Michael Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's, recently spoke to Candy Industry about the brand adding chocolate to its lineup, and how it works with farmers to improve the health of trees in Ghana.

Liz Parker: Dr. Bronner's was originally a soap company. What made it decide to start selling chocolate?

Michael Bronner: Dr. Bronner’s new line of magic chocolate is a vehicle for the company to spread delicious chocolate while addressing ecological and social harm in the chocolate industry by modeling better practices in the sourcing and production of Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Chocolate.

As a B Corp, and as a dedicated fair trade brand, we want to model a move away from extractive capitalism to a truly constructive model. This thinking is at the foundation of Dr. Bronner’s decision to bring our magic chocolate to market.

LP: What made it decide to sell fair trade chocolates and use a regenerative organic supply chain?

MB: We learned that many of the 800 farmers who supply the palm oil used in our bar soaps, as part of our fair trade and Regenerative Organic Certified Serendipalm project in Ghana, also grew cocoa. It was a perfect opportunity to deepen our partnership with these fair trade farmers by developing the cocoa beans they grow, along with other ingredients—all sourced to the highest standards possible—into a line of chocolate bars. 

Dr. Bronner’s new Magic Chocolate is a direct result of our work to partner with farmers to improve the health and productivity of existing palm and cocoa trees in eastern Ghana through dynamic agroforestry. 

Dynamic agroforestry is a farming practice based on the integration of complementary trees and other crops that creates biodiversity, improves yields and income streams, and avoids the use of toxic chemicals by replicating the way plant species naturally support each other in a healthy tropical forest.

Using fair trade cocoa is critical because globally, the true cost of chocolate production has been externalized and paid by cocoa-producing communities in the service of profit for a few at the expense of many—leading to wide-spread ecological destruction, climate instability, poverty, worker exploitation, child labor, and even slavery. 

LP: How does the company work with farmers to improve the health and productivity of palm and cocoa trees in Ghana?

Our Special Operations team is closely involved in all aspects of our supply chain. This includes team building and management, finances, product quality, and expansion. Organic agriculture is much more than just “not spraying” and fair trade is much more than just “paying a somewhat higher price” to farmers. It’s about supporting farmers actively in improving the fertility of their land, the diversity of their production—and helping to strengthen local communities where you’re close enough to have an impact. Serendipalm sources specifically from small family farms not large plantations. In doing so, it operates holistically within an ecosystem where the trees that produce palm and cocoa grow naturally in this region of the world and are cultivated using regenerative organic agroforestry practices with other beneficial plants. Crops produced this way not only preserve the land and its natural flora, but also provide livable wages and improved opportunities for education and medical care.

LP: Any new/upcoming flavors for 2023?

We have just launched Cool Peppermint Cream, a new flavor of our Magic All-One Chocolate, which is available now at drbronner.com and should be available in retailers nationwide in 2023. Peppermint is synonymous with both my grandfather and the company he founded. So, it was natural for us to add Cool Peppermint Cream to our Magic All-One Chocolate line. The taste of the smooth, sweet caramel-colored peppermint filling in each bar, made with coconut sugar instead of cane sugar, is pure nostalgia.

We offer this flavor as yet another example of delicious vegan chocolate, ethically sourced from regenerative organic and fair trade supply chains, alongside our other flavors: Salted Dark, Roasted Whole Hazelnuts, Crunchy Hazelnut Butter, Salted Whole Almonds, Salted Almond Butter, and Smooth Coconut Praline.