The ﬁnest chocolate begins with cocoa beans that are sourced from around the world for their quality and sustainability. At Guittard, we select single origins for their exclusive ﬂavors and attributes and customize blends and formulas to deliver a premium chocolate experience. Guittard uses superior, shade-grown cacao because the delicate pods are protected from excessive direct sunlight during development. This practice also preserves the jungle environment surrounding the crops.
Cacao farming is an art unto itself. The careful handling of the crop from growing and harvesting to fermenting and drying are crucial steps in forming flavors. Our beans come from small farms where generations of farmers have carried on the long tradition, providing a livelihood for their families by cultivating flavorful beans that make their way into our chocolate. Guittard works closely with cacao growers to develop desired chocolate flavors in the beans from managing the health of the delicate trees and harvesting techniques, to ideal and consistent fermentation and drying processes.
Forastero is also often characterized by strong chocolate flavors. The rarified Nacional Forastero, grown in north-central Ecuador, is known in particular for its powerful yet floral notes.
Several types of Criollos and natural Criollo crosses exist. While each may vary slightly, Criollo types all share pale white cotyledons, the round bean shape and complex yet mellow flavor.
Recognizable by their pinkish interiors, they also have the potential to combine in flavor some of the complexity of Criollos with the flavor intensity of Forasteros.
Guittard has been in chocolate business for five generations, and we’re committed to protecting the rich, unique, and diverse flavors of cocoa from around the world. As farmers and industry strive for higher yields and disease resistance, we play a critical role in training and empowering cocoa breeders in producing countries to recognize and protect their historic flavor profiles. It’s about a quality end product—but it’s also about income generation for cocoa farmers. We focus on improving yields without compromising flavor.
The Don’t Mess with Our Chocolate campaign of 2007 prioritized the preservation, ﬂavor, rheology, and heritage of chocolate. This campaign, started by Gary Guittard, garnered over 30,000 signatures, convincing the FDA to keep non-cocoa vegetable fat out of its Standard of Identity for chocolate.
We believe that the end product is only as good as the ingredients that go into it. And by good, we mean not only flavor but also social integrity. For this reason, where we get our ingredients and the social conditions under which they are grown are central to our work—and integral to our definition of quality.
Certified Cocoa is one way we approach empowering farmers and farmer groups to instill best practices—both agricultural and social. Our Fair Trade Certified products for consumers and chefs underline our commitment to supporting farmer organizations and increasing farmer incomes.
Through our and our customers ongoing commitment to Fair Trade, we are able to make measurable differences through standards and programs, like the Fair Trade Community Development Premium. Farmer groups that are certified Fair Trade democratically decide how to use their premiums. Guittard’s premiums have supported these exciting projects:
The Oro Verde cooperative has used substantial amounts of Fair Trade premiums to finance "health days' for cocoa producers. During community health days, doctors and dentists visit difficult-to-reach communities and provide medical advice and necessary medication to co-op members, free of charge. All transportation costs and food are also covered using Fair Trade premiums, enabling even the most remote producers to attend.
Prior to the construction of an aqueduct, cocoa producers and their families in the Dominican Republic’s La Cuaba had to walk for over three hours to access potable water. Recognizing the physical toll this took on producers and their families, as well as the health-related consequences of having limited access to clean water, the Fair Trade cooperative CONACADO decided to use their Fair Trade premiums to construct an aqueduct and piping system, bringing potable water to over 450 families. Construction of the aqueduct also brought much-needed jobs to the region, further enhancing the benefit to the community.
In the Huafla village in Cote d’Ivoire, children used to have to walk seven kilometers (approximately two hours) in each direction to attend an overcrowded and understaffed regional primary school. Recognizing the need for an additional, more conveniently located school, the CORES cooperative used Fair Trade premiums to build a school for over 150 students, the majority of whom are children of cocoa producers. The six-classroom school is equipped with benches, tables, and chalkboards in a permanent structure that enables children to attend under any weather conditions.
Our domestic and overseas sugar farmers and suppliers use sustainable agricultural practices, enabling them to reduce the environmental footprint of growing and refining sugar without growing GMO crops.
By purchasing organic sugar and Fair Trade sugar, Guittard is supporting important environmental, social, and economic benefits for growers and their communities.
Grass-fed cows are happy cows. We’re fortunate to work with dairy suppliers who are committed to sustainable agriculture and dairy production and who don’t use growth hormones such a rBGH. We accept nothing less for our milk and white chocolates.
We use sunflower lecithin in all of our chocolate and chocolate products. While lecithin itself is a minor ingredient in our final product, sunflower lecithin provides an added health and wellness benefit that our customers were seeking and that we delivered upon.
Our palm oil suppliers are founding members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the leading organization dedicated to addressing the challenges around palm oil production. Now 2,789 members strong, RSPO certifies 21% of the world’s palm oil production.
Increasing yields through good agricultural practices is critical to helping cocoa farmers increase the long-term sustainability of their farms and of the cocoa-growing industry as a whole.
At Guittard, we travel regularly to cocoa producing countries to work with farmers, co-operatives, and suppliers on everything from improved planting material, crop diversification, and flavor analysis to better harvest and post-harvest handling, all of which optimize flavor, quality, and value. Through this important work, we’re empowering farmers to invest in their farms—and grow their incomes.
