- The confectionery shelf may not be the first place you might look for organic products, but they are there all the same and the variety of products which are claiming organic credentials appears to be increasing
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or some retailers, stocking organic products will be a matter of personal ethics. Organic foods tend to be produced with ingredients which have been grown without the aid of sometimes harmful pesticides and in such a way that the product is harvested in a sustainable way and eco-systems are preserved. Given that organic sweets often differ little in taste from their non-organic counterparts, it can make sense to stock a selection of these and to flag up the fact that they are organic either with signage or by awarding organic items their own section in your display.
Chinzalée Sonami, grocery buyer for Planet Organic, explains why independent retailers should stock a selection of organic confectionery: “Part of the exciting and challenging role of independent retailers, especially organic ones, is to offer their customers choice that is not easily available otherwise. Organic sweets, treats and chocolate can be hard for consumers to find, which is why we’ve committed to offering these categories. Customers committed to eating clean, organic products and who want to indulge their sweet tooth shouldn’t have to throw all of their values away when it comes time to choosing a sweet treat. Providing an organic option with clean ingredients allows for them to have their cake and eat it too.”
The appeal of organic sweets, Chinzalée says, “really lies in the enjoyment of a sweet without the worry you are consuming E numbers, artificial dyes and other ‘nasties’. An organic sweet is exactly what it sounds like – a chocolate, candy or candy bar made of non-GMO, organic ingredients.”
But can retailers assure customers that eating an organic sweet is better for their health? “This is a difficult one,” Chinzalée says. “Is candy made with real fruit juice instead of artificial colouring healthier for you? They both probably have the same amount of sugar and should be consumed in moderation, but should customers have the choice to avoid putting artificial ingredients in our bodies without fully knowing their impact on our health? I think so.”
For all and any of these reasons, “the demand for organic chocolate is through the roof!” Chinzalée says. “We have seen a steady growth in this category, which is impressive considering the vast array of conventional chocolates available to the consumer. We are lucky to be working with so many wonderful suppliers who offer our customers innovative and delicious products not widely available. We have also made a strong commitment to sourcing organic raw chocolates which our customers have become very loyal to.”
There is a surprisingly wide choice available to those wanting to take the organic option. “The organic chocolate scene is very interesting and feels like its own world, much like the craft beer and coffee scenes, “Chinzalée says. “There are great brands like Blanxart, Doisy and Dam who are shaking up the category with beautiful single origin chocolates or interesting flavour profiles. Raw chocolate suppliers keep popping up left and right with beautiful bars and we’ve just launched our own raw and organic filled pralines as well. For those looking for traditional gummies made from organic ingredients, Biona have a great, broad range to choose from.”
Does this go some way to countering the negative image of sweets? “Absolutely. For example, Doisy & Dam have been adding superfoods to their chocolates, turning the ‘is this healthy?’ question on its head, but most importantly, those who are committed to using organic cacao and sugar, for example, are actively supporting organic farming industry, one that we hope will continue to grow. It’s also worth noting that dark chocolate and cacao really can be consumed as a health food (think of all of those heart healthy polyphenols or the healthy fats in cacao butter)! The nutritional profile of raw chocolate is outstanding and it’s hard to find something negative to say about it at all.”
Emma Jackman is founder and managing director of Conscious Chocolate, whose organic credentials are certified by Organic Farmers and Growers. It makes sense to stock organic products, she says, because “the consumer understands the benefits of organic and organic sales are increasing all the time. Lots of health food shops will only stock organic and most shops want to at least tap in to this side of the market; without it they are missing a huge chunk. Most