Picture this: you’re at the grocery store after a long day at work. You made the foolish mistake of shopping on an empty stomach, and as you wander the aisles, you find yourself craving something sweet. You decide to treat yourself and reach for the cheapest chocolate bar you can find. Here’s what’s not so sweet: that chocolate bar may have been made with unfair labor practices, trapping already vulnerable workers in unsafe work environments. By prioritizing potential profits over the people caught in the middle, today’s mainstream cocoa industry perpetuates modern-day slavery.
Fair Trade certifications often add credibility to certain companies as they join the growing list of eco-conscious businesses. Their easily recognizable logo features the silhouette of a person in front of a blue and green circle that resembles the earth. Companies eligible to be Fair Trade Certified™ have to adhere to Fair Trade USA’s strict four-part standards. According to FairTradeCertified.org, this means that a true Fair Trade company should prioritize and actively work toward working conditions, environmental protection, sustainable livelihoods, and Community Development Funds.
Here are the top five Fair Trade Certified™ candy brands that you should reach for the next time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
As the first organic Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa producer in the United States, Theo Chocolate prioritizes sourcing their ingredients in an ethical manner that pays farmers a living wage. Since they were founded in 2006, the company has sourced their sustainably grown cacao from 10 countries in Central America, South America, and Africa, benefiting different environments as well as their communities. Best-selling products include dark chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and coconut bites. Find them at Whole Foods or Sprouts.
Endangered Species Chocolate
This brand prioritizes the planet and its people in several different ways. The company donates 10% of its annual proceeds to conservation groups, donating close to $3 million since 2016. They attribute this to their Fair Trade sourcing process, which empowers farmers in west Africa. Focusing mainly on their dark chocolate and truffle varieties, Endangered Species Chocolate never contains any artificial additives or sweeteners, so you can always enjoy a taste of pure goodness. Find them in your grocery store candy aisle.
While every UNREAL product is produced with Fair Trade chocolate, the company also offers options for customers with different dietary needs. This includes a list on their website of which candies are certified vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, and/or made with lower sugar levels (up to 51% less than “regular” candy brands, such as Hershey’s). Whether you prefer chocolate shell candy, nut butter cups, or candy bars, UNREAL seems to have something for every potential customer. Find them at Natural Grocers, Fry’s, and Sprouts.
Driven by a “farmers first” philosophy, the goal of Equal Exchange is to build what they call a Democratic Food System, which empowers producers through the Fair Trade process. The company partners with Fair Trade Certified™ farms to produce chocolate, coffee, and tea. Aside from their coffee bean blends and their tea and hot chocolate mixes, some of Equal Exchange’s most popular candy products include individually wrapped mini chocolate bar and standard-size bars. Find them at Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods.
What sets this company apart is its unique cocoa bean-tracing technology, which is their online measure of success for showing customers exactly which farm their chocolate comes from. Originally based in the Netherlands, they’ve expanded their reach to over 15 countries since their founding in 2005. Enjoy different milk and dark chocolate varieties in the form of Big Bars, Small Bars, or Tiny Tonys (individually wrapped mini bars). Find them at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and CVS.
With so many sustainably sourced options to choose from, finding Fair Trade Certified™ candy brands doesn’t have to be complicated. Look for these eco-friendly favorites the next time you go grocery shopping.