UK’s Academy of Chocolate makes key board appointments

The UK-based Academy of Chocolate independent industry organisation has confirmed additional members to its board, writes Neill Barston.

As the not-for-profit group revealed, former chair and founder, Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, has been appointed its president, while Chantal Coady OBE and Clive Martyr have been appointed co-chairs.

Furthermore, as part of the move, Coady and Martyr (picture top right/bottom right) will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the academy, driving its operational and strategic activities.

Recognised as one of the pioneers of fine chocolate in the UK, Stanes will continue to offer strategic counsel to the Academy she set up more than 15 years ago. Both Coady and Martyr have extensive experience in the chocolate world.

Coady is one of the original founding members of the Academy and has over 35 years of experience in the world of fine and sustainable chocolate, receiving an OBE for her services to chocolate making in 2014.

She founded and managed Rococo Chocolates (1983-2019) and has since been shortlisted for Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, as well as being featured on The 50 Most Influential People in British Luxury and The Walpole Power List, her new incarnation is the Chocolate Detective.

Martyr is a lawyer and chocolate industry consultant with many years of experience working in the food and beverage industry, including at international law firm, Hogan Lovells and multinationals Kraft Foods and SABMiller.

During his career, he has developed a passion for fine chocolate and has spent the past 15 years developing his knowledge through practical courses, product development, marketing, as well as fine chocolate judging.

For 10 years, he has been a board member of the Academy of Chocolate, which was founded in 2005 by five of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals.

Since its inception, it has worked with manufacturers, producers and retailers across the world to raise awareness and understanding of the role chocolate plays in society and overall wellbeing. The Academy hosts the longest-running international fine chocolate awards, with 1,600 entries from nearly 50 countries last year.

Sara Jayne Stanes OBE said: “It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since the inception of the AoC and I am deeply proud of what we have achieved.

“It seems to have opened up a panoramic window on the chocolate world, with so many new ‘faces’ changing the way we look at chocolate from plantation to palate – unlike before when the provenance of chocolate was its box or the wrapper,” she explained, noting that  the UK is now predominant on the world’s chocolate landscape.

“It’s been a team effort and I would like to thank my fellow Board members for their work to date and I look forward to continuing to work with them in my new capacity.”

Clive Martyr said: “It is a great privilege to take on the co-chair role and to follow on from Sara’s amazing leadership. The Academy plays an essential part in encouraging fine chocolate makers across the globe, as well as helping to educate consumers about what fine chocolate is, and highlighting the importance of cocoa farmers receiving a fair payment for their efforts. I very much look forward to working with Chantal and the board to continue helping to promote the Academy’s aims.”

Chantal Coady OBE added: “The Academy does a fantastic job campaigning for better chocolate and promoting greater awareness about the difference between fine chocolate and the mass-produced chocolate confectionery that most of us eat. I am really pleased to be able to take this role and to build on the exceptional work Sara has done over the last 15 years. Sara’s passion and dedication has been a force for good in the world of fine chocolate.

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