The 8 Best Fair Trade Chocolates of 2022

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For many, chocolate is a part of everyday life. We use it for baking, nibble on it for a nightly treat, and sip it hot during winter months. But chocolate production isn’t always such a sweet story, as many companies use chocolate from cocoa beans harvested by child labor, while farmers are often paid unfair wages for their labor. 

Fair trade chocolates avoid the worst of these practices, with fair trade certifications ensuring that farmers and chocolate workers are paid fair wages, insulating producers from cocoa's day-to-day commodity price fluctuations. Fair trade cooperatives allow chocolate workers to command a premium, while providing opportunities to women.

We've assembled the best fair trade chocolates, so you can minimize contributing toward the exploitation of chocolate workers.

Fair-trade certified, USDA organic, and GMO-free chocolates from Alter Eco are not just delicious, they’re ethically sourced as well. The company works with small-scale, fair trade farmers to source its chocolate, and that's just the beginning of its eco-friendly practices. Alter Eco is not only a certified B Corporation, but also carbon neutral, offsetting 100% of its emissions. It also uses either recyclable or compostable packing for all of its products. For the ultimate dark chocolate treat, try the 90% cacao Super Blackout chocolate bar, or grab a box of assorted truffles to to find your favorite flavor.

Best Splurge: Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate

Tony’s Chocolonely Chocolate

Amazon

According to the International Cocoa Initiative, 1.56 million children perform child labor on cocoa farms in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, while a further 30,000 people are victims of slavery. Tony's Chocolonely is not only producing chocolate without slave labor, but also working toward slavery-free supply chains that can be reproduced across the industry.

In addition to using Fairtrade certified cocoa and sugar, Tony's Chocolonely adheres to additional practices meant to move the chocolate industry toward fully slave-free production, including paying higher prices, supporting the professionalization of farming cooperatives, and making their supply chain fully traceable (you can read more in their annual reports).

Of course, they also make great chocolate bars, including unique flavors like milk caramel cookie, white raspberry popping candy, dark milk pretzel toffee, and dark pecan coconut.

Best Newcomer: Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Chocolate

Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Chocolate

Dr. Bronner's

Yes, the family-owned, all-natural soap company with the wordy label is branching out into organic, fair trade, and vegan chocolate. Announced in 2021, Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Chocolate bars begin with 70% cocoa made from regenerative organic beans and sweetened with lower-glycemic coconut sugar.

As with Alter Eco, Dr. Bronner's is now one of just a handful of companies to produce fair trade and organic cocoa beans, circumventing the highly centralized and exploitative supply chain that produces most of the world's chocolate.

Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Chocolate is available in six flavors: salted whole almonds, salted almond butter, crunchy hazelnut butter, roasted whole hazelnuts, salted dark chocolate, and smooth coconut praline.

Best Chocolate Chips: Lily's Baking Chips

Lily's Baking Chips

Amazon

Make your chocolate chip cookies and baked goods a bit healthier without compromising on flavor. Lily’s chocolate is gluten free, with no added sugar, plus it's Fair Trade certified and made with non-GMO ingredients. Every variety of Lily's Baking Chips are sweetened with zero-calorie stevia, instead of refined sugars.

Flavors include dark chocolate, semisweet chocolate, pumpkin spice, peppermint, butterscotch, chocolate mint, milk chocolate, chocolate salted caramel, white chocolate, and multi-colored unicorn swirl. In addition to their chocolate chips, Lily’s chocolate is also available in a baking bar form.

A percentage of profits generated from Lily's chocolate is pledged to nonprofit organizations dedicated to treating childhood cancers.

Best Milk Chocolate: Divine Milk Chocolate

Divine Milk Chocolate

Divine

Beyond third-party certification from the Fairtrade Foundation and certified B Corporation status, Divine Chocolate is also partially owned by its farmers, with the cooperative Kuapa Kokoo Farmers' Union and its 100,000 Ghanaian cocoa farmers holding 40% of the company's board team and receiving direct profit dividends. The result is a remarkably transparent supply chain that operates to the benefit of its workers.

Aside from Divine’s milk chocolate bars—which include a sea salt and toffee flavor—the company also produces a variety of dark and white chocolate bars. While all Divine bars are vegan and use non-GMO ingredients, there is also a separate line of organic dark chocolate bars.

Best Dark Chocolate: Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Bars

Alter Eco Classic Blackout Chocolate

Amazon

Anyone searching for an intense dark chocolate experience need look no further than Alter Eco's 100% cacao Total Blackout Organic Dark Chocolate bars. Or, you can opt for something just a tad sweeter, with the 90% cacao Super Blackout or 85% Classic Blackout.

Like other chocolate bars in the Alter Eco lineup, their dark chocolate selections are made from Fair Trade USA certified ingredients, including organic cacao, organic cocoa butter, organic raw cane sugar, and organic vanilla beans. Alter Eco is both a Certified B Corporation and a carbon neutral company.

