence | Product: Super Blackout | Certifications: Fair Trade Certified, USDA Organic, Gluten-Free, Climate Neutral, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) | Cocoa Certified: 100% | Size: 2.65 oz.
The Chocolate. There are four ingredients in the Theo Chocolate recipe: cacao beans from Ecuador, cocoa butter, raw cane sugar, and vanilla beans.
Collaborations. Certified B-Corp Corporation, Bay Area advocacy group OSC
Farmers and Community. Farmer Assistance, Unocace and Acopagro Cooperatives. Alter Eco supports cocoa farmers and the surrounding communities through its associations with various cooperatives. They’re also committed to paying at least 1.3x more than the price floor.
Environment. Palm Oil Free, via Certification, Agroforestry Investments, Sustainability Report. Alter Eco promotes better soil and crop health through regenerative agriculture methods and increased carbon sequestration, resulting in 100% carbon emissions offsets.
By using 100% compostable or recyclable materials, they’ll reach a net-zero carbon footprint overall.
4. Beyond Good
The Endangered Species Support Pick: Best Fair Trade Organic Dark Chocolate Runner-Up
Beyond Good: Chocolate, Made Right | Product: 80% Single Origin Madagascar Pure Dark Heirloom Chocolate | Certifications: Certified Direct Trade, USDA Organic, Kosher, and Non-GMO | Cocoa Certified: 100% Traceability | Size: 2.64 oz.
The Chocolate. Beyond Good’s Heirloom chocolate is farmed in Madagascar, while their Single Origin chocolate comes directly from Uganda. Snack on this semi-sweet, mild fruit (cranberry, cherry and raspberry) dark chocolate or use it in any of your grandma’s recipes that require some semi-sweet or bittersweet baking chocolate.
Collaborations. Built a factory in Madagascar to increase supply chain economics in-country. Conservation International, Bristol Zoo, Community of Bundibugyo, ICAM
Farmers and Communities. Beyond Good is reaching milestones to shorten the supply chain and go entirely “Direct Trade,” enabling more money to stay within Madagascar and Uganda. Farmers are encouraged to seek organic certification—a fee that can sometimes be problematic for farmers who don’t have the same support system as Beyond Good. Read The Buzz on Fair Trade Chocolate: Part Two to find out why.
Environment. Notice the cute little Lemur on the packaging? Lemurs are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to “slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging and charcoal production,” and the bushmeat trade.
Beyond Good supports the increase of sustainable agriculture to support the improvement of lemur populations.
5. Endangered Species Chocolate
The Animal Lovers Pick: Best Fair Trade Chocolate Bars
Endangered Species: Real Chocolate with a True Impact | Product: Organic Caramel Sea Salt + Dark Chocolate | Certifications: FairTrade®, Vegan, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, Kosher, Green-e | Cocoa Certified: 100% | Size: 3.0 oz.
The Chocolate. Smooth dark chocolate pairs with organic caramel and pink Himalayan sea salt to make your next favorite salted caramel option. They make every bar from reliable sources with certifications aplenty.
Collaborations. National Forest Foundation, Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund, African Wildlife Foundation, Xerces Society, See Turtles, Chimp Haven, Rainforest Trust, WCN
Farmers and Communities. Traceable products, 10% of Profits Donated to Animals, People & Habitat
Unlike the other companies in this list, Endangered Species doesn’t say much about donations to people and their communities, but their certifications offer valuable insight.
Environment. Check out the Impact Report or watch this YouTube video to see where $2.17 million has gone to support endangered species and their habitats. Efforts to end deforestation have been front and center for decades.
6. Tony’s Chocolonely
The Mission to End Slavery Pick: Best Fair Trade Chocolate Bars Runner-Up
Tony’s Chocolonely: Be part of the sweet solution | Product: Dark Pecan Coconut 51% | Certifications: Fairtrade Certified, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) | Cocoa Certified: n/a | Size: 6.35 oz. | Price: 5.95
The Chocolate. The Dark Pecan bar is made from cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, pecans, grated coconut and soy lecithin. It’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and personally, it is my second favorite bar on the list. I mean, who doesn’t love Tony’s chocolate?!
