fairafric was born in 2016 out of a passion to change the value chain in the chocolate industry and to make a social difference. Thanks to your support, we were able to turn the vision of opening our own solar-powered chocolate factory in rural Amanase into reality in 2020. With our now fully independent factory, we can finally offer organic certified chocolate again, in addition to absolutely fair and transparent production. In the following blog post you can read about how this project came to life.
Organic certification background
The food industry is the only industry in which the term “organic” is protected and subject to strict regulations. This means, for example, that no synthetic pharmaceuticals, hormones and/or synthetic chemicals are allowed to be used in the extraction of the raw materials or the farming of animals.
In order to be able to call certified organic chocolate part of the product range, special criteria must be followed, especially in the cultivation of cocoa. This is not only about the extraction of raw cocoa, but also about the training of farmers in topics such as sustainable agriculture and biodiversity.
Through targeted training for farmers by our partners, the farmers can manage their farms more sustainably. Yields increase significantly after the training in sustainable organic farming, which leads to an increased income for the farmers. The premium paid – fairafric pays $600, the highest organic premium per ton of cocoa in all of West Africa – makes organic farming even more attractive. At the same time, we are constantly working to optimize our own sustainability – for example, we offset our carbon footprint with climate protection projects in Ghana and Togo and have been a climate-neutral company since 2018.
How was our organic journey so far?
Despite the fact that we use only organic ingredients, we had to go without organic certification for a long time. Until the end of 2019, our chocolate was produced at Niche Cocoa, which produces cocoa mass and conventional chocolate for the local market in Ghana. During production at Niche Cocoa, very elaborate cleaning processes were necessary to prevent our organic chocolate mass from coming into contact with residues from conventional production. In this case, there was no guarantee that our organic chocolate mass did not contain any residues from conventional production.
However, since we were able to move production to our own solar-powered factory in 2020, it was finally an option for us to apply for organic certification again. After all, only organic ingredients make it through the various production steps in our chocolate factory.
In order to become certified organic, several steps have to be completed according to the EU regulations for organic farming.
How does the organic certification process work?
Control Union is one of the largest organic inspection laboratories in the world. First of all, the company submits an application, which is then examined. This is followed by an initial inspection of the products by a responsible person from Control Union. Audits of company files, factory tours and interviews are also part of this demanding admission procedure. In order to ensure constant quality and transparency, an annual inspection by Control Union is also carried out after certification.
As part of this annual inspection, the certifications are initially inspected and checked for accuracy. A storage audit is then performed to ensure that the organic products are protected from contamination by non-organic products. During the subsequent audit, emphasis is laid on internal quality assurance. If a company does not meet certain requirements here, the countermeasures implemented by the company are analyzed in a further step. In the final step, the incoming and outgoing goods are checked in a so-called product flow calculation and random samples are tested.
How does the fair trade shop confederation’s certification work?
The fair trade shops are among the most important partners of fairafric. Over the years, we developed a relationship of mutual respect and trust. The cooperation with the fair trade shop confederation is essential for us and we are particularly grateful that we have been accepted into the network of trading partners and that the network has always had our backs even in the roughest times, when we had lost our organic seal.
The fair trade shops stand for sustainable products, which is why the confederation conducts strict controls regarding the distributed products. The fair trade store confederation checks fair trade importers on the basis of a proven and continuously developed approval procedure. There are different requirements depending on the size of the company or already existing certifications.
First of all, an application must be submitted to the fair trade shop confederation. After the successful closure of the contract, a survey will be handed out, which verifies the compliance of the company’s operation with the criteria of fair trade as defined in the convention of the fair trade shops: All parties involved in fair trade must cooperate with each other and avoid unfair competition. Profit maximization at the expense of others is not tolerated. Furthermore, fair working conditions must also exist along the entire value chain, as the aspect of fair trade should not only play a role in the production of goods, but also in terms of social compatibility. In addition, absolute transparency, public relations work and independent education and information activities are among the criteria of the fair trade shop confederation.
Afterwards, an external auditor visits the company’s headquarters in order to verify the information provided in the questionnaire. The result of the audit forms the basis for the successful certification and inclusion in the supplier catalog.
The organic certification is an important step for us, for which we had to wait a long time. For us, transparency stands above all. You probably know that we have always used organic ingredients, even without the organic seal. The certification, however, helps us to reach even more people and to convince them of our vision. Thanks to the organic certification, you can now finally find us in your favorite organic shops – at the usual top quality!