The Sweet Side of Business: Theo Chocolate
Theo Chocolate is a company based in Seattle, Washington, working to make chocolate bars through a more ethical business model. With flavors ranging from a seasonal eggnog to a ghost chili dark chocolate caramel, the company is no stranger to exploration. Boasting Fair for Life- Fair Trade and USDA Organic certifications, Theo prides itself on the guidelines to which it adheres, in addition to the deliciousness of their final product. In recent years, companies like Theo have reached new popularity, especially among the young adult demographic, but why did this occur?
Within the fair trade practices that Theo employs, they aim to help the farmers, from whom they source the cocoa beans, better their lives. According to Theo, “Every Theo purchase directly supports the livelihoods of over 5,500 cocoa farmers in our supply chain and their 30,000 family members, enabling farmers to send their children to school, feed their families, and reinvest in their communities. Theo makes sure that the farmers with whom they work use responsible and efficient growing practices when working with the cocoa. Their “bean to bar” philosophy is another huge source of pride: they are involved from the very beginning of harvesting the cocoa bean to its final destination as a bar on store shelves. Currently sourcing cocoa from Peru and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Theo is aware of the economic challenges that farmers may face. Because of this, they explain that “Our cocoa beans and the lives they touch are at the heart of our business. For this reason, we have direct trade relationships with all of our cocoa suppliers and visit regularly. We negotiate prices directly, provide training on good agricultural practices and offer meaningful quality incentive payments. With our model farmers know how much income to expect from their harvest, enabling them to make financial plans for the future and to invest in their families and communities.” By educating their customers about the practices they use, I think Theo makes it incredibly difficult to turn down support towards a great cause, especially when it is as simple as buying a candy bar. Maintaining a high level of transparency is easy when you can be proud of the business practices you employ.
Theo’s sense of community with the city of Seattle is another huge factor in its success. With “fantasy” flavors reserved solely for the original chocolate store in Seattle, there's no doubt that Theo is deeply ingrained within the city’s culture. Having visited Theo’s flagship store and their chocolate factory over fall break, I can say that the company is, physically and metaphorically, in the heart of the community.