UK chocolate brand MIA releases sustainability impact report

UK-founded Chocolate brand MIA, short for Made In Africa, has revealed its key increased social and environmental gains in its 2019 impact report, as it upscales its production operations and manages a transition to locally pressed Madagascan cocoa butter.

Unlike the majority of chocolate, the company’s product range is made bean-to-bar at source, which is a deliberate policy to help provide sustainable jobs, transfer skills and create four times more revenue than the export of raw cocoa.

In 2019, MIA production addressed eight United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, supported 15 full-time jobs and protected over 5,000 trees in Madagascar. The MIA ‘1 for Change’ impact programme – funded by 1% of sales – committed to ‘MIA Green’ to offset CO2 emissions with a tree planting programme and created a ‘Fruit Tree Scholarships’ to facilitate secondary school education for vulnerable students.

Co-founder Brett Beach explains the decision to make finished products in Africa: “Since cocoa was spread around the world following the arrival of Columbus in the Americas, we have seen some positive developments at the farm level. Since widespread consumption in the 1800s, most cultivation has moved from forced labour to free trade with fair trade as a path to a better life for cocoa farmers. Production of value-added chocolate bars, on the other hand, started in Europe and has largely stayed in rich nations in the Northern Hemisphere.

“There has been little to no change in where chocolate confectionery is made and who benefits. Something is drastically wrong when a country as small as Belgium with a population of 11M produces more than 10% of the world’s chocolate and Africa’s 1.2B people make less than 1%. MIA is out to change this inequality.”

Africa cultivates 70% of the world’s cocoa yet communities on the continent benefit from just 0.2% of value-added chocolate production that brings much needed jobs and develops skilled labour. Whereas fair trade creates a better world for cocoa farmers, MIA goes further to transform raw materials into chocolate in Africa to create ‘fair made’ value-added products that spread positive impact beyond the farm.

In addition to increasing production volume in 2019, MIA transitioned to locally pressed cocoa butter. MIA co-founder Sarah Lescrauwaet explains the advantages: “On the one hand the shift to locally produced cocoa butter allows us to increase positive impact at cocoa farms through increased purchases. It also means we can use aromatic cocoa butter made from fine flavour Madagascan beans instead of deoderised butter that is made from mass market beans. This adds more depth of flavour to MIA chocolate and helped us bring home three Great Taste Awards in 2019.” For further details view the MIA impact report to find out more about its work in Africa.

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