The Cocoa Value Chain

The cocoa value chain starts with the fruit of the tropical cacao, or cocoa tree. Farmers within 25 degrees of the equator grow cacao, often as part of a variety of seasonal crops, and harvest the fruits weekly. In West Africa, where most of the world’s cacao is grown, the cocoa value chain often goes from farmers to middlemen collectors to local buyers (in some cases, this is the government) to local processors or large international buyers who distribute it to chocolate makers and cosmetics companies

Cocoa In Ghana

To illustrate this, let’s look at the cocoa value chain in the world’s 2nd-largest cacao producer: Ghana. The cocoa value chain in Ghana starts with a base of around 800,000 cocoa farmers, most of whom have 2-5 hectares of land planted with cocoa. Because cocoa prices paid to farmers are quite low in Ghana — around $100USD per 62.5 kg bag — most farmers can’t afford to buy fertilizers, pesticides, and equipment needed to increase yields. Additionally, cocoa prices in Ghana are set by the government via the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD). Almost all Ghanaian cocoa is bought for the same price, no matter how high the quality nor how far the farmers traveled to reach the buying center.

Some farmers are members of a cooperative which processes their cacao, lowering how much money goes to farmers, but also lowering transportation costs. There are a few organizations working with the government to buy higher quality cocoa at higher prices, notably Kuapa Kokoo Limited, but they represent a small portion of buying activities. The cocoa value chain in Ghana starts with farmers, continues with government or government-certified buyers, and is then processed domestically or sent abroad. The cocoa processed domestically is turned into cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder, and then largely sent to international markets.

World Cocoa Market

Of the cocoa beans shipped abroad, most are purchased by international distributors via the world cocoa market. Buyers store those beans in warehouses, some of the largest being in New York and Amsterdam, and then distribute cacao regionally from there. Cocoa can remain in warehouses for months until it’s sold. Once it reaches a chocolate factory, it goes through a complex process to turn it into the product we know and love.

Shortening the Cocoa Value Chain with Direct Trade

Recently there’s been a movement towards more directly-sourced cocoa, shortening the cocoa value chain to go from farmers to distributors to factories. This shortens the transit time for cocoa and allows more of the final cost of cocoa to go back to the farmers, honoring cocoa quality over quantity. Buying cocoa directly from farmers is one of the characteristics of the craft chocolate movement, which aims to make the cocoa value chain more transparent and beneficial for all parties.

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    Ethics is a key ingredient to the world’s best chocolate. Our selection supports a supply chain that is more transparent than fair trade — and tastier!

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    We showcase chocolate crafted from fine quality cacao. You can taste the uniqueness and complexity of different origins, unlike mass-produced chocolate.


What makes Bar & Cocoa different?

At Bar & Cocoa, we're not just another chocolate shop; we're a chocolate experience. We meticulously curate a selection of the finest chocolates from artisanal makers around the globe. Our focus is on quality, ethical sourcing, and sustainability. We go the extra mile to educate our customers about the complexities of cacao cultivation and chocolate making through detailed product descriptions, flavor profiles, and origin stories. When you shop with us, you're not just indulging in a treat; you're becoming part of a community that values the art and science of chocolate making.

What is bean to bar chocolate?

Bean to bar chocolate is chocolate that is made from scratch by the same producer, starting from the raw cacao beans and ending with the finished chocolate bars and treats. This process allows the chocolate maker to control every aspect of the chocolate making, such as roasting, grinding, conching, tempering, and molding. Bean to bar chocolate is often more flavorful, nuanced, and ethical than mass-produced chocolate. It reflects the artistry and craftsmanship of the maker and the quality and origin of the cacao.

How do you source your chocolate? Is it ethical and sustainable?

We source our chocolate from award winning craft makers who use high-quality cacao beans and go beyond fair trade. We work with over 50 fine chocolate makers from around the world who share our values and passion for real chocolate. Some of the countries we source our chocolate from include Peru, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua,, Philippines, India, and many more. We are always on the lookout for new and exciting origins and makers to add to our collection.

Do you have vegan, or keto-friendly or soy free chocolate?

Yes, we do! We have a variety of chocolate options that cater to different dietary preferences and needs. You can browse our collections of organic chocolate, vegan chocolate, keto-friendly chocolate, sugar-free chocolate, dairy-free chocolate, gluten-free chocolate, soy-free chocolate, nut-free chocolate, and more on our website. We also provide detailed information on each product page about the ingredients and allergens of each product.

How do you pick your chocolate makers?

When it comes to selecting our chocolate offerings, we're basically the chocolate sommeliers you never knew you needed. Our process starts with rigorous research and tastings. Yeah, it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. We scour the globe for artisanal and craft chocolate makers who share our commitment to quality, ethical sourcing, and innovation in flavor.

We scrutinize everything from cacao origin to production methods and flavor profiles. Only the best of the best make it into our curated collection, offering you a world-class chocolate experience in every bite. Each bar has a story, a unique flavor profile, and the power to transport you to a different part of the globe. We're not just selling chocolate; we're offering an edible journey.