Photo:Claudia Link

The sweet spot

Indulgence with an impact

From choco­late boxes and choco­late Santas to tree deco­ra­ti­ons – at Christ­mas, it’s all about indul­gence. Choco­late-based foun­da­ti­ons are dedi­ca­ted to doing good, above and beyond mere enjoy­ment. Choco­late can do good, both in Switz­er­land and in the regi­ons where it is grown. 

The Christ­mas season is choco­late season. ‘From an emotio­nal perspec­tive, the season is a very special time of inter­ac­tion,’ says Chri­stoph Inauen, co-foun­der of Choba Choba and the Choba Choba Foun­da­tion. His busi­ness part­ner Eric Garnier adds: ‘Our connec­tion with the Peruvian farming fami­lies is parti­cu­larly intense at Christ­mas. This comes from the cultu­ral diffe­ren­ces in how and when diffe­rent coun­tries cele­brate.’ In 2015, the duo foun­ded Choba Choba, the first-ever Swiss choco­late brand co-owned by its cocoa farmers. ‘Choco­late is a wonder­ful, emotio­nal product,’ says Inauen. ‘But it often has a dark side. It is directly linked to the poverty in which the cocoa farmers live.’ In the space of five years, Choba Choba has success­fully estab­lished itself as a sustainable choco­late brand. Today, 26 per cent of the joint stock company (AG) is owned by produ­cers in Peru. They have a say in the running of the company and share in its success. Choba Choba has a fully trans­pa­rent supply chain.

Foto: Freepik

The consi­stent commu­nity focus and uncom­pro­mi­sing envi­ron­men­tal approach have been instru­men­tal in the company’s success. Coop has recently star­ted stocking its choco­late. Commer­cial success is just one aspect, howe­ver, and it is not the whole picture for the two foun­ders. Over and above running the busi­ness, they are dedi­ca­ted to promo­ting consi­stent, sustainable cocoa farming. To this end, they foun­ded the Choba Choba Foun­da­tion a year ago. Its focus is not just on the supply chain. The chari­ta­ble foun­da­tion has two objec­ti­ves: ‘We take part in rain­fo­rest protec­tion projects with part­ners in the Peruvian Amazon, where our cocoa is grown,’ says Garnier. ‘We also deve­lop sustainable, profes­sio­nal farming methods and train local cocoa farmers to enable them to improve the sustaina­bi­lity of their produc­tion,’ he adds. The aim is to promote a respon­si­ble approach to natu­ral resour­ces, to fight poverty and to achieve econo­mic inde­pen­dence for the cocoa farmers. The goal is to do good through good-quality confec­tion­ery – and not just at Christmas.

Foto: Nico­las Villaume

How choco­late helps Switzerland’s natu­ral environment 

Switz­er­land has a history of doing good through choco­late. With choco­late coins, for example. Few products have a stron­ger tradi­tion of unit­ing choco­late indul­gence with chari­ta­ble purpo­ses in Switz­er­land than ‘Schog­gi­ta­ler’ choco­late coins. In 2021, the product will cele­brate its 75th anni­ver­s­ary. ‘While the concept is well estab­lished today, it was bril­li­ant and inno­va­tive when Pro Natura and the Swiss Heri­tage Society intro­du­ced it in 1946,’ says Lore­dana Ventre, mana­ging direc­tor of Schog­gi­ta­ler. After the end of World War II, choco­late remai­ned ratio­ned. But Federal Coun­cil­lor Walter Stampfli – who was in charge of ratio­ning and wartime nutri­tion – was won over by the idea, and made 25 tonnes of choco­late avail­able. The two NGOs wanted to raise money to save Lake Sils. The lake is loca­ted in the Upper Enga­dine, and was due to be dammed. Hydro­elec­tric power plants would have scar­red the land­s­cape. Pro Natura and the Swiss Heri­tage Society formed the spon­so­ring orga­ni­sa­tion and laun­ched the campaign: 20,000 school child­ren sold 823,420 choco­late coins. ‘It was the first choco­late that could be obtai­ned without ration coupons during the post-war period,’ says Ventre. The money raised was used to compen­sate the muni­ci­pa­li­ties for the loss of reve­nue from water char­ges. The lakeside land­s­cape was saved. 

