Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is Certified Chocolate Better?

The Rainforest Alliance sent me a collection of Rainforest Alliance Certified and Verified chocolate. I liked some it, including fun candy bars from Bixby and chocolate bars from Dagoba. I would love to be able to tell you that a simple logo like the Rainforest Alliance frog or one of the fair trade certifications like UTZ or Fair Trade USA guarantees that the products you are buying are better for people, animals and the environment. But I can’t. It’s just not that simple. 


Certifications are all about transparency, but I couldn’t find details on the fees on the Rainforest Alliance website and a representative of the Rainforest Alliance didn’t supply them to me (some details on the comments section). In speaking with people who work both for companies that do and don’t carry the Rainforest Alliance logo I learned that the fees that are charged for verification and certification are not insignificant and it's likely those costs are passed on to consumers.

The cost for independent certifiers who can reportedly charge as much as $750 per day, in countries where the average monthly salary is only $50. Also only 30% of cacao might meet the standards and other ingredients might not meet any of the standards, one such ingredient is palm oil which can be very destructive to the environment. So is certified better? 

I think certifications programs are intended to do good, but ultimately, knowing the company that produces your chocolate is even better than any logo. Some chocolate companies I greatly respect for their products as well as their values include Amano Chocolate, Guittard and Pacari. Some have the Rainforest Alliance certification and some don't. 

Read more about the FairTrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certifications and what they mean, the positive and the negative.

Disclosure: My thanks to the Rainforest Alliance for sending me samples