Salt of the Earth: the remarkable story of Divine Chocolate

Fairtrade and part owned by cocoa farmers, Divine Chocolate isn’t just delicious: it’s changing the world – and maybe even our bodies – for the better.

Photo: Kim Naylor

Photo: Kim Naylor

There’s something beguiling about the combination of salty and sweet. When these contradictory flavours meet they become a tangle of taste that’s simply irresistible. But while salted caramel and peanut butter cups are special in their own ways, Divine Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Salt is in a league all its own.

Made with the finest Fairtrade dark chocolate and Himalayan salt – formed 250m years ago from ancient, unpolluted sea beds – it’s more than a midnight snack or 3pm treat. Completely Fairtrade and packed with all 84 elements found in the human body, this chocolate bar is as good for the world as it is for you.

The road to wellbeing

Co-operative member, Juliet Brago Awaham

Co-operative member, Juliet Brago Awaham

The inspiring story of Divine Chocolate starts in the 1990s, when the cocoa market in Ghana was in the midst of a massive shift.

With new roads being constructed to ease the transportation and sale of cocoa, and producer prices only getting higher thanks to reforms by the Ghana Cocoa Board, one enterprising group of farmers saw an opportunity. Led by Nana Frimpong Abrebrese, a visionary farmer representative, they pooled their resources and established Kuapa Kokoo.

A co-op, Kuapa Kokoo trades its own cocoa, weighing, bagging and transporting cocoa to market for all of its members. Seeing the democratic, transparent and efficient way that the co-op was operating, its numbers swelled; now more than 80,000 people are proud to call themselves members, and Kuapa Kokoo produces up to 5 per cent of the chocolate that Ghana exports. 

As Esther Ephraim, a member of Kuapa Kokoo, says: “Our motto is Kuapa – pa pa paa, which literally means ‘Kuapa – best of the best.”

In 1997, the cocoa farmers of Kuapa Kokoo took an unprecedented step: they voted to invest in their very own chocolate bar. The result of that incredible decision is the chocolate bar in September's box this month.

Kuapa Kokoo owns 44 per cent of Divine Chocolate, has two members on the board and a very real say in what direction the company takes; one out of every four board meetings is held in Ghana so that co-op members can attend. That means the farmers benefit both from Fairtrade pricing for their goods and, as shareholders, get a share of the company profits.

As Sophi Tranchell, managing director of Divine, says: “We have enabled a real connection between farmers and consumers and empowered both. The former have been able to control and invest in their own futures, the latter to make choices that make a difference – and enjoy fantastic chocolate at the same time!”

A Fairer World

Kuapa farmer, Ama Kade | Photo: Pete Pattisson

Kuapa farmer, Ama Kade | Photo: Pete Pattisson

Divine Chocolate is proud to bear the Fairtrade stamp, an independent certification that assures everyone involved in the making of a product – including the farmers at the very end of the supply chain – are paid fairly for their labour­. Fairtrade also signifies a commitment to sustainability and improved social standards.

As Sophi says, “Fairtrade certification is one of the most established and most recognised product certifications in the world. It is also the only one that is truly farmer-focussed; in particular farmer remuneration and farmers having a significant involvement in the governance of the system.”

For the members of Kuapa Kokoo that means a commitment to developing environmentally friendly ways of growing and transporting cocoa, increasing women’s participations at every stage of the process – including the high-level administrative activity at the top of the organisation – and empowering farmers in their efforts to establish stable, dignified livelihoods.

Thanks in part to the success of Divine, around 11 per cent of the chocolate sold in the UK is now Fairtrade, and public interest is only growing. But the part-ownership by the farmers is something unique to Divine.

This ownership is reflected in all parts of Divine, from its company values to its board of directors. And, of course, the chocolate itself.

As Esther explains: “The African symbols on Divine Chocolate packages represent popular African proverbs and maxims, record historical events, express particular attitudes or behaviours related to depicted figures or concepts uniquely related to abstract shapes. The symbols can also be used to communicate evocative messages that represent part of African life and those around them. All these portray the rich African culture.”

3 reasons to feel good about Divine Chocolate's Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Salt Bar

1. Both major ingredients are chock full of minerals

Not only are dark chocolate and pink Himalayan salt totally delicious, but they’re also both chock full of amazing minerals. Pink Himalayan salt, for its part, contains all 84 of the elements that occur naturally in the human body. Everything from calcium and potassium to fluoride and iron are contained in these little pink crystals.

Dark chocolate’s roll call includes potassium, zinc and selenium – not to mention lots of iron. In fact, one 100g bar of 70% dark chocolate has 67% of your recommended daily dose.

2. Every ingredient is ethically sourced

There are four major ingredients in the Divine Chocolate bar: cocoa, pink salt, vanilla and sugar. All of these have been sourced fairly and ethically. Of course the cocoa comes from the amazing Kuapa Kokoo co-op in Ghana. The sugar comes from a similar co-op in Malawi, while the vanilla is sourced from Fairtrade farmers in Madagascar. The pink salt is hand-mined in the Punjab province of Pakistan, in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.

3. It’s all natural – and suitable for vegans!

The Divine Chocolate bar in this month's box is free from palm oil, genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavouring and colouring and preservatives. It’s also vegetarian and suitable for vegans – though keep in mind that it’s manufactured in an environment where milk is used.

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