Foto: Schoggitaler.ch

The choco­late coins became an unmistaka­ble symbol of envi­ron­men­tal protec­tion and heri­tage preser­va­tion. Accord­ing to the same tradi­tion, school child­ren in Switz­er­land still use the choco­late coins to raise money for nature conser­va­tion projects to this day. Last year, money was raised for the Bavona Valley in Ticino, one of the most beau­ti­ful natu­ral land­s­capes in the Alpine region. ‘Sales rates have decli­ned since the 1980s, howe­ver,’ says Ventre. The child­ren are just as active in their fund­rai­sing, but fewer and fewer clas­ses are signing up. ‘In addi­tion to the educa­tio­nal impact of getting invol­ved in nature conser­va­tion in Switz­er­land, ten percent of the proce­eds also go to the class fund,’ says the Schog­gi­ta­ler mana­ging direc­tor. Over the coming year, Schog­gi­ta­ler will have the oppor­tu­nity to cele­brate its 75th anni­ver­s­ary and boost its visi­bi­lity. When it comes to what the cele­bra­ti­ons will look like, howe­ver, Ventre isn’t giving anything away just yet.

Remai­ning a pionee­ring choco­late country

Lindt is cele­bra­ting an anni­ver­s­ary this year. The brand has been synony­mous with Swiss choco­late for 175 years. ‘High quality stan­dards are as essen­tial to the exqui­site choco­late expe­ri­ence as sustainable produc­tion,’ says the spokes­wo­man for the Lindt Choco­late Compe­tence Foun­da­tion. Two chari­ta­ble foun­da­ti­ons were foun­ded in 2013 that under­pin these princi­ples. Accord­ing to the Lindt Choco­late Compe­tence Foun­da­tion spokes­wo­man, the advan­tage of a foun­da­tion is that it can focus fully on its purpose without having to concern itself with the day-to-day busi­ness. It can serve the common good in the best way possi­ble. The two foun­da­ti­ons operate comple­tely inde­pendently of one anot­her. The Lindt Choco­late Compe­tence Foun­da­tion is dedi­ca­ted to Switz­er­land as a loca­tion. ‘The image of Switz­er­land as a pionee­ring choco­late coun­try is suppor­ted by high-quality products,’ the spokes­wo­man asserts. The foun­da­tion fosters product inno­va­tion and the conti­nual impro­ve­ment of produc­tion tech­no­logy. It also supports indu­stry-speci­fic trai­ning and educa­tion. This commit­ment aims to main­tain Switzerland’s posi­tion as a leading choco­late coun­try in the long term. At the heart of the foun­da­tion is the Lindt Home of Choco­late museum in Kilch­berg, Zurich. The museum shares inte­re­sting facts about choco­late with visi­tors. Univer­si­ties and compa­nies can make use of the ‘pilot plant’ testing faci­lity for events. The Lindt Cocoa Foundation’s mission is to improve cocoa farming in the local growing regi­ons. It supports inno­va­tive projects and focu­ses on the culti­va­tion, produc­tion and proces­sing of the raw mate­ri­als. ‘By supporting rese­arch projects, we are promo­ting the sustainable deve­lo­p­ment of agri­cul­ture in the coun­tries of origin,’ says the foundation’s spokes­wo­man. ‘The projects aim to moti­vate and empower farmers to improve their farming prac­ti­ces and help estab­lish a favoura­ble econo­mic environment.’


Learn more about the Choba Choba Foun­da­tion, the Lindt Choco­late Compe­tence Foun­da­tion and the Lindt Cocoa Foun­da­tion on stiftungschweiz.ch

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