Taste, something that changes the course of your life forever…
Once in a blue moon, you experience – and in my case, taste – something that changes the course of your life forever. My magical moment was in 2002, when a package of Grenadian chocolate was hand-delivered to my boutique chocolate store in the heart of London’s King’s Road.
The look and feel of this chocolate was immediately intriguing. The bar was beautifully wrapped, and the paper sleeve showed bright cocoa pods hanging from verdant trees, with the Caribbean Sea in the background. The words ‘The Grenada Chocolate Company’ were spelled out in red. The most startling revelation, however, came with tasting the bar: it screamed quality and scrumptious luxury!
CHOCOLATE WITH A CONSCIENCE
The story on the back of the paper sleeve was equally extraordinary: a small group of farmers and villagers had taken the raw materials they grew in their backyard – Grenadian cocoa beans – and turned them into luscious chocolate bars. Instead of just growing and selling cocoa beans, these ingenious entrepreneurs has thus created a groundbreaking value added business model. I was astounded.
It was not long before I was seduced into visiting the island and introducing myself to the extraordinary visionaries behind this chocolate. I met the late Mot Green, who was one of the founders of the Grenada Chocolate Company (GCC). Mott and I embarked on a mutual mentor-mentee relationship. Mott always said that Grenada is full of optimistic people who love a challenge, and that the realisation of his chocolate factory dream would not have been possible without the support of the locals. His business venture reflected this belief. He set up the Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative, which pays out premiums every time farmers harvest cocoa that meets strict organic certification standards. Mott also forged key partnerships with other locals, who committed to Mott’s vision for a fully organic chocolate production business. Many farmers committed to transforming their land to be 100% organic, whilst other locals provided sail transport to make GCC chocolate the first zero-carbon chocolate to reach Europe this century.
Sustainability and innovation are among the core values of the business. The GCC factory has solar panels all over its roof to ensure a clean supply of energy to its machinery. The GCC also created machines to help local production of essential ingredients for fine chocolate, such as cocoa butter.
A DUPLICABLE MODEL
The whole venture created a real buzz on the island, and a halo effect much further afield. GCC chocolate bars have won medals from the UK and USA for their fine flavour, and the company’s other chocolate products, integrating local ingredients such almonds, rum, and guava cheese, have become famous throughout the world. Indeed, today Grenada is renowned not just for its precious spices, such as nutmeg, but for its cocoa and chocolate. Businesspeople across the globe have also looked to the GCC to replicate its economic model, which put farmers at the centre of micro-economies.
I myself have invested in a cocoa farm in Grenada, and I am always on the lookout to invest in more
Grenadian land that I can convert to the production of organic cocoa beans to take advantage of the huge demand for Grenadian chocolate.
In Memory of Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, Grenada