Divine, the only Fairtrade chocolate company in the world to be 45% owned by the farmers who supply its cocoa, is celebrating after its Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Sea Salt was named as the UK’s Favourite Fairtrade Product at a reception to mark 20 years of Fairtrade in the UK.
The public praised Divine’s chocolate bar for its “innovative flavour”, calling it “just the ticket for an autumnal fireside tea-break”, their “favourite little luxury” and “absolutely scrumptious”. One person summed up its appeal as, “tastes good, feels good, does good.” But for one fan, Divine’s Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Sea Salt is almost too good. “Can’t eat just one square. It’s the whole bar every time actually,” he said.
More than 1,700 members of the public nominated their favourite Fairtrade product for the award, with big-name global brands, supermarket own-label goods, and products consumed out of home all getting votes. But the public reserved most support for ‘Fair Trade Organisations’ – ethical companies such as Divine, that were created with the purpose of making trade fairer and whose products are 100% Fairtrade.
Zaytoun, a community interest company founded 10 years ago to create and develop a market for Palestinian artisan produce, was named as the runner-up for its Palestinian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which garnered more than 300 nominations. Third place went to the Real Easter Egg from The Meaningful Chocolate Company, whose philosophy is to love good chocolate and love helping people.
Several other ‘Fair Trade Organisations’ received votes for their products, including Cafédirect, Equal Exchange, Traidcraft,Tropical Wholefoods, Visionary Soap Company, and Liberation, which is 44% owned by smallholder nut producers. Retailers and brands also received several nominations, including The Co-operative, Sainsbury’s, Clipper, and Ben and Jerry’s.
Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “As we celebrate 20 years of the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK, we’re proud to acknowledge the commitments that brands, both large and small, have made to ensure producers get a fairer deal and can work towards a more sustainable future.
“Over the years, some of the world’s biggest global brands have switched to Fairtrade, and they have played an important role in raising awareness of Fairtrade with more consumers and increasing the volume of Fairtrade sales. But Fairtrade wouldn’t be where it is today without the pioneering work of brands such as Divine, who paved the way for many of the big switches. Divine not only produces delicious chocolate, it is also a great example of what can be achieved for smallholder farmers when you put producers at the heart of your business model, and we’re delighted that the public have recognised that with this award.”
Accepting the award from chef, writer and broadcaster Allegra McEvedy, who is patron of the Fairtrade Foundation, Sophi Tranchell, managing director at Divine, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Divine’s Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Sea Salt has been voted the UK’s favourite Fairtrade product on the 20th anniversary of the FAIRTRADE Mark. Thank you to everyone who voted – it is public recognition for a brand that’s not only delicious, but owned by the 85,000 farmers of Kuapa Kokoo, who will be extremely pleased to hear that their chocolate is such a big hit here in the UK.”
Two further awards were presented including the Outstanding Fairtrade Campaign award, which was won by The Isle of Man Fairtrade Group and the Special Recognition Award, which was given to Garstang, the world’s first Fairtrade Town.
Fairtrade benefits 1.4m farmers and workers in more than 70 developing countries, by ensuring they receive a fair, stable price for their produce, better working conditions, and a Fairtrade Premium that can be invested as they choose, in their business or in projects to benefit their community, such as classrooms, clinics, clean drinking water or climate adaptation programmes. In 2013, UK shoppers bought an estimated £1.7bn of Fairtrade products, which resulted in over £26m of Fairtrade Premiums being paid to producers.
Twenty years ago, there were just three products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark: Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate, Cafedirect medium roast coffee, and Clipper tea. Today, the FAIRTRADE Mark is the most widely-known ethical label in the world and UK shoppers can choose from over 4,500 Fairtrade products including tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, bananas, sugar, cotton, gold, cut flowers, wine and cosmetics.