Remarkable Business Stories: The Divine Chocolate/Kuapa Kokoo Story

Divine Chocolate Limited, formerly the Day Chocolate Company, is a manufacturer of Fairtrade chocolate products in the United Kingdom and the United States. But the real stars are the members of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union. In 1997 (at their 4th Annual General Meeting) the Farmers Union resolved to set up a chocolate Company in the United Kingdom with ‘Papa Paa’ (best of the best) cocoa beans produced by the members themselves.

The Story: In order to combat the threat of the farmers losing out during the liberalisation of the cocoa market in 1993, a group of cocoa farmers including a visionary farmer representative on the Ghana Cocoa Board, Nana Frimpong Abrebrese, came together to form a co-operative that would collect and sell its own cocoa for the member farmers’ own benefit.

The cocoa farmers’ organisation was founded and named ‘Kuapa Kokoo’ which in the local language, Twi, means ‘Good Cocoa Farmers Company’. Kuapa prides itself on its democratic nature and all decisions affecting the farmers are taken by elected representatives. The process doesn’t cheat the farmers by using inaccurate weighing scales, as other buying agents often do, and Kuapa strives to ensure that all its activities are transparent, accountable and democratic.

Kuapa Kokoo decided that another way to increase profits from their cocoa, as well as their knowledge of the western chocolate market, was to produce their own branded chocolate bar for sale in western markets. In October 1998 Twin Trading and Kuapa Kokoo came together, along with The Body Shop, and supported by Christian Aid and Comic Relief, to found The Day Chocolate Company in the United Kingdom with Kuapa Kokoo owning a third of its shares.

Two farmers’ representatives came to London to celebrate at the most Divine launch party in town and in autumn 1998, Divine (the first ever Fairtrade chocolate bar aimed at the mass market) was launched onto the UK confectionery market. Since then, variations such as Divine white chocolate, flavoured milk chocolate, dark chocolate and drinking chocolate etc. have been added to the company’s list. Another brand, Dubble, was launched in 2000 in collaboration with Comic Relief.

In 2006, original Day Chocolate founder The Body Shop made the brilliant decision to donate its shares in the Company to Kuapa Kokoo – so now the farmers’ cooperative has an even bigger stake in Divine.  On 1st January 2007, Day Chocolate changed its name to Divine Chocolate Ltd to more closely align the company with their flagship brand, and the brand itself experienced a major redesign.  Then, on February 14th 2007 the launch of Divine Chocolate Inc. in the USA was announced… another big year in the life of Divine!

The Remarkable Bit: Divine Chocolate’s trading system is unique – the co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana owning shares in the company that make the chocolate bar makes it so, and members of Kuapa Kokoo are very proud to own shares in Divine Chocolate as it gives them a voice in the global trade of chocolate. The farmers’ ownership stake in the company (a first in the fair trade world) means that Kuapa Kokoo has a meaningful input into decisions about how Divine is produced and sold. This unique and innovative company structure was recognised when Divine was awarded Millennium Product status. Divine Chocolate UK was also voted  Best Social Enterprise in 2007 and Observer Best Ethical Business in 2008.

Where will you buy your next bar?


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