Devine Chocolate: Owned By Fair Trade Cocoa Farmers

Posted by Frances Fryc on


Divine Chocolate Fair Trade Cocoa Farmer Owned


Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative in Ghana that supplies the cocoa for each bar of Divine. As owners, they get a share of the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace.

Thank you for supporting Divine Chocolate’s efforts to make the world a place where chocolate is cherished by everyone, including the family farmers who grow the cocoa.


The Divine Chocolate Story

In autumn 1998, Divine, the first ever Fairtrade chocolate bar aimed at the mass market was launched onto the UK confectionery market. In an exciting new business model, the co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana own shares in the company making the chocolate bar. Two farmers' representatives came to London to celebrate at the most Divine launch party in town. Here's how it all happened . . . . 

divine chocolate fair trade

“Those who impact positively on the lives of others shall forever live in the memory of the heart."


Getting It Together

In the early 1990's, the structural adjustment program involved the liberalization of the cocoa market in Ghana. A number of leading farmers, including a visionary farmer representative on the Ghana Cocoa Board, Nana Frimpong Abrebrese, came to realize that they had the opportunity to organize farmers, to take on the internal marketing function. This would mean that they could set up a company, to sell their own cocoa to the Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC), the state-owned company that would continue to be the single exporter of Ghana cocoa.

divine chocolate farmers Kuapa Kokoo

These farmers pooled resources to set up Kuapa Kokoo, a farmers' co-op, which would trade its own cocoa, and thus manage the selling process more efficiently than the government cocoa agents. Kuapa Kokoo - which means good cocoa growers - has a mission to empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women's participation in all of Kuapa's activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa. The farmers who set up Kuapa Kokoo were supported by Twin Trading, the fair trade company that puts the coffee into Cafédirect and SNV a Dutch NGO.
Kuapa Kokoo weighs, bags and transports the cocoa to market and carries out all the necessary legal paperwork for its members. Kuapa strives to ensure that all its activities are transparent, accountable and democratic. 


It doesn't cheat the farmers by using inaccurate weighing scales, as other buying agents often do, and because it operates so efficiently, it can pass on the savings to its members. After seeing the benefits Kuapa gains for its members, more and more farmers want to join and the association now has upwards of 65,000 members organized in approximately 1400 village societies.


divine chocolate

'PA PA PAA' - The Best Of The Best

Cocoa from Ghana is of a high quality and trades at a premium on the world market.   Kuapa Kokoo's motto is pa pa paa - which means the best of the best in the local Twi language. Kuapa's premium quality cocoa is now sold to chocolate companies around the world.

divine chocolate fairtrade

The cocoa farmers, who were already getting a Fairtrade price from some international customers, voted at their 1997 AGM to invest in a chocolate bar of their own. They decided that rather than aiming for the niche market where most Fairtrade products were placed, they would aim to produce a mainstream chocolate bar to compete with other major brands in the UK.

A Brand New Day

Together with Twin, Kuapa helped set up The Day Chocolate Company in 1998, with the enthusiastic support of The Body Shop, Christian Aid, and Comic Relief.  The company was named in memory of Richard Day, a key member of the team at Twin that had helped Kuapa Kokoo develop its organization.

The UK Department for International Development pulled out all the stops to guarantee Day's business loan, and NatWest offered sympathetic banking facilities.  


Kuapa Fair Trade Cocoa Beans

Simply Divine

Divine Fairtrade milk chocolate, made from Kuapa's best of the best fairly traded cocoa beans was launched in October 1998 and by Christmas 1998, had made it onto the supermarket shelves . . .

A First For Fair Trade

The farmers' ownership stake in The Day Chocolate 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. Two representatives from Kuapa Kokoo are Directors on the company's Board, and one out of four Board Meetings every year is held in Ghana. As shareholders, the farmers also receive a share of the profits from the sale of Divine. This innovative company structure was recognized when Divine was awarded Millennium Product status.

simply divine chocolate Kuapa

Beans Mean Business

In a ferociously competitive global chocolate market, being the new bar on the block can be a daunting prospect. But as so many people adore delicious chocolate, the potential for Divine's success is huge. There are hundreds of chocolate brands available in the US, and the biggest companies spend up to 10% of their profit margins - tens of millions of dollars - in their fight to retain their brands' positions in the Chocolate Top Ten.


Divine has been developed to appeal to the public's palate, and it tests favorably against all the market leaders. The US has one of the highest per capita levels of consumption of chocolate in the world and therefore, even capturing a small proportion of this market translates into real benefits for cocoa farmers.

Even More Divine

In 2006, original Day Chocolate founder The Body Shop made the decision to donate its shares in the Company to Kuapa Kokoo - so now the farmers' cooperative has an even bigger stake in Divine.  On January 1st, 2007, Day Chocolate changed its name to Divine Chocolate Ltd to more closely align the company with our 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!


Women's Empowerment

Ongoing sales of Divine fund investments in women’s training, mentoring and capacity building at Kuapa Kokoo. Divine's Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Truffle bar (3.5 oz) features a special graphic highlighting our dedication to women in cocoa farming.

Women contribute a significant amount of the labor on a cocoa farm, including much of the work related to fermentation and drying of beans – the key stages that ensure product quality.

Despite women’s important contribution, cocoa farming is largely regarded as men’s work, and women have historically had little access to the income from cocoa farming. Divine is working to change that.

Women cocoa farmers are common in Ghana. But they tend to have smaller, less productive farms. Low levels of literacy, due to historic lack of education for girls, makes women less able to participate in training and more susceptible to being cheated.

Kuapa Kokoo has prioritized equal participation and equal access for women since its founding. Women have been learning a range of income-generating skills and being encouraged to take positions of responsibility throughout the organization. 

Divine supports women's training programs. According to a study commissioned by Divine, Kuapa, and Twin on nearly two decades of work with women, here's why:

  • Equal training for women in cocoa farming practices helps women improve farm productivity and cocoa quality
  • Advancement of women as recorders (elected buying clerks) provides opportunities to earn additional income
  • Women who earned extra household income used that money to keep their children, Including girls, in school longer than families in villages where women’s training was not as available
  • Making women a priority leads women members of Kuapa to be loyal and encourages women to advocate for other women to join the cooperative. Kuapa is viewed as a positive resource for women. 

Kuapa’s Women’s Programs increase training for women in cocoa farming practices to help women improve farm productivity and cocoa quality. The training prioritizes the following:

  • Facilitating the advancement of women as recorders (elected buying clerks) to provide opportunities to earn additional income 
  • Ensuring that women’s groups are rolled out across all 58 cocoa farming districts
  • Increasing literacy and numeracy training for women to enable them to earn income through other enterprises such as selling vegetables, clothing or baked goods.

Check out Divine Chocolates's blog here!

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