The Coop Cooperative
is Switzerland's largest retailer. Their
chocolate manufacturing division, called Chocolats Halba, produces premium chocolate for retailers
around the globe. And the way they do it is exceptionally different.
Basically, Chocolats Halba
is a B2B chocolate manufacturer, producing chocolate for many
well-known brands and international retailers, which then sell the chocolate under Private Labels.
What sets them apart from other competitors is their superior chocolate quality
and the way they produce it. Instead of buying their cocoa supply from international traders,
they are sourcing it directly from fair-trade certified farmer cooperatives in the cocoa producing
countries. This strategy yields some marvellous results.
For one, Chocolats Halba
figured out why the cocoa quality of the international trade has started
to fluctuate over the last years. The reason is that the farmers are not getting paid enough – even
when paid fair-trade prices. Young farmers are forced to find work outside the villages and therefore
the loss of skilled labourers means cocoa farming is dying out, which results in less and lower
quality cocoa on the international market. Earlier this cocoa quality would not have been supplied to premium
chocolate manufacturer, but is shipped now to feed the growing global chocolate demand.
To fight this situation Chocolats Halba
started to do something that doesn't make sense at first:
They provide cocoa farmers with tree seedlings of specific species which grow well alongside cocoa trees.
These trees are of superior wood quality and can be used for timber. The cocoa farmers then plant these
timber trees alongside their cocoa trees in the wild.
This is where the magic happens. These trees provide necessary shade to the cacao and improve
the local water household as well as attracting insects to increase the cocoa flower pollination.
These effects result in more productive cocoa farming and so naturally more income for the
Furthermore, as long as they plant new ones, the farmer can sell the timber trees. One fully grown tree is currently
worth around USD 16,000 and therefore a substantial increase in income for the farmers’ household.
For Chocolats Halba
this approach has become an essential part of their business strategy. They can secure
their cocoa supply and raise its quality. On top of that every tree planted is GPS tracked and the Swiss company
receives CO2-certificates which allow them to produce CO2-neutral chocolate. Genius.
We were amazed once we got our heads around this visionary master plan. Chocolats Halba
sustainability and operating a profitable international business can go hand in hand. Their approach increases their
chocolate quality, supply security and tells a powerful product story, making their chocolate truly unique.
The problem was – nobody knew about it. So our first decision was to document their entire production process.
We've sent out Swiss photographer Filipa Peixeiro
to Ecuador, Peru, Ghana and Honduras to trace the process right
the way back, to the planting of the seeds.
We then hired Spain's film director Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
to film a half an hour documentary about this
revolutionary attitude to business economics and to produce television commercials for Coop