Clay Gordon, Technical Editor of International Confectionery, explores the five ‘ps’: planet, people, prosperity, partners and passion.
In my first article as Technical Editor for International Confectionery (the June/July 2021 issue), the topic I covered was Communicating Sustainability. One focus of that article was recognising that sustainability means different things in different parts of the world, and that to communicate effectively it’s important to be aware of, and understand, those differences. I’ve explored related issues in articles on ethical supply chains in other issues of International Confectionery.
One of the guest commentators in that first article was Heather Terry, the CEO of GoodSAM Foods PBC (goodsamfoods.com) headquartered in the US. I’ve known Heather since before she started her first business in chocolate (Nibmor) in 2009. She expressed in her commentary that, “We only had [the] access to our supply chain that our chocolate suppliers wanted us [to have]. We had to take what we were given, wrap it up in a[s] neat bow [as we could], and put it out there.”
Continued Heather, “We may think in terms of recyclability or sustainability, but we don’t usually think about these issues in terms of human lives. I’ve spent enough time working in supply chains to realize that, in the end, it’s all about human lives, human capital.”
Since that interview over a year ago, I’ve kept in touch with Heather and learned that GoodSAM has grown at a rapid pace, offering an expanding range of confectionery and bakery products into retail outlets, including Thrive Market. I learned that, since its founding less than two years ago, GoodSAM has purchased over 200MT of cocoa beans from its suppliers in Colombia and has plans to double their bean purchases to 400MT in CY2023.
The questions that came to my mind as I thought about the consequences and challenges of this growth included, “What does it take to develop ethical and sustainable direct-trade supply chains that are scalable? How does a small start-up company like GoodSAM manage to develop these supply chains – not just in one country (Colombia) with two products (cocoa and coffee), but across multiple countries and multiple ingredients? (GoodSAM also works in Kenya to source macadamia nuts.) What does it take to develop supply chains that are not exploitive – ones based on regenerative agricultural principles and that respect farmers as people? And, finally, what does it take to do all those things and be profitable?”
These are not new questions in the cocoa supply chain, where low farm gate prices, predatory intermediaries, labour and gender inequity, poor land use management, and many other challenging issues are front of mind for chocolate makers and, increasingly, consumers…
To read more see our latest issue here.