As a dark chocolate fanatic, I’ve tasted almost all notable dark chocolate brands in the market and have come up with few of my favorites—Venchi is definitely on top of the list. Inherited its Italian craftsmanship, Venchi’s Organic Ecuador 85% Dark Chocolate Bars showcase an intense flavor profile of dark cocoa with floral and fruity aroma, finishing with hints of wood. You’d be surprised to see that there are no artificial ingredients added other than cocoa, cocoa butter, and cane sugar, all organic. The company sources its ingredients directly by partnering with local Ecuadorian farmers with ethical and environmental responsibilities, and it is deeply invested in water source regulation and energy conservation. Overall, Venchi has demonstrated significant efforts in promoting sustainability from its sourcing, production, and retail practices and is further committed in the long-run by collaborating with ethical business entities.
From the product description, Venchi describes it as using “100% natural ingredients, less sugar, and no artificial ingredients” and lists out detailed components of the chocolate bar with percentages of organic Ecuador cocoa, organic cocoa butter, and organic cane sugar. The product is also claimed to be “gluten-free” and “don’t contain palm oil”. In order to fact-check all claims made by Venchi, I seek other sources online for confirmation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) and a project they launched with Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Ecuador, they are focusing on the conservation and sustainability of biodiversity in Napo, Ecuador and strengthening the cocoa supply chain with a huge emphasis on local farmers. The project has both environmental and economic impact by connecting local farmers directly with global business partners to ensure ethical sourcing and better wages. By 2018, Venchi has purchased 13.5 tons of cocoa and benefitted around 1,150 families in the region through their current sourcing model, proving its claim of “selecting premium ingredients” with social impact. Furthermore, palm oil has been understood as a major driver of deforestation, contributing to dramatic increase in greenhouse gases, exploiting workers and adopting child labor. Venchi’s commitment in ridding the use of palm oil in its products is in no doubt a worthy progress in environmental conservation and social justice. In addition, Venchi also implemented new eco-friendly packaging which are 100% compostable, and they are working towards the goal of making all items in stores (napkins, plates, cups, etc.) to be all composable as well. The efforts that Venchi is taking as a premium chocolatier in sustainability and ethical fronts are comprehensive through every step of the value chain. However, one concern is its source of organic cane sugar while knowing the sugar industry is notorious for oppressive labor practices. Venchi has failed to disclose its major suppliers.
High standards in quality and awareness in eco-friendliness have manifested itself through Venchi’s production cycle. All the way from its source, the Ecuadorian cocoa farmers adopt an ancestral agroforestry system called the Charkra in its cocoa production, a practice in which farmers keep the biodiversity of various plant species and mimic the forest’s natural habitat for the growth of its cocoa. This particular way of plantation provides families with food security and medicinal plants while extending forest habitat and improving local forestry system in the long-run. In fact, the Charkra system enables the cocoa to absorb the flavors of biodiversity around them and therefore intensifies the taste with a blended fruity and floral aroma. From there, Venchi directly sources cocoa from the ingenious families and process them in their pure form, without any additional ingredients or partnerships with big cocoa processors who have a reputation of unethical sourcing practices. During their production cycle, the company states on its environment page the efforts they undertake in minimizing waste and pollution, investing in water source management, and proactively adopting energy-reducing techniques. They claim to save 50% of the total electricity purchased by 2020, though this number could not be verified at the moment. Continuously, Venchi is constantly looking to find innovative packaging alternatives in the market, and the company also tries to bring more disclosure into its production process by documenting on Youtube and leading public workshops for consumers.
Venchi was found in 1878 by Silviano Venchi in Turin, Italy with his devoted passion to experiment on chocolate. The company promises to deliver “delicious, healthy, natural” chocolate made with the best ingredients of highest qualities. Starting from 2009, Venchi changed its production to all gluten-free, with no hydrogenated vegetable fats, additives, artificial flavors, and chemical sweetness. This practice truly tests the quality of raw cocoa as they will be presented to customers in their purest form with the expectation to deliver unique flavors. Venchi has also developed its organic project through direct sourcing, partnering with local Ecuadorian government and families, and certifying the use of the Chakraproduction method for conservation of forestry biodiversity with a push of economic growth. With its current social model and integrated supply chain in place, going forward, Venchi has recently teamed up with Ghana-based fruit juice start-up Koa for its innovative technique in utilizing the cocoa pulp to create a new sorbet range. This local partnership and the extraction process will enable more than 1,600 smallholders to earn extra income, with the aim to partner with 80,000 smallholders by 2030 to transform the local agricultural and economic scene. Venchi is striving to look for more opportunities to expand its business and product offerings through supporting businesses with social impact, such commitment in sustainability and equality demonstrate the company value, as they’ve claimed, at core.