3 Important Truths About Chocolate That “Big Chocolate” Doesn’t Want You to Know
The global chocolate industry is currently worth around $103 billion and is expected to grow at a fast pace to reach $170 billion by 2026*.
With such high interests at stake, the biggest companies in the chocolate market like Hershey’s, Mars, Ferrero, Lindt & Sprungli, Meiji and Mondelez International are doing everything they can to keep costs low, profit margins high and push sales of their products internationally. Unfortunately, this means that their actions aren’t always a result of their love for chocolate but are rather in line with their love for financial gains.
Keeping Chocolate Lovers in the Dark
For example, it’s in these companies’ best interest to keep consumers unaware and uneducated on where their favourite food comes from, how it is made from the cocoa bean to the finished chocolate and everything that happens in between. The less chocolate lovers know, the less they are going to find out about the misleading practices of what’s called the “Big Chocolate” industry.
Here are 3 important truths about chocolate that the big chocolate industry doesn’t want you to know, but that you are about to find out today to start making more conscious purchases around chocolate:
1. Quality chocolate at a low price can’t possibly exist
Who would expect a prestigious wine made with excellent grapes to cost $5 per bottle? Probably no one. So why would anyone expect fine chocolate made with high-quality cacao to be a bargain and costs just a few dollars per bar at the supermarket? This is what the big chocolate industry is inducing you to believe: for a ridiculously low price, you can bring home good quality chocolate. With fancy pictures of cacao pods, claims of “excellence” and “highest quality”, paid actors to play the part of expert chocolate artisans and elegant packaging, you are led to trust that high-quality chocolate can truly come at a cheap price.
All considered, fine chocolate is indeed the most affordable luxury in the food industry (for as little as $15 you get to try the most prestigious chocolate on the market). However, it is technically impossible to make great chocolate with fine and ethical ingredients for anything less than $6 per bar (a regular price, not an exaggerated one).
The goal of big chocolate brands is to wrap their cheap and low-quality products in colourful images, lovely claims and catchy designs to fool you into thinking that you are getting a great deal by purchasing good chocolate at such an affordable price. But with like any other goods on the market, there can be no “good deal” when quality, ethics and care are involved. Price tells it all, and the rest is simply deception.
2. Fine cacao has its own flavours
When fine cacao is attentively selected, properly cultivated and taken care of, it expresses a wide range of flavours that entertain and enchant the palate. This is why chocolate tasters use flavour wheels, a toll that helps them identify the tasting notes in the chocolate. These are not added ingredients, but flavours that the cacao develops because of its genetics, place of origin, post-harvesting processes and so on. Plain dark chocolate can taste fruity, floral, nutty, earthy, and even spicy! The problem is that the big chocolate industry doesn’t want you to know this.
These companies don’t select cacao for its taste, but they go hunting for the cheapest price. In their chocolate making process, they blend cacao from different origins, over roast it all to make bad flavours disappear, and the result is a bland, uninteresting, neutral taste that has little to do with the enchanting journey of flavours that fine cacao can deliver. But big chocolate companies don’t really care, since they are going to add a ton of other flavours like vanilla, milk, sugar and artificial flavourings to cover the bad taste of their cheap cacao.
Because fine cacao is too expensive for the big chocolate industry, they don’t want you to know that fine cacao has its own flavours and they are absolutely lovely.
3. The country where the cacao comes from has nothing to do with its quality
In the past couple of years, you have probably noticed the names of exotic countries on many chocolate bars at the supermarket. Those names indicate where the cacao used for those products come from. This started out as a good practice of craft chocolate makers that wanted to be transparent about the source of their cacao, but also give consumers the chance to explore the different tastes of cacao from different origins.
Now countries like Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Ghana and Colombia are written all over the chocolate bars of even the most commercial brands. Unfortunately, the origin of a product doesn’t guarantee its quality. You wouldn’t assume that ALL wine made in Italy is good by default just because of Italy’s good reputation in the wine industry, right? Or that ALL French cheese is worth its price just because it’s made in France. That would be incredibly naïve of you.
So many variables go into the making of good chocolate that the country where the cacao comes from is just a first, general, and vague information. Those who understand cacao know that even two neighbouring farms just a few miles apart can produce hugely different kinds of cacao. Therefore, what useful information can the name of an entire country give you? An appreciated specification, but in no way an indicator of quality. For the big chocolate industry, this is just another marketing tool to make their products seem high quality by slapping the names of exotic countries on their packaging.
Don’t get fooled by these big companies’ deceiving practices! Remember that good chocolate can never be cheap, the country name is not an indicator of quality, and that cacao has its own beautiful flavours that you have all the rights to discover thanks to high-quality cacao and chocolate.
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