As farmers and industry strive for higher yields and disease resistance, Guittard plays a critical role in training and empowering cocoa breeders and farmers in producing countries to recognize and protect their historic flavor profiles. While we work on improving farmer incomes through good agricultural practices and superior planting material, our focus on flavor supports the value and market access for high quality cocoa.
Food security is a critical element of sustainable cocoa farming. We support The World Cocoa Foundation’s Cocoa Livelihoods Program, which is pioneering community programs that focus on education and training around crop diversification through food crops, such as cassava, yams, plantains, bananas, and corn.
These crop-diversification efforts have important impacts for cocoa farmers, including risk mitigation and income diversification, and help improve biodiversity in cocoa-growing areas.
Agroforestry practices provide cocoa farmers with resilience to climate change by promoting the planting of income generating hardwoods and other crops among cacao tress well as conservation of forests for both shade and soil health. For smallholder cocoa producers in Ghana, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices like these increase on-farm carbon storage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of our Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa comes from the Juabesco-Bia District of western Ghana—where CSA was implemented. These purchases helped improve capacities for farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change while simultaneously increasing productivity. The project focused on organizing individual farmers, establishing landscape management structures, diminishing pressures to further encroach on surrounding forestlands, and restoring ecosystems within cocoa agroforests and other degraded land-use systems while increasing cocoa production.
As a family-owned company, working closely with the communities and families from whom we purchase our beans is one of our top priorities. We’re committed to honorable sourcing throughout our supply chain and do not tolerate illegal practices, including child labor or unsafe working conditions for any member of the farming family.
We support child protection through our contributions to and active membership in the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), an organization that promotes child protection in cocoa-growing communities on the local, national, and international levels. ICI develops programs that educate and build awareness around child-labor mitigation and remediation.
Together, the cocoa industry, NGOs, local governments, the US government and nonprofit groups are developing initiatives that scale and can be integrated into commercial supply chains, reducing poverty and improving the social conditions and livelihoods within cocoa communities in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
We comply with California’s Transparency in Supply Chains Act SB 657, auditing our suppliers regularly.
While building awareness around child labor in communities is key, building capacity for long-term solutions is imperative. One of the most important pieces of this very complex issue is education.
Education is the key to long-term success in the cocoa-growing industry—success on the farm, success in the community, and successful, empowered children, women, and families. At Guittard, we see three key areas of education as central to our work.
Access to education, classrooms, and teachers, is a crucial component to supporting children and building strong communities. Families often live far from schools, making attendance challenging. Local governments are working to address this problem, but, until those programs take hold, Guittard supports initiatives that build capacity and lead to long-lasting change, through the World Cocoa Foundation’s Cocoa Livelihoods Program and our work with ICI and Fair Trade.
Literacy is a key to opportunity. It has an impact on alleviating poverty and improving health, empowerment and leadership. Increasing literacy rates among children as well as adults is core to building strong, resilient communities. Through our work with USAID funded program, Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solution (ECHOES), we supported the strengthening of cocoa-growing communities by expanding literacy opportunities for youth and young adults.
Cocoa farming is a family business. Many farmers cultivate the land their families have farmed for decades, and knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. Yet, understanding best practices is an ever-evolving process. Through field training and educational initiatives we support, such as the WCF's Cocoa Livelihoods Program and Africa Cocoa initiative, farmers continue to grow their knowledge and expertise, and can lead to higher yields, better flavor — and higher income.
Through our membership in ICI, we support action plans to bolster education in core cocoa-growing communities. In the 2015 season alone, ICI supported the construction of 121 new or renovated classrooms, over 1,000 tables and benches to furnish those classrooms, the addition of 20 new teachers, and 12 teachers’ accommodations, enabling 6,185 newly enrolled students to attend school, with robust systems in place for long-lasting success.
ECHOES served as a scalable model for education in rural West Africa, supporting 38 communities in Côte d’Ivoire, and 41 communities in Ghana. Over the course of the program, over 6,500 youth and adults received functional literacy training. Led by trained local tutors using a cocoa-specific functional literacy manual developed under a previous WCF member-supported pilot program, classes trained a total of 1,322 people in Ghana and 5,661 people in Côte d’Ivoire.
Through the World Cocoa Foundation’s African Cocoa Initiative (WCF/ACI), we contribute funds to train farmers in both Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. In 2014 alone, the WCF/ACI program trained 244 extension agents in Cote d’Ivoire (including 46 women). In Ghana, 39,496 farmers, including 10,846 women, received training in good agricultural practices for improved cocoa production. In Cameroon WCF/ACI developed an innovative "New Generation” cocoa farmer initiative brining new opportunity and to youth.
Gender inequality is a significant challenge within the cocoa sector. Traditional gender roles are at play throughout these farming communities, and training and resources for cocoa farmers often exclude women. This exclusion adversely impacts women and effects the overall well being and incomes of cocoa-growing households.
Through our participation in the World Cocoa Foundation’s Cocoa Livelihood Program, we’re helping women’s groups in co-ops across West Africa to establish secure food sources through crop diversification, business skill-building, and ongoing independence, enabling critical alternative revenue streams to flow into cocoa households between harvests.
Women are also receiving the skills necessary to improve and better manage farming activities, increasing their cocoa and overall food-crop production and generating more income, which is leading to greater economic empowerment and improving the welfare of the entire cocoa community.
And, by increasing the number of women in leadership roles in community groups and cooperatives, WCF is helping women gain visibility and empowerment in the cocoa industry.