Josef Zotter: "Chocolate can leave a very bitter aftertaste if you consider that cocoa growers work under severe conditions while others profit from the fruits of their labour. That’s why we support fair trade – not because we want to use a showcase product to raise our profile, but because we are convinced that it’s the right choice for our entire product range."
Global issues affect local production. Cocoa and cane sugar, two of the essential ingredients for making chocolate, cannot be grown in the fields outside the Zotter Chocolate Manufactory. But as far as Zotter is concerned, the same standards apply. He still wants close cooperation and local quality. That’s why Zotter sources fairly traded ingredients from certified organic production. Since 2001 Zotter has paid regular visits to the cocoa growing regions. For him, quality is paramount from bean to bar. He only buys high-quality cocoa from selected growing cooperatives in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Congo, India and Papua New-Guinea. Since 2004 Zotter has been a permanent licensing partner of FAIRTRADE Austria (Language: German).
Zotter cultivates a relationship of cooperative partnership with his cocoa growers. He knows that top quality does not come cheap and is willing to pay prices far above the going market rates. Zotter is also committed to working closely with the cocoa growers and to actively promoting social projects to improve the quality of the product, optimise work-flow processes and develop premium crops such as criollo cocoa in order to permanently improve living conditions for the cocoa growers. Producing premium quality offers small-scale farmers a chance to compete with mass production.
Zotter also contributes actively to development aid schemes by launching projects such as "Quality, not Poverty" in Nicaragua or "Cocoa, not Cocaine" in Columbia. Zotter says: "As a cocoa-producing business we bear responsibility for living and working conditions in the Third World. Fair trade means giving small-scale growers and plantation workers a chance to emancipate themselves from fluctuating global market prices and to build a secure and self-determined livelihood without child labour and environmental exploitation."
Josef Zotter regularly invites cocoa growers to the Manufactory in Bergl. Most of them have never seen a chocolate factory from the inside and have very little knowledge of what their cocoa is used for. Cocoa is a cash crop grown almost exclusively for export purposes. "By inviting cocoa growers to visit us, they get a much better idea of why quality is so important for us. Ultimately quality is a chance for them, too, to compete with larger operations," Zotter explains.
The independent FAIR TRADE certification guarantees that these products comply with international fair trade standards. By buying z o t t e r chocolates, you contribute to improving living and working conditions for the small-scale growers and plantation workers in the producing countries as well as to promoting environmental protection. www.fairtrade.at (Language: german)