Divine Chocolate posts its strongest trading figures

Fairtrade company Divine Chocolate has confirmed its strongest ever annual turnover figures, reaching £14 million for 2017, against £12 million for the previous year.

The farmer-owned business reported particular success in the USA, with sales of $10m for the first time, with encouraging results for its other key markets.

According to the company, it delivered £190,000 in Fairtrade Premium as well as a £38,000 dividend to the Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ co-operative in Ghana that owns 44% of the company. It has also invested 2% of its turnover directly into funding farmer projects.

Chair of Divine Chocolate’s board, Jamie Hartzell, believed its positive results had been achieved despite a backdrop of rising costs and exchange rate fluctuations.

“Wider economic developments, largely driven by Brexit, presented the UK food industry with significant challenges,” said the chair, who added: “Divine has demonstrated its resilience in this volatile economy, and we can attribute this to doing what we do best – making wonderful chocolate. We continue to innovate in the chocolate we produce – this year the new Tasting Set of mini bars we introduced became one of our top selling products.”

The company explained it is now in year two of its five-year strategy: “Growing Business Differently”, which aims to empower farmers promote gender equality in the cocoa supply chain.

One of its major developments has been its recent certification as a B Corp, which gives the company a framework to track progress and plan how to improve in all areas of its operations. Its stated aim is to be as proud of how staff and suppliers are treated, and how environmental impact is being minimised, as of its acclaimed work with farmers, and the genuine choices if offers consumers.

The company’s annual report also covered how the company’s producer support and development fund has been invested over the year, not only in Ghana, but also with other farmers in Uganda, Malawi and Pakistan. These projects have focused on some of the most challenging issues facing smallholder farmers around the world such as land rights, climate change, improving productivity, and gender equality.

Further highlights in the report include the Divine Women campaign in Spring 2017, which highlighted and celebrated the role of women in the cocoa supply chain, and the work Divine has done with its owners, the Kuapa Kokoo farmers, over 20 years to embed greater gender equality throughout its organisation.

Group CEO, Sophi Tranchell, explained that she was looking forward to more companies and nations around the world being galvanised into action by the targets set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to eliminate poverty and inequality.

She said: “Divine’s growth this year, and our 20th anniversary coming up in 2018, are testament to the fact that new, more equitable business models can have staying power and achieve scale, even in the most competitive and economically challenging of environments.

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