June 2nd 2013 Mott Green has died. It is with the deepest sadness that I add this. I am, as so many of his friends and family are, heartbroken that this absolute revolutionary and utterly extraordinary man died suddenly and tragically yesterday. Here is a link to our friend Chantal Coady’s moving words.
Chocolate is never just chocolate.
I was first introduced to The Grenada Chocolate Company my friend Chantal Coady of Rococo Chocolate about 4 years ago. Chantal’s description of the plantation captivated me and once I’d tasted this smooth easy chocolate there was no returning to anything less. Chantal described Mott Green, who heads up The Grenadian Chocolate Company, as an anarchist and having been spent a week in Grenada with food writer Xanthe Clay (we survived to tell the tale of his amazing chocolate and several rides in Mott’s van! ) I can confirm that the combination of Grenada’s perfect growing conditions and Motts streak of doing things his own way has resulted in one of the most delicious chocolate you could wish for. You can read Xanthe article here. I visited the plantation in February of this year and discovered that Motts model is unique.
I believe that is is set to revolutionise the chocolate world – you see the current model of making chocolate is a left over from colonial times and we still exploit the farmers today. The farmers sell their beans for what amounts to about 6% of the total value of a bar of chocolate.
In Mott’s model his company is 100% owned by the farmers .. it is totally unique and I don’t know of any other chocolate company on the world that is 100% owned by the farmers. The largest producer of cocoa in the world is the Ivory Coast, where child labor is common. I was introduced to a book called The Bitter Truth by Carol Off which tells a chilling tale of the reality of life for cocoa farmers around the world, but cocoa is also grown in Ghana, Nigeria and more recently Malaysia and Indonesia but it is almost all processed in the West.
In most of these countries the cocoa is grown almost entirely on small family farms. Even in Grenada Cocoa farming is a small and unsophisticated business as the way cocoa trees grow makes mechanization impractical. The beautiful deep burgundy through to banana yellow pods are organically grown and transported across boulders over a river to be fermented just 400 yards from where they are grown. They are then transported to the chocolate factory, which is a combination of modified antiques and crazy looking contraptions, which are actually really clever machines that are built to purpose by Mott. The factory us like a cross between Wallace and grommet and Willy Wonka.
It is in stark contrast to Cocoa farmers across the world, who are some of the poorest people in the world. A recent report by the Fairtrade foundation explains that millions of cocoa farmers really struggle to provide our annual chocolate bonanza. Over fifty million people who depend on growing cocoa for their livelihoods – especially in West Africa – have to survive on $2 a day and most cocoa farmers are still not getting a fair price. The model that most chocolate is based on means that most of the money from the cocoa trade is made after the beans have been processed into chocolate products and cocoa farmers typically receive 6% of the final price of chocolate paid by consumers, so by The Grenada Chocolate Company being part owned by the farmers as well as making the chocolate just a mile from where the cocoa pods are grown, has literally turned the traditional chocolate model on it’s head.
Mott isn’t just an anarchist he is an idealist who lives his conviction. People who live their convictions are rare to find and yet Mott managed to find a group of people who also share his passion and dream to live in a fairer world who are also making it real through a movement called Fair Transport. This beautiful 32 meter Brigantine has just transported over 50,000 bars of The Grenada Chocolate back 5,000 miles and so the chocolate is carbon neutral.