Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 76 of 207

CANDY COUNTER He agrees that there is a growing, if delayed, interest in the origin of cacao beans. "In the U.S. we're a little behind Europe," he notes. "The English, Germans, Scandinavians and Dutch are leading the way, but I'm seeing people here willing to pay a little extra for a culinary voyage. It's an uphill struggle. What ultimately helps most are quality products." Fair trade has little to do with bean variety or taste, Neuhaus remarks. "You cannot distinguish fair trade from non–fair trade," he says, "but it's a step in the right direction." Sweet Earth buys some of its beans from Conacado, one of the most successful fair-trade cooperatives in the Dominican Republic, the second poorest country in the Caribbean. Forty-two percent of Dominicans live below the poverty line. Conacado has helped improve the living conditions of its workers, returning profits to its 10,000-plus member-growers at the end of each harvest. Because of the imple- mentation of fair trade, they are guaranteed 80 cents per pound for their beans. In con- trast, Neuhaus remembers quizzing farm- ers in West Africa and Ivory Coast back in 2005, before they transitioned to fair trade, and learned they were reaping as little as 11 cents per pound for their beans. "If the small farmers and villagers aren't making sustainable wages, what happens is their kids move to the cities and become drug dealers and prostitutes," Neuhaus says. "It's the equivalent of Walmart replac- ing small businesses. Fair Trade [U.S.A.'s] main focus is on the people and not letting them be completely controlled by large corporations." Impact on Sales Set in motion as a good-faith issue, fair trade has become good business. Fair Trade USA reports that certified products' sales grew 32 percent in 2011 at specialty outlets. Recent data shows the impact on cacao farmers grew, in dollars, by 156 percent last year. In 2002, approximately 14,000 pounds of cacao beans were certified fair trade. In 2011, the number of imported fair-trade cacao beans surpassed 11 million pounds. "Much of this growth has come from the increased use of fair-trade–certified cacao as an ingredient in other products: cocoa powder in ice cream and bakery items, cocoa butter in body care products," says Jenna Larson, a public relations specialist at Fair Trade USA. She adds that healthy growth has also been seen in chocolate bars and confections, such as chocolate-covered Summer Fancy Food Show Booth 2622 62 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE ❘ specialtyfood.com

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