Innovation That Matters

Chocolate with a conservation commitment


We’ve written about several food brands that provide consumers with detailed information on the sources and background of their jam, bananas, coffee and other foods. Now, a premium chocolate company has taken product life stories to the next level by incorporating a transparent commitment to rainforest conservation. Launched in 2008 and now expanding worldwide, San Francisco-based Original Beans offers a direct link between its customers and the conservation work it supports. For each bar sold, Original Beans plants a tree in the rainforest where the bar’s ingredients originated. Each bar carries a certificate inside the wrapper with a lot number that designates the location of a new tree. By entering the tracking code on the company’s website, customers can not only trace where the cacao beans in their individual bar were grown, but also what their contribution is to the chocolatier’s rainforest replenishment efforts. Hence the company’s mantra: “One bar, one tree, go see.” Original Beans offers three varieties of single-origin chocolate, from Ecuador, Bolivia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The company is allied with farmers’ co-ops in these areas, who plant rare cacao trees plus a mix of trees necessary for lively biodiversity. Incorporating ecological and social costs into its pricing model means each 3.5oz (100g) bar of Original Beans chocolate is steeply priced at USD 12. Even for an indulgence that helps the environment, it remains to be seen whether customers will be willing to regularly pay double digits for chocolate bars. But there’s no doubt that it’s smart to empower consumers to see a direct, measurable positive effect on the environment with their purchase, especially when brands find engaging ways to share those benefits. How else will companies experiment with, and up the ante on, “life story labels”? Spotted by: Roelof le Roux



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