A Story of Fairness and Sustainability in the Cocoa Trade

Landish Blog

Farmers harvesting cocoa

Here at Landish, we pride ourselves on working with partners that reflect our passion for conscious and sustainable ingredient sourcing, like our cocoa supplier, Agostoni. Family-run for over three generations, Agostoni is an Italian producer of premium all-natural and organic chocolate, and they are deeply dedicated to three things: (1) superior, world-class quality and taste, (2) cocoa trade equality, and (3) sustainability.

A spoonful of cocoa powder

Agostoni’s Equal Partner Direct Buying Program

Collaboration is needed between farmers and processing manufacturers to produce cocoa that is both high-quality and ethically sourced. This is what Dr. Angelo Agostoni discovered over 45 years ago during his world-wide travel to find the best cocoa beans. Since then, his dedication to fairtrade cocoa has driven Agostoni’s Equal Partner Direct Buying Program, an ethical business model that ensures social and economic benefits for cocoa growers in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Uganda. Predating the oldest formal fair trade certification, the program’s benefits include: a guaranteed market, fair prices and long-term contracts for security, financial support for business development, and training and equipment for farmers to improve efficiencythe list goes on.

Financial Security for Farming Families

Agostoni’s active involvement and commitment to its partners has helped to provide greater financial security and an improved standard of living for farming families. Their support of “future farmer” programs has helped to inspire younger generations to take up cocoa farming as a safe, legal and fair way to make a living. This is especially true for the San Martín region in Central Peru, where growing cocoa has become an alternative source of income to the drug trade. The impact of the Equal Partner Direct Buying Program extends beyond the partnering cocoa farms, helping to support the surrounding communities as well. Greater financial security has helped communities to invest in social programs such as schools and health clinics.

Harvested cocoa drying

Reducing Financial Vulnerability in the Supply Chain

This commitment to offering financial security to all stakeholders requires buy-in from everyone. At Landish, we’ve happily agreed to source a blend of Agostoni cocoa from multiple farms within Peru and the Dominican Republic and do away with marketing buzzwords like ‘single-origin’.

Why is a blend a smarter solution than a single-origin product for both farms and brands like Landish? Because it ensures continuity for everyone. If we and many other companies were sourcing a single-origin cocoa, and the region supplying us experienced a shortage caused by drought or any other disaster, not only would our supply chain be forced to reorganize itself at great expense to source from another region, but the affected region would experience a longer-term interruption in demand after we brought our business elsewhere. This could have serious economic consequences.

Sourcing a blend of cocoa from different regions allows the percentage from either region to shift from year to year based on supply, leaving all parties less vulnerableall while maintaining the same specifications and quality standards.

Cleaner Agriculture

Landish sources Agostoni’s certified organic cocoa powder, but even for its non-organic cocoa products, Agostoni ensures that the beans were grown with a minimal use of pesticides and herbicides. In the Dominican Republic, Agostoni supported farmers in adopting organic practices and in achieving certification. Partnering farms in the DR now have 15,000 acres of certified organic land, empowering them to charge premium prices for organic beans for generations to come.

Cocoa fruit

A Comment From Landish Co-Founder Dan

“I’ve been hearing the term “fairtrade” for years, but I’m going to be honest: I knew little about why it really mattered. After educating ourselves on the topic and choosing a supplier-partner that does things the right way, we discussed some key conclusions amongst ourselves.

First off, free market forces, despite our general belief in them as our society’s main operating system, really do not ensure that fairness extends to everyone and everything. And we all know this right? It’s as true about the treatment of people as it is about the treatment of the environment.

Second, this is an important topic specifically in the cocoa industry. Recent stories of child and slave labour among cocoa growers in West Africa (even though we don’t source from this region) serve as a reminder that exploitation, always of the most vulnerable people, is a very real problem. Without sincere and continued pressure applied by consumers and brands, producers don’t necessarily have the incentives to ensure that good practices are implemented throughout their supply chain. And where there is a big problem there is often a big opportunityin this case, to uplift some of the poorest people on this planet by doing our little part in contributing to their financial security and human dignity. 

Finally, conscientious supply chains produce better products because that attitude of caring about impact tends to extend to all things: the wellbeing of workers, sustainability (both financial and environmental), and product quality and safety.

So the truth is, we’re not really making any sacrifice at all in supporting fair practices, we’re just being smarter. Thanks for being a part of this!”

Our 5 Mushroom Hot Chocolate is now made with the finest organic fairtrade cocoa from Agostoni. It has such a rich and refined chocolatey taste, with no sugar added—it’s seriously to die for. Give it a try now

Landish 5 mushroom hot chocolate


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