This post is for people who are new to craft chocolate and aren’t sure how to interpret the words and labels slapped all over the wrappers of chocolate bars. Have you wandered down the aisle of Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic or other store feeling unsure of whether you can trust what the packaging is trying to tell you? Trust me, I’ve been there too! When I was brand new to trying craft chocolate, I had no idea what to look for in the ingredients list or to even look for the origin of the cocoa.
Now when I look at the chocolate selection of Whole Foods, I wonder if I can truly believe that the majority of the chocolate sold there is held at the same standard as craft chocolate and I’ve learned that sadly a lot of the chocolate bars being sold there have been co-packed. From my understanding, co-packed means that a brand approached a chocolate manufacturer and asked them to produce a certain type of bar for them. This co-packer can produce hundreds, maybe even thousands of bars for the brand (this makes me think of mass produced chocolate like Hershey’s). Then the brand just slaps their label onto it. An example is Endangered Species chocolate.
I remember going to Endangered Species’ website trying to find information on the origin of their cocoa and I could not find it anywhere. When you look at their ingredients list, it begins with “chocolate”, which consists of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and vanilla. The purest dark chocolate bar should simply contain cocoa and sugar (with the exception of any added fruits, nuts, salt, and other inclusions).
Thanks to Ana Brady from Food Packaging Labels, Ana shared with me a helpful visual guide for those who are lost when deciding which chocolate bars to purchase. The only thing I would add to this visual guide is to alway look for the origin of the cocoa. The origin could simply be the country that the cocoa beans came from, or even the specific cocoa plantation. This helps the consumer trace their food to the source and potentially to the farmer’s hands that helped cultivate the cocoa pods. To view the guide, go here, and I hope that next time you enter a store to try a new chocolate bar you’ll be less confused and feel empowered to understand the difference between “good” chocolate and great chocolate!
I did not receive pay or any compensation for sharing links or information from Food Packaging Labels. Though at the time of writing this post I am working in the chocolate industry, my work in the chocolate industry has no affect on my personal thoughts and experiences with the products shared on Time To Eat Chocolate. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links.