After a fantastic layover in Vancouver, seeing friends and family, picking up a new passport and enjoying some great meals, I’m taking off tomorrow morning to Guatemala with my friend Julia Zotter to capture another chocolate sourcing trip for Zotter Schokoladen (www.zotter.at). This time last year we were heading further south to Peru for the month where we checked in on dozens of cacao plantations across the country. One of the things that struck me from the last trip was just how far and how long getting to plantations took, at one point driving three days to get to one farmer. It made me realise how much of a factor distance is when it comes to products like chocolate, how far a bean has to travel before it gets to our mouths... or even just the port that will bring it to the Zotter factory in Austria, then onto wherever your mouth happens to be. Seeing this, combined with how hard and tough conditions are for many farmers, it made me realise how ridiculously under priced a product like chocolate actually is.
A $1 bar of chocolate is, simply put, a joke.
Organisations like the Fairtrade Foundation push producers to price fairly and the money flows back to communities that farm it, and Zotter goes even further to connect directly with cooperatives and farmers, but even knowing that, it wasn’t until I actually took the time to retrace the steps of my favourite chocolate bar that I realised how vast this system is, and how much impact can be made when you chose to purchase a more reasonably priced piece of chocolate.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting on Instagram about what I come across, hunting for cacao with Julia in Guatemala and Belize - find me at www.instagram.com/GraemeDYK