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CAFES Students

Fair Trade Chocolates

Cal Poly Chocolates is the only university-based organic and Fair Trade Certified chocolate business in the U.S. Launched in 2000 as an Enterprise Project of the university's Food Science and Nutrition Department, the enterprise gives students the opportunity to learn the art and science of chocolate-making while acquiring the skills required to run a small business. The student staff of four supervises a class of ten students who are responsible for the product development, production, packaging, marketing and distribution of their chocolate products. The enterprise (FSN 201/401) is open to all majors with an interest in chocolate or culinary management. Cal Poly Chocolates include milk chocolate, bittersweet, peanut butter crunch and peppermint crunch bars, chocolate-dipped macadamia nuts, cashew caramels, and butterscotch s'mores. Cal Poly Chocolates are available in campus markets, San Luis Obispo area stores, online through the Cal Poly Food and Wine catalog, and by special order.

The Cal Poly Chocolates enterprise serves as a model of responsible business practices. The cocoa beans for Cal Poly Chocolates originate in Peru, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic and are certified by the national organization Fair Trade USA. Students are involved with every step of the manufacturing process, and are therefore challenged to consider every step of the chocolate supply chain, from cocoa bean to finished product. Enterprise students have the opportunity to explore the quality and sustainability issues involved with cocoa sourcing, the chemistry of the tempering process and how it impacts flavor and texture, and the marketing research associated with product development.

The Cal Poly Fair Trade Club works to encourage the university and the entire community to become aware of fair trade issues and support fair trade buying. The CP Fair Trade Club is part of a network of students, the United Students for Fair Trade, promoting the far-reaching benefits of consumer consciousness.

Chocolate is an indulgence few of us can resist. In fact, worldwide demand for the sweet treat has been growing ceaselessly for the past century, with consumption heavily concentrated in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S. alone, chocolate products are a $16 billion industry, and a nearly ubiquitous component of menus and markets. The simple joy of a chocolate candy bar, brownie or mocha latte is actually the end-product of a long and complex global process beginning with the cultivation of the Theobroma cacao tree within a narrow band of rainforests centered around the equator. Most of the world's cocoa is grown by small-scale family farmers in developing nations, whose crops are often a key component of their nation's economy, but who are tasked with intensive manual labor while facing unsteady yields and unstable market prices. Many have begun cutting back the shade of native forest, which is the favored habitat of the cacao tree, a practice with short-term gains in yield, but long-term environmental consequences.

Cocoa certification systems aim to bridge the economic interests of industry and communities of small-scale cocoa farmers by finding and funding programs that raise their standards of economic livelihood and environmental stewardship. Globally-recognized Fair Trade certification incorporates standards which aim to ensure farmers receive a living wage and safe working conditions, revenues are reinvested in farms and communities, and that sustainable farming methods are used to the fullest extent possible. Similar systems have been developed by the world's largest chocolate companies. Mars, Kraft, and Hershey's have all recognized the importance of socially and environmentally sustainable practices of cocoa production for the future of their industry. They have teamed with the World Cocoa Foundation, Rainforest Alliance, and Utz Certified to support economic development and improved farming practices in the major cocoa-growing regions of the world, and have committed to the goal of certified sustainable sourcing of all chocolate products within the next decade.


Cal Poly
Cal Poly Chocolates
Cal Poly Grown
Cal Poly Fair Trade Club
United Students for Fair Trade

Fair Trade Certification
World Cocoa Foundation
Rainforest Alliance
Utz Certified
Fair Trade USA

Theobroma cacao Genome Projects
Cacao Genome Database
International Cocoa Genome Sequencing Consortium

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