One of my favorite chocolates today is Ikea’s Choklad Mork, Dark chocolate, 70%. Funny, I don’t really need those big brands. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn down Hershey’s or Cadbury’s but if it’s Ikea’s dark chocolate, I will just quietly take it, eat it and enjoy it. Yeah, I don’t really have to share, right?
I suddenly remembered how people would judge chocolates in my childhood. Is that isteytside (stateside, meaning coming from the United States)? Oh, Serg’s? Local. Goya? Local. And then there are others who would say European chocolates were the best. I’m not one who would usually look at labels but as I am trying to procrastinate from exercising, I broke off a square from my Ikea chocolate because, here I am thinking that I just needed extra energy before I start. So I became curious. Ikea, being a Swedish brand, that’s European right? But, what does it mean when people say European or American chocolates? Where are the chocolates made?
So I flipped the bar and there I saw, “Produced in Spain”. Right below it, I also saw that you could check the origin of the cacao. Of course! Produced in Spain doesn’t mean all the ingredients came from Spain. The important thing is, where did the cacao come from?
I hurriedly checked out www.utz.org/IKEA and that’s where I saw the coffee and cacao based products of Ikea. And yes, if I find the expiry date of the chocolate bar that I’m eating, I can do a trace as to where the cacao of this specific bar came from.
However, the expiry date on my bar wasn’t found on the site. Though slightly disappointed, I press on. I’ll just pretend to have another expiry date.
So if the bar I have has the expiry date of July 05, 2021, it says that the source of my Cacao is a cooperative from Cote d’Ivoire. Wow… Really?
But what if the expiry date changed?
I hurriedly changed it to an earlier one which is on May 02, 2021.
Now, it shows that the cacao from that bar would have come from the Dominican Republic and Cote d’Ivoire. Oh and take note, though a part of it was sourced from Cote d’Ivoire as well, this trace if from a different cooperative. The previous one was from Cooperative Koado-Due while the second one was from Cooperative BECIDA. I guess this one was a blend. Interestingly, that meant that the other one was a single origin bar. It’s just that they couldn’t make that assurance across all the bars so of course they won’t label it that way.
I am now just amazed that I could trace the cacao origins of my favorite bar.
I’m not going to go deep into what UTZ does but it basically supports sustainable farming. Anything it certifies, you can be assured that those farms are into sustainable farming practices. UTZ suppliers adhere to a Code of Conduct which outlines farming methods, working conditions and interaction with nature that these farms are supposed to follow. It doesn’t necessarily mean fair trade though because it doesn’t interfere with the prices. For now, I’d like to think that if you are in the mindset of sustainable farming, you would carry that into the wellbeing of your employees.
I’m taking my last bite from this Ikea chocolate bar since I’m not supposed to finish it. Sustainable practices for me also means I need to watch my servings of sweets and one bar is not supposed to be for one person in one sitting.
As I savor this last bite, even if this expiry date didn’t match any of those in the UTZ site, I imagine all the work put into this chocolate bar. I do hope that the farmers and their families are healthy and happy and I hope that their farms will continue to produce good quality cacao.
I love chocolates… the bittersweet kind… and now I might want to add, the kind that is sourced from sustainable farming methods.
So judge it based on where it was made? It’s just made there, but the most important ingredient didn’t come from there.