Responsible celebrations. Buy chocolate that is more respectful of the environment and cocoa farmers

Eating chocolate without damaging the forest is not impossible. Chocolate makers are betting on production that does not neglect the preservation of the soil or the wages of the farmers.



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Mélanie Paulau founder of the 20°nord 20°sud chocolate factory, in December 2023. (SOPHIE AUVIGNE / RADIO FRANCE)

Charles Znati calls it the chocolate revolution. Give “more money for farmers who grow cocoa beans”, underlines this businessman. He launched the Pierre Hermé house. Today, he is the boss of Dengo in Europe, a brand born in Brazil, a major cocoa bean producing country.

His project is not only commercial, he warns against child labor on plantations and campaigns for soil preservation. “Most people who grow cocoa today are below the poverty line, he said. The big risk is deforestation. The trees become exhausted after a few years. So we have to move, continue to deforest elsewhere.”

Geographic origin

Dengo provides more resistant plants and trains farmers in good practices in exchange for decent wages. These attentions have consequences on the price of the chocolate bar, which is inevitably more expensive, according to Christophe Bertrand, manager of the La Reine Astrid chocolate factory. “We absolutely must stop eating chocolate if there is not a geographical origin, assures this trader. In one case, by a stock price which is fixed in London, manufacturers buy cocoa only because it is not expensive. And in the other it’s very different because it’s no longer bulk. There really has to be a country indicated.” Even before creating her chocolate factory 20° Nord, 20° Sud, Mélanie Paulau was aware of the situation of cocoa producers. “I didn’t like chocolate. I almost boycotted it”she explains.

Christophe Bertrand manager of the Queen Astrid chocolate factory, in December 2023. (SOPHIE AUVIGNE / RADIO FRANCE)

Mélanie Paulau discovered a quasi-philosophy of chocolate, a concept called “bean to bar”, from bean to bar. To highlight each nuance of cocoa from Peru, Ghana, Ivory Coast, we remove unnecessary ingredients. “The added fat, lecithin and flavorings, lists the chocolatier. But for that, you have to have exceptional cocoa. You have to know how to try to respect the work that has been done beforehand. When I make a chocolate bar before I get to the bar, I’ve had five weeks of work.” With the hope that one day France, perhaps Europe, will impose the display of the geographical origin of chocolate.

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