Breaking the mold: Craft chocolate makers prioritize quality, ethical and direct sourcing, and environmental welfare

Jeana Cadby, Tetsuya Araki, Alexis H. Villacis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The commodity chocolate industry has been long recognized for unsustainable and unethical production practices. In contrast, the craft chocolate industry is well-positioned to move the chocolate industry in the direction of more ethical sourcing strategies, improved environmentally-conscious production practices, and higher quality products as a whole. Craft chocolate businesses also often adhere to ethical and economical guidelines, providing farmers with significantly higher farm gate prices and more resources than their commodity counterparts. However, poor standardization and understanding of industry needs raises questions regarding the integrity and longevity of this industry. With a survey of craft chocolate makers from around the world and an assessment of craft chocolate bar origins and makers, our data confirms for the first time that many craft chocolate producers prioritize responsible business practices including ethical sourcing (29%) and use of direct trade to source higher quality ingredients (38%). Of those surveyed, 60% of chocolate makers believe that routinely used quality assessment techniques do not meet the needs of craft chocolate makers or could use improvement. In addition, this research found that over 65% of craft chocolate makers primarily source beans from South and Central America (in direct contrast to commodity cacao systems, predominantly sourcing from West Africa). Furthermore, this research identifies gaps to support craft chocolate industry cohesion. The craft chocolate industry recognizes the importance of sustainable development and promotion of farmer welfare and environmental conservation and is a remarkably distinct entity within the chocolate world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100122
JournalJournal of Agriculture and Food Research
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Craft chocolate
  • Direct trade
  • Ethical chocolate
  • South America
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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