Fair Trade Chocolate Studio

Categories: Course Workshop

Groupshot led a design workshop at the Nuvu Studio on Fair Trade Chocolate in Partnership with Nuvu and the Omanhene Chocolate Company. We introduced a complex social design challenge working to overcome patterns of traditional marketing and the usual narratives of fair trade to coach students to find new ways to link quality producers of global foods with local consumers.

Here’s the challenge from the studio: Chocolate is the most widely consumed treat in the world and one of the world’s most common flavors. Chocolate begins in the Cocoa Belt, the narrow band of the globe around the equator that produces the vast majority of the raw beans. But when you think of the finest chocolate in the world, what countries do you think of? Switzerland, Belgium, France–not usually the countries from where chocolate originates. While Fair Trade is working to improve the livelihoods of these farmers, there is more value in the chocolate bar than the beans themselves. How can Fair Trade evolve to tell this more complex story and shift focus from helping desperate farmers to supporting growing countries?

One company, Omanhene, has shifted the value chain and started a chocolate factory producing chocolate from growing the beans to producing the chocolate bar in Ghana, West Africa, one of the world’s largest Cocoa bean producing nations. This powerful concept is not a simple story to tell when more and more chocolate is labeled Fair Trade and the image of Africa is not one of quality production, but instead of disease and poverty. In the NuVu studio, students will be working with Omanhene and Groupshot to tell this story of value chains and high quality African Craftsmanship through chocolate itself. Students will be asked to think beyond marketing and labeling to try and embed storytelling and relationships into Omanhene chocolate and their company. Students will work, not to sell more chocolate, but instead to create more educated chocolate consumers who understand where their chocolate comes from and what it means to the place that produced it.

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