Doisy & Dam are taking on the challenge of making one of the world's most-loved industry's more sustainable and ethical. Below, we hear from a member of the team making dark, vegan chocolate fun, incredibly tasty and accessible to all.
What are the big issues facing the chocolate industry?
Within the chocolate industry, there’s a growing desire for greater transparency – and knowing that the product not only tastes good but is made well and responsibly too. When it comes to sourcing, it’s great seeing more attention being paid to the growers and their communities, and making sure that the growers are treated ethically, fairly and respectfully. Using ethical cocoa only is one of the key pillars of our business, and we’re loving the some great work from the likes of Tony’s and Divine, helping the chocolate industry make slow improvements and change for the better. There’s also a big focus on packaging and moving away from single-use plastic (something we’re working on as we speak!). We’ve seen this already with Nestle moving Smarties into recyclable packaging – it’s companies like that with big R&D budgets that can help lead the way.
Creating palm-oil free, vegan, low-sugar chocolate with an ethical supply chain can't have been easy. What's been the biggest challenge so far?
We’ve got some pretty hefty tenets we stand by as a company and with all the chocolate we make. We never, ever use palm oil – a product that’s widely used in the cocoa and grocery sector – as it is so heavily linked with deforestation and we don’t want to harm the planet in the making of our chocolate. Palm oil is popular for good reason. It is a great stabiliser, and easily melted down, making it great to manufacture with. Purposefully not including it in our products has made life a little trickier for Hannah, our New Product Developer, as she faces challenges when creating new delicious chocolates, that need to look, feel and taste like the chocolate we all know and love, but without any of the nasties. A particular challenge was the creation of our almond and hazelnut Nuttercups. Without a stabiliser in the chocolate, the natural fats from the nuts effect the quality, colour and texture. Nevertheless, she persisted, and trialled lots different ratio of nut butter to dark chocolate, and eventually cracked it to create the perfect Nuttercup, all without a drop of palm oil. Nice work, Hannah.
We also pride ourselves on using ethically sourced cocoa from brilliant boots-on-the-ground suppliers, and that comes at an additional cost to the cocoa bought buy the big players, so we have to work hard to explain to customers why we’re worth paying more for, and more expensive than others chocolates sat next to us on shelf.
Plus, we’re making dark chocolate fun. It’s typically always been associated with a grown-up taste, a little bit bitter and a healthier, more sensible option, but we’re here to show that you don’t have to compromise on taste to enjoy a better-for-you snack. We have a full portfolio of chocolate in lots of different formats (sharing, gifting, seasonal, etc.) to make sure we’re making dark chocolate fun, relevant and available everywhere.
Could you tell us a little bit more about the sourcing of your cocoa?
Wherever we can, we work with a brilliant supplier called Luker. They're family owned, and have been sourcing Colombian cocoa from farming communities for over 100 years. The work Luker does in the local communities is truly inspiring. Setting up social projects, providing education for farmers - no matter who they grow cocoa for. And, above all, creating sustainable opportunities for the 7,500 families who rely on growing cocoa to survive.
When it’s not possible to use Luker’s cocoa and we have to use a different couverture (type of cocoa), we make sure to use Fairtrade certified cocoa, so that farmers are taken care of.
You've just completed a crowdfunding campaign! What can people expect next from Doisy & Dam?
Great question! We’ve just launched a subscription service online, where chocolate fans can ensure they’re never caught short of their favourite chocolates, and unlock a reoccurring 10% discount whilst they’re at it. We’re also just about to launch a delicious new bit of innovation that’s already the team’s new favourite – so we’re excited to see what the rest of the UK makes of it!
This has been the latest in our sustainable spotlight series where we give a platform to brands, teams and individuals looking to create real change within their industry. Read our previous editions over at Sustainable Spotlight.