We have some updates to share with you at ‘Spoon HQ regarding new products in the pipeline, price changes and ethically sourcing.
We’ve continued on our path of ethical sourcing and sustainability, and anyone that saw the David Attenborough Extinctions documentary will understand why! In our increasingly connected world that sometimes involves difficult decisions.
Ethically Sourcing Hazelnuts
Most recently we’ve been looking at our Hazelnut sourcing. We’re writing a detailed post on this, but in a nutshell (!), 70% of the worlds’ hazelnuts are farmed in Turkey and not a single farm can be shown to adopt fair labour practices. This isn’t so much the farmers’ fault, but ruthless middlemen and exploitation by large companies that obfuscate their supply chain. Though we are a small company we use a lot of Hazelnuts in our chocolate salami, Sea Salt Pralines and the Bish.
So we’ve struck up a relationship with a small family farm in the Piedmont region of Italy that produce arguably the worlds’ finest hazelnuts. By directly and ethically sourcing this way we know the farmer that grows the nuts used in our chocolates and pralines with complete transparency. They are more expensive, but you’ll see in our Hazelnut story why this is so important and the right thing to do. The upside is you’ll be able to taste the unique single estate provenance of these hazelnuts and terroir of the region.
New Packaging and Products
We’ve continued to evolve and improve our packaging. Our tube range has been very popular but the packaging to chocolate weight ratio is higher than we would like. So we are evolving our liqueur cherries to a new 12 chocolate boxed chocolate format, and Orangey Sticks and Humbug sticks to a new box format – all Plastic Free of course! These are still in the proof and manufacture stage so we’ll be continuing to sell our Botanical tubes until the new packaging is ready.
We continue to make our packaging in the UK with family run packaging companies we know and trust. Working with UK companies allows us to determine the paper board sourcing, that the electricity is generated in the increasingly renewable UK mix, that the rivers aren’t polluted, and workers are paid a living wage and pensions contributions. By making packaging locally we reduce the transportation distances and build links toward a circular economy.
Our Vegan Chocolate range is expanding this autumn with a new Vegan Chocolate collection to be launched in time for Christmas.
Our Hot chocolate Spoon boxes will soon evolve to remove the window. Though the window is non plastic and biodegradable in a home composting situation, by removing the window we also make the box single piece recyclable which has to be better.
We know that many customers when looking on a shop shelf prefer to see the product they are buying, and this is perpetuated by store buyers. When we first changed our Hot chocolate Spoon packaging to be plastic free in 2016 we were put under pressure from store buyers that preferred the Plastic Box solution. Things have progressed a little since then, but we all need to recognise this isn’t sustainable.
One advantage of removing the window is we are able to reduce the packaging cost a little, offsetting the price increases in chocolate, and keep our Hot Chocolate Spoons at the same price.
Ethically Sourcing Chocolate
We continue to work with Chocolat Madagascar and Casa Luker in Colombia under the Raisetrade scheme which puts more money into the local economy (approx 33% vs 7.5% with Fairtrade). Our Vegan Cashew Milc chocolate is made by Chocolat Madagascar under a cashew growing scheme partnered with the WWF in Madagascar.
You may wonder why we still include Soya Lecithin on our chocolate ingredients? Particularly given the deforestation in South America due to Soy plantations. Well the good news is most companies such as Chocolat Madagascar have actually stopped using Soya Lecithin as an emulsifier. But there is some Casa Luker chocolate that still uses it. We could switch to an alternative supplier without Soya and declare we are Soya free (and we certainly hope to be soon). But it is a more complex picture as Casa Luker are one of, if not the most sustainable and ethically sourced companies we know, working to the UN Sustainable Development goals and reforesting regions of Colombia formerly cattle ranches in unsafe regions. They have even recently purchased an exhausted Palm oil plantation which they are reforesting in a long term restoration plan. As Soya is a declared allergen we need to adopt the safe route of including it in our ingredients as an allergen even when many of our products don’t actually contain Soya.
Our cream is sourced locally from Ivy House Organic Farm with cream deliveries twice a week direct from the farm.
We have continued support the Akany Avoko Faravohitra children’s home each month during this difficult year and we recently had good news that local charity Avon Needs Trees has purchased Hazeland, an area along side the River Marden between Calne and Chippenham that they plan to re-forest protecting the degraded river and creating a partial green corridor along the river.
There are many ethical claims from companies but at the end of the day it comes down to a simple fact… if you’re for example paying £3.98 for a 180g chocolate bar, then whatever the ethical claims, somebody, somewhere isn’t getting paid enough. You can bet it won’t be the chocolate company or retailer. If you then see that same bar at a promotional half price in the supermarket then pretty much everybody in the supply chain is suffering.
We continue to hand make all of our chocolates using traditional artisan techniques and though it’s been a challenging year our team of four – Diana, Matthew, Tina and Pauline are back together.
So we have increased the pricing of our boxed chocolates and chocolate bars this autumn because we are sourcing and making ethically in a way that won’t cost the earth.
Matthew, Diana, Tina & Pauline