In autumn 1998, Divine, the first ever farmer-owned Fairtrade chocolate bar aimed at the mass market, was launched onto the UK confectionery market. In an exciting new business model, Divine was established not only as a Fairtrade company, but with the largest share owned by the farmers themselves.
I started at Divine 20 years ago so of course there are many things that I know now that it would have been useful to know then. Knowing that Fairtrade would become so mainstream would have been very reassuring - as we were doing something very bold and taking a leap of faith. I think Divine Chocolate has been part of building [Fairtrade’s] trust and awareness. I hope that we have demonstrated that there really is a different way of doing business, putting the cocoa farmer at the heart of it.
Divine is driven by its social mission to empower farmers and consumers through creating a supply chain that shares value more equitably; a mission aligned closely to Fairtrade. In addition to paying farmers their share of profits, and the Fairtrade Premium; Divine invests 2% of their annual turnover directly in farmer projects geared particularly towards gender equality, securing land rights, improving farming techniques and organization governance.
100% of Divine products are Fairtrade and all the ingredients that can be Fairtrade are Fairtrade. This means all the cocoa, sugar and vanilla used to make Divine Chocolate is certified Fairtrade; in addition, Divine also endeavors to source other ingredients from Fairtrade suppliers, such as almonds from Pakistan, mangos from Burkina Faso, and coconut from Sri Lanka.
In Monte Bello, São Tomé, we have invested the Fairtrade premium in barriers to protect the cocoa from animals. We have also financed domestic electricity for people’s homes so they can run fridges and the children can use computers for school homework. Having electricity to run a fridge negates the costs of everyday travel to the city to buy perishables.
Cocoa farmer and logistics manager, CECAQ 11 São Tomé
Divine is a Fairtrade Organization; Fairtrade Organizations (FTOs) are companies that have been building fair trading partnerships and new opportunities with producers from long before a fair trade logo existed. Today, with the strength of the Fairtrade label, these FTOs continue to lead the way on new products, new opportunities and new ways of trading. Their work paves the way for other businesses who are new to the sustainability journey.
Divine has demonstrated what “doing business differently” looks like for the farmers, investors, employees, partners and all the people who love their chocolate. With an annual turnover of more than $18million, Divine has successfully established the brand in some of the most valuable markets in the world.
In Spring 2019, Divine launched an organic collection that is 100% organic, vegan and certified Fairtrade. The new range is made with an exceptionally good quality cocoa sourced from the tropical island of São Tomé and infused with fruits and spices. Divine’s efforts in sustainability were given due recognition when it won The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2018 in the UK.