Additional dark chocolate flavors include Sea Salt, Mint Blackout, Quinoa Crunch, Salted Almonds, Salt & Malt, Coconut Toffee, and Raspberry Blackout.

Unreal has a variety of chocolate bars, nut butter cups, and bite-sized "gems" certified vegan by the Vegan Action Group, including dark chocolate coconut bars, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, dark chocolate peanut gems, dark chocolate almond butter cups, and more.

Unreal uses organic, non-GMO ingredients and up to 51% less sugar than leading brands without cutting corners with corn syrup or other sweeteners. All chocolate from Unreal is Fair Trade certified, which involves both third-party verification of safe working conditions and high minimum prices paid to cocoa farmers.

Best with Almonds: Endangered Species Chocolate

Endangered Species Chocolate Bar

Endangered Species Chocolate

Endangered Species Chocolate pledges 10% of their annual net profits to conservation organizations like the National Forest Foundation and The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, donating more than $2.6 million since 2016.

With so many available varieties of Endangered Species chocolate bars, there are a lot of opportunities to contribute. Its selection of almond bars is particularly robust, including the flavors Oat Milk, Coconut & Almonds + Dark Chocolate; Oat Milk, Sea Salt & Almonds + Dark Chocolate; Almonds, Sea Salt + Dark Chocolate; and Cranberries, Almonds + Dark Chocolate. If almonds aren't your thing, there are more than a dozen other varieties as well.

All Endangered Species chocolate is Fairtrade certified, ensuring fair labor practices and premium pricing to cocoa farmers in West Africa. Many of its varieties are also vegan and non-GMO certified.

Final Verdict

When it comes to fair trade chocolate, few combine supply chain transparency, environmental initiatives, and organic ingredients quite like Alter Eco (view at Walmart). We love that they offset their emissions through tree planting initiatives, while their eco-friendly packaging makes the entire buying process sweet. We also dig Tony’s Chocolonely (view at Amazon) for their efforts against the child labor and modern slavery contaminating cocoa production.

What to Look for in Fair-Trade Chocolate

Certifications

Products that are Fair Trade certified will usually have a visible label. Fair-trade certifications ensure that products go through a third-party verification for fair labor practices, in addition to setting a high floor for prices, ensuring that more of the profit from cocoa returns to the farmers. Fairtrade America and Fairtrade Certified are two common fair-trade certifications.

Ingredients

Added sugars and chemicals can be a sign of a less-than-stellar product, so we suggest looking at the ingredients in addition to certifications. Since fair trade certifications don't guarantee the use of organic practices, look for products that are non-GMO, vegan, or organic certified.

Literature

Do your own research on chocolate companies by heading to their websites. The chocolate companies in our roundup are providing an alternative to the exploitation found throughout the mainstream cocoa supply chain, which often means they are happy to evangelize their efforts. Several of our recommended chocolate companies offer annual reports that can provide incredible detail and insight into their production process and other initiatives, including Alter Eco and Tony's Chocolonely.

FAQs

Is Fair Trade really fair?

According to Mark Lundy, the Sustainable Food Systems leader at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, fair trade is best at addressing cocoa prices, ensuring more profit returns to farmers, but that guarantee can only go so far.

“Global commodity farmers may or may not be able to achieve a living income through cocoa production. This depends on pricing, something fair trade addresses, but also productivity, which fair trade doesn’t address,” Lundy told Treehugger.

While fair trade offers high prices and sets aside money for local community development, its still supplying a for-profit business model that's forced to compete against non-fair trade chocolate. This makes consumer choices particularly important: since fair trade can't compete on price, it must make up for it through market demand.

Does Fair-Trade chocolate cost more?

While fair trade chocolate is typically more expensive than mass-produced chocolate, fair trade chocolate doesn’t always cost more. Fair trade chocolates are usually priced competitively with other specialty chocolate. If you do see a higher price, take a look at the ingredient list and where the product is coming from. Higher-quality ingredients usually yield a more expensive product, regardless of Fair Trade certifications. 

When did Fair-Trade chocolate start?

In 1994, the Fairtrade certified Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate, made with cocoa from Belize, became the first fair trade certified chocolate. The fair trade movement itself began in 1946 when Edna Ruth Byler started importing needlecrafts from low-income women in South America, which laid the groundwork for the first fair trade organization, the Mennonite Central Committee.

Why Trust Treehugger?

For this piece, we consulted with Mark Lundy, the Sustainable Food Systems leader at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, for expert information on fair trade chocolate. We also looked into numerous fair trade certifications to see what the process involves and what is required of businesses getting certified.

Treehugger is committed to helping our readers reduce the environmental impact of their day-to-day lives. Author Amanda Ogle is a veteran reporter who loves writing about sustainability and believes it is important that we all strive to be as environmentally friendly as we can. She enjoys giving readers an honest idea of where to buy sustainable products online that make a difference to our environment.

View Article Sources
  1. Annual report 2020. International Cocoa Initiative.