Method Profile: Taza Chocolate Embracing Transparency as Guidance

Within social enterprise, methods you choose in establishing core values are the base of your operations. Everything flows from your approach, and identifying a proper method helps you effectively fulfill your team’s initiative.

Together, we’ll be profiling interesting social enterprises to discuss an anchor method in their strive for social good. The term “anchor method” is to express the intentional and grounded nature of the approaches propelling a social enterprise forward.

This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise initiative improvements.

In today’s post, we’ll look into food industry social enterprise Taza Chocolate leveraging transparency. The company produces chocolate products through direct partnerships with farmers.

Knowing The Company

Taza Chocolate turns ethically sourced cacao into stone ground chocolate to bring a bold taste, which Taza Chocolate describes as “rustic intensity”.

The official chocolate factory is based in Somerville, MA, but the company operates with their Taza Trade Direct approach, meaning no middleman is used. Taza Chocolate chooses to work with farmers who “respect the environment and fair labor practices”. They also make it a priority to meet face-to-face with their partners in their respective lands. Maintaining this relationship is their number one commitment in the five commitments they make for their Direct Trade Program.

“We created the chocolate industry’s first third-party certified Direct Trade cacao sourcing program, to ensure quality and transparency for all.”

Taza pays a premium above the Fair Trade minimum to ensure a fair and excellent experience for the farmers, company, and supporters who consume their product. The premium is at least $500 above the market price, giving farmers a 15-20% premium. According to Taza Chocolate, they pay no less than $2,800 per metric ton for cacao. Only Certified USDA Organic cacao is used for production in their bean-to-bar chocolate factory.

You’ll see “…seriously good and fair for all” is the stance on their initiative, and is actually a repeated notion on their website.

A Unique Approach in Transparency

In Taza Chocolate operations, they consistently blend transparency efforts. An emphasis on upfront dialogue is used in big and small ways.

The most noticeable transparency is their relationship with the farmers. There is a direct interaction with farmers, and files for each of the farming partners can be found on the company website in a report. Their last report includes farms in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Ghana. (profile list updates each year) The profile goes into detail about each farm, including how many farmers are employed and describing the relation with these farm systems.

Fittingly, the report is a Direct Trade Transparency Report. Farmer profiles are one portion of the information provided. In a brief infographic, Taza Chocolate states details such as the amount being paid to the farmers, and mentions that 100% of their cacao is grown in “agroforestry” systems. Major operational developments are also summarized during the report’s “year in review” segment. The brief discussion explains the weather’s impact on farm crops, to the movement of their inventory and other reflections.

Referring back to the five commitments, the  company’s Direct Trade Commitments specifically state how they will uphold and verify staying true to their mission. For example, providing plane tickets as proof of their farmer-relationship commitment. They don’t only have the commitments listed, but have an outside source verify the commitment.

“…our five Direct Trade claims are independently verified each year by Quality Certification Services, a USDA-accredited organic certifier based in Gainesville, Florida.”

Making use of media, the company website added an almost 5-minute long video showing the inside factory operations. No verbal dialogue is used, but the video is informative. The visual places a face and personality to the entity of the social enterprise.

Transparency Being a Tool

The company’s values seem to be fueled by the fact that they are transparent. Can you imagine another company revealing functions so deep within their operation?

What is transparency influencing in their relation with the public? How is transparency guiding the company decisions? Consider the questions they ask themselves.

How do we properly attain ethical sources?

We can use transparency to build rapport with farmers through real relations, and establish a defined expectation of what we both give and receive.

What will help grow loyalty among consumers?

We can use transparency in a personal touch by revealing our stories showing the vulnerability and passion behind our company.

What way can we become a trustworthy social enterprise?

We can use transparency, and make the ways we implement our values accessible to the public.

Transparency seems to be the anchor method Taza Chocolate’s operations is strongly guided by. On the official website, the company states:

“Transparency reveals a more complex reality: interwoven ecosystems and institutions underpinning the production and transport of organic cacao from farm to factory.”

Applicable Takeaway

An anchor based on a business ethic, such as transparency, can be a reference point in the approach of social enterprise. One beneficial experiment could be considering what your social enterprise is using as a reference point.

Taza Chocolates’s interesting dedication to incorporating transparency completes this profile.

People Helping People is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community is a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check-in for more conversation-starting content.

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