Lucia Mansaray, cocoa farmer from Sierra Leone walking with son Beshey and cocoa farm helper at the edge of the Gola Rainforest

Divine case study: empowering farmers and consumers

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.

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 also invests in farmer projects geared particularly towards gender equality, securing land rights, improving farming techniques and organisation governance.

How Divine works with Fairtrade

100 percent 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 endeavours to source other ingredients from Fairtrade suppliers, such as almonds from Pakistan, mangos from Burkina Faso, and coconut from Sri Lanka. Divine is a Fairtrade Organisation; Fairtrade Organisations (FTOs) are companies that have been building fair trading partnerships and new opportunities with producers from long before the FAIRTRADE Mark existed. Today, with the strength of the FAIRTRADE Mark, 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 starting out on their sustainability journey.

Divine’s success

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 £14 million; Divine has successfully established the brand in some of the most valuable markets in the world. Divine has an organic collection that is 100 percent organic, vegan and certified Fairtrade. The 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.

‘I started at Divine over 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. 20 years ago Fairtrade awareness was 7% – now it is more than 80% and it also has a fantastic level of trust. I think Divine Chocolate has been part of building that 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.’ Sophi Tranchell, CEO, Divine Chocolate.

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.

Hortência Pina, Cocoa Farmer and Logistics Manager, Cecaq 11 São Tomé.
Sidie Sesay, Fairtrade cocoa farmer who supplies cocoa for Divine
Sidie Sesay, a Fairtrade cocoa farmer who supplies cocoa beans to Divine

Next up

Coffee beans held in hands

Cafédirect: Direct trade and Fairtrade

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