Chocolates lift our mood, but the process of making a chocolate bar contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Food production, in general, is somewhat responsible for emissions, but making a bar of chocolate gets a lot of attention, all the more so on World Environment Day.
Cocoa farming and deforestation
Scenario in India
In 2018, the WEF called India “one of the fastest growing chocolate markets”. In 2021, the country had 10 multinational companies engaged in the cocoa industry. India earns foreign exchange worth Rs 1,108 crore from the export of cocoa beans and its products. But India “also imports the lion’s share of its requirements from other cocoa-producing countries worth Rs 2,021 crore” because “the current domestic production of cocoa beans is not sufficient to meet industry demand,” according to the government.
In India, cocoa is grown in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu over an area of 1,03,376 hectares (ha) with a total production of 27,072 million tonnes. But a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2018 said India was among the “top three emitters” when it comes to emissions from agriculture. The other two were Brazil and Indonesia.
Is there a way to love chocolates as well as the environment?
Some brands try
Saying no to chocolates is not a solution. So should you choose from some of the newbies in the conscious chocolate movement? Let’s take a look at what some of the smaller brands are doing, in no order of preference.
Kocoatrait, co-founded by Nitin Chordia, claims to be the “first sustainable, luxury, zero waste, single-origin, organic and planet-friendly chocolate brand” in the world and in India. Chordia, who is also the first certified chocolate taster in India, said he ensures that the cocoa used by the brand is not planted on deforested land.
But are there areas where Kocoatrait still lags behind when it comes to environmental friendliness? “We shouldn’t be thinking about solving the world’s problem. We ship our chocolates in a recycled cardboard box and print on the cardboard itself to save paper. But we still have to use plastic cello strips,” Nitin said.
“We have started talking to tape manufacturers and will start purchasing less harmful tapes. We are looking at cornstarch-based tapes, but they are all in the testing phase. It will take another year or two,” said he declared.
Kocoatrait is not alone in making sustainable chocolates.
All Things, based in Rajasthan, says it “only uses directly marketed cocoa”. “We only buy directly from farmers or collectives at a fair price. The cocoa is grown under ethical and sustainable conditions by skilled Indian farmers, with great knowledge and care,” the brand’s website says.
Soklet, another chocolate brand, says its “cocoa is grown as an intercrop with coconut, nutmeg, pepper and banana, creating a mix of interdependent fauna.” “The plantation is pesticide-free and managed according to aquaculture principles,” he says.
Even the big companies in the sector have started to think more about the Earth. According to the World Economic Forum article, some reputable chocolatiers also encourage direct trade, small batches and support farms where cocoa is grown.
Although chocolates can still contribute to environmental degradation, sweets lovers should remember that in the end “every drop counts”.