Living without Chocolate and the power of Chocothon

“Chocolate is not a matter of life and death–it’s more important than that.” (Jill Shalvis)

Chocolate is for many, a pleasure they would never want to give up. It has been proven as a source of wellbeing as it increases the serotonin levels and consequently, making us happier than most other foods. This explains John Q. Tulio’s quote: “nine out of ten people love chocolate and that tenth person is probably lying.”

Knowing that eating dark and good quality chocolate improves the brain activity; protects our bone and cardiovascular systems and provides antioxidants that keep our skin young.

Living without chocolate is unthinkable for many, but there are many factors that are putting at risk the future of chocolate.

Apart from the effects of climate change, there are socioeconomic factors that are reducing the volume of cacao available in the international market, which is mostly supplied by South America and the equatorial region of Africa. Nevertheless, making chocolate production sustainable requires more than just reducing the environmental footprint.

This is not only about adding value to a chocolate bar by stamping a sustainability stamp on it but also, by: eliminating the use of pollutants; by avoiding child-labor and by guaranteeing fair prices for all the actors involved in the process; convey the knowledge they need and making helping them to reduce the use of water and energy in the processes. Added to that, it is essential to find ways of improving the organoleptic properties of the final product.

Technology and innovation are the main drivers of the needed change in order to satisfy our demand and to guarantee the production of one of our most valued ingredients as Michael Levine states in The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars: “In chemical terms, chocolate is the most perfect food in the world.”

Innovation is the route to rethink and make a future with chocolate possible. The process will be long and it won’t be easy, but there are already big corps, entrepreneurs, think tanks and civil society organizations who are working on this subject.

World media has spread around the world the news on the newly discovered and naturally pink chocolate, which has been given the name of ruby. It has been launched by Barry Callebaut in Switzerland and is the 4th existing type of chocolate after white, milk and dark.

Nestle sells since 2016 Kit Kat with cocoa that is 100% sustainable. In Spain, all its product lines are produced under this premise and bear the  UTZ label. Dandelion Chocolate is another initiative by a smaller enterprise in San Francisco which is growing at a rapid pace and offers a unique experience for chocolate lovers with their “bean-to-bar” offer.

 

Thanks to the efforts undertaken by both the public and private sector which are putting in place programs to foster the economic and social development, will without any doubt contribute to improve the working conditions and the processes of this industry. Nevertheless, much more has to be done in order to turn this into a viable future and for that purpose it becomes necessary to put up projects that collect and put into action new ideas.

A Chocothon to Save Cocoa

CHOCOTHON was born out of this need. It is a platform of collaboration with the objective of empowering and connecting cocoa farmers and to come up with new opportunities for them and for other actors involved in the value chain. Choocthon gives worldwide access to people willing to gather and hack the production process of chocolate to guarantee a future in which we can all still enjoy this superfood.

The first Chocothon was first celebrated in January this year in Ghana, which is the second main cocoa producer in the world, and the second phase will take place between the 23rd and 25th of October in Washington D.C. in which hackers will gather up to share and co-create ideas on the sustainability of chocolate production.

The event will be supported by the Word Cocoa Fundation, World Bank, the Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Google Food Team, our Future Food Institute (FFI) and the Business School Lausanne (BSL). All of these institutions are engaged with this issue and will contribute to the design of prototypes (specially hard and software solutions), to resolve and the needs in the cocoa production and distribution system.  

The participants of the hackathon will work in closely with state agencies, corporations,  NGO’s involved in the cocoa sector during the annual meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation. The idea is to work collaboratively to have a positive impact. We still have got time to save this source of well-being and happiness.

The Chocothon awaits everyone who is willing to explore creative and transformative solutions. And, as everything good in life: “Chocolate doesn’t make the world go round, but it sure does make the trip worthwhile!”(Anonymous).

What are you waiting for? Registrations are open, follow THIS LINK