Collaborations. You… Click and sign the petition against child labor and modern slavery. Certified B-Corp Corporation, Green Mighty Earth, Ethical Consumer, Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), JustDiggit, Good Shipping, The Chocoloney Foundation, UNSGDs:
Farmers and Communities. ABOCFA, Kapatchiva, ECAM, ECOJAD and SOCOOPACDI cooperatives. Tony’s Chocolonely is transparent about any instances they find regarding child labor in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire communities. In one year alone, they discovered 387 cases and remediated 221.
Their work ending hunger, increase food security, end slavery, build equity and inclusivity in trade speaks loudly, but not all solutions come quickly.
Environment. Good things spill over in multiple directions anytime you get an agency wrapped up in people and their communities’ health, wellness, and education. That’s where membership in the Forest Stewardship Council comes into play. Properly managing the forests for future generations just echoes the ambition to care for the people in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
7. Divine Cocoa
The Farmer-Owned Pick: Best Fair Trade Cocoa Powder
Divine Chocolate: Securing a Sustainable Future of Cocoa and Cocoa Farming | Product: Cocoa Powder | Certification: Fairtrade® | Cocoa Certified: 100% | Size: 4.4 oz.
The Chocolate. Divine Chocolate’s cocoa powder is crafted without artificial flavors, GMOs, palm oil or soy; it’s manufactured as vegan but may contain traces of milk from the manufacturing facility. It’s also traded in compliance with Fairtrade Standards.
Collaborations. World Fair Trade Organization, Certified B-Corp Corporation, Certified Social Enterprise, CECAQ-11, Ngoleagorbu Cocoa Farmers Union, Kasinthula Cane Growers Association
Farmers and Communities. The Kuapa Kokoo Co-op Co-Owns 45% (as of this post) of the corporation and champions women farmers. Their yearly Impact Report highlights successful projects with strategic returns of 2% to advocate for women’s empowerment and other important equitable social justice issues which benefit communities and local economies.
Environment. Farm Investing for Climate Friendly Initiatives and Rainforest Protections in Sierra Leone. Divine Chocolate collates data for sustainable agricultural practices, improving productivity inside sustainable farms to ensure profitable prospects.
The Family Business Pick: Best Fair Trade Cocoa Powder Runner-Up
Guittard: Honorable Sourcing, Expert Crafting | Product: Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder | Certification: Fair Trade Certified, Non-GMO Certified | Cocoa Certified: 100% | Size: 8 oz.
The Chocolate. Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge Powder works for both baking and drinking. Its unsweetened, rich, deep red and fudgy flavor invite you to make the most decadent pastries. Plus, Guittard’s chocolates are all single-origin, boosting the terroir’s flavor impact.
Collaborations. Supports World Cocoa Foundation, Cultivate Better Cocoa™, Investments in Agroforestry, Rainforest Alliance
Farmers and Communities. Guittard supports farmers’ livelihood to positively impact the entire community by improving social conditions and environmental protections while simultaneously advocating for women’s empowerment.
Pursuing gender equality and income diversification encourages the health, wellness and viability of each community. At the same time, at-risk children are identified through monitoring programs to remediate potential child labor outcomes.
Environment. Environmental Stewardship practices improve agroforestry training, preservation, and reforestation to build climate resilience.
Phew! It seems like there was so much more to look up than to read, right? Head on over to The Buzz on Fair Trade Chocolate: Part Two to clear up all those definitions and find out how single-origin, fair trade, direct trade, farming cooperatives, and B-Corps (and more) matter in the making of your chocolate.
Meet Your Author
Amy Wolkenhauer has been a full-time freelance writer since 2014. Her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainability complement each other.
Combined, these degrees provide her with the communication tools necessary to create tangible links between scientists, stakeholders, marketplace & policy actors with communities everywhere.