A Momentous Occasion in Direct Trade: 50 Origin Trips (And Counting)!
After a smooth 40-hour journey Shawn arrived in the Philippines and got right to work.
On Monday, Shawn spent the day working with our lead farmer partner, Peter Cruz, and his team in Davao. It’s almost hard to believe we’ve been purchasing cocoa beans from Peter since 2008 (and were the first to export cocoa from the Philippines since the 80’s)! Peter is known nationally as an expert in organic and regenerative cocoa farming, and we often learn from his techniques and will apply those to some of our other origins.
One of Shawn’s areas of focus on this trip is perfecting post-harvest– something Peter and his partner, Johnny, are experts in. Shawn brought a pH meter to be able to test the level of the cocoa beans during fermentation. Stopping fermentation at the appropriate time (and pH level) is crucial to creating the best tasting chocolate possible. This is an ongoing initiative we’re excited to share more about in the coming months.
The day concluded with a profit share meeting (and meal: potato soup, fresh chicken, adobo, and red rice—as well as Marang fruit and Rambutan for dessert [pictured below])—something Shawn has been doing here for the last 14 years.
This is where we share a percentage of our profits, in cash, based on the sales of products made with their beans, and review accompanying financial statements. In doing this, we reward the farmers for producing premium quality beans, and enable them to invest back into their business as they see fit. This is Direct Trade, and it was a perfect day to kick off such a milestone trip!
Since 2009, we’ve had the amazing opportunity to partner with teachers to create self-sustaining lunch programs for undernourished school children in the Philippines. These schools are located in communities that surround the farms where we purchase our cocoa beans from.
When Shawn visited Baguio Elementary a year ago, he learned that they were in need of a lunch program for their kindergarten class– about 40 students who would greatly benefit from nutritious lunches at school to meet their basic nutritional needs. Via our foundation, Chocolate University, we were able to sponsor this program through the generous donation of a factory friend.
Since the program kicked off in April 2023, the teachers have closely monitored the students and we’ve seen each of them achieve healthy nutrition levels (according to UN standards we use). And we’ve seen over the years how meeting a basic need can give children the energy and focus to do some amazing things!
Shawn was able to see the program in action this week. In these photos, the children have lined up to have spaghetti, chicken, bread and a natural juice. What they don’t finish, they put in small Tupperware containers to take home.
One of the ways that the program is moving toward becoming self-sustaining is through cocoa farming! Our local farmer partners have helped the schools plant cocoa trees that the parents can harvest and sell beans from to fund the lunch program.
We appreciate your continued support because it allows us to do more things that truly make a difference! To learn more about this work–and get involved, visit chocolateuniversity.org!
On his final day in Davao, Shawn celebrated an amazing year of chocolate with our farmer partners in the Philippines! We hosted a Valentine’s Day party with farmers and their families to honor our decade-plus relationship making award-winning chocolate together.
Shawn presented a plaque commemorating our win at the 2023 Academy of Chocolate Awards for our White Chocolate Nibble Bar using their cocoa beans. After a big, traditional dinner the group exchanged some small gifts, and of course Shawn led an in-depth tasting of several of the bars we make with Davao cocoa beans. The older farmers were the biggest fans of the dark chocolate bars and the younger ones loved the white chocolate and dark chocolate + orange bars.
At the end of the party, the group—including Shawn & lead farmer partner, Peter—participated in a TikTok dance (check it out here 🤣)!
We’re proud of these direct trade relationships, and the chocolate that ensues. We like to think you can taste a little bit of the joy and love in each bite.