Doisy & Dam: The ethical chocolate makers

The creation of the first chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry in 1847. Since then our taste for chocolate has soared, with the global chocolate market now sitting at around £80bn. TM spoke to one UK chocolate company about their ethically produced bars.

Crunchy, wafer, caramel, dark, white, thinking about the different combinations and flavours of chocolate that are available in the nearest shop might give you a sugar rush. Chocolate is both something many can relate to and a valuable global commodity.

Richard Wilkinson founded artisan chocolate company Doisy & Dam four-and-a-half years ago with his friend, Edward Smith. The pair wanted to deliver chocolate that was delicious, had a positive impact on the environment and didn’t contain the unnecessary ingredients that might be present in your typical square.

Chocolate is a valuable global commodity - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Chocolate is a valuable global commodity – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

“Our goal has always been to create a confectionery business that takes the junk out of junk food,” Wilkinson told The Manufacturer. 

“We don’t put any ingredients in our products that shouldn’t be there; vegetable fat, preservatives or extra sugar that so many chocolate bars of today have. It is not easy because there are reasons why they are there, it’s cheaper and stabilises the product.”

Instead the business, who manufacture its chocolate bars in West London, uses other ingredients to enhance products and produce innovative flavour combinations. These include coconut & lucuma, goji & orange, and maca, vanilla & cacao nibs.

Wilkinson explains they are continuously improving their products, with many more launching in the coming months. Doisy & Dam expect to sell around two million bars this year, with the business’ growth rate currently doubling year-on-year.

Replacing coca with cocoa

Wilkinson explains that the business has full traceability of the source of its cocoa beans, buying directly from Colombia. “We are pretty unique for a business our scale. We buy directly from plantations we have visited ourselves.”

The cocoa bean is found inside the cocoa pod.
The cocoa bean is found inside the cocoa pod – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

“We have a really positive direct relationship with producers, suppliers and growers. Our cocoa bean supplier is actively involved in making social change to areas in Colombia producing the crop.”

He explains that Doisy & Dam buy its cocoa beans through Casa Luker, a company who has been in the chocolate business for over 100 years. “The team has an incredible knowledge of Colombia and the crop, and are consistently investing in quite radical new ways of producing cocoa.”

In some regions of Colombia, cocoa has even started to replace coca farming, the plant whose leaf is the base ingredient of cocaine. Cocaine production has been and still is a well-documented challenge for the country. In 2017, around 171,000 hectares of the country’s land was used to grow coca, up 25,000 hectares (17%) on the previous year.

Wilkinson says: “Casa Luker train people who used to be involved in growing coca and help them to develop a more long-term sustainable crop. They teach them how to grow cocoa in the most effective and profitable way without using any pesticides or GM.”

Driving positive change

Doisy & Dam was the 128th UK business to become a certified Benefit Corporation or B Corp. The purpose of the 2,655 B Corp companies across the world, is to accelerate a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and self-sufficient economy.

B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift - image courtesy of Doisy & Dam.
B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift – image courtesy of Doisy & Dam.

If certified as a B Corp, a business is legally required to consider the impact of its decisions on its workers, customers, suppliers, communities, and the environment.

He says: “The best thing about having B Corp certification is that it is a set of guidelines that means you are driving positive change for the world.

“What we want to do is make something enjoyable without leaving people with that sense of guilt that what they are consuming is unhealthy. In order to do this, our customers need to know that the chocolate has a clean label with no unnecessary ingredients.

“Secondly, they need to know that it is not doing any harm to the world, the cocoa needs to be produced ethically and not be exploitative.”

Doisy & Dam plan to invest in Colombia in the coming years to help improve the communities who grow its cocoa beans. This will enable the business to sustain its production long-term and build even stronger relationships with its supply chain. This is a company whose approach to business and chocolate creation embraces the change that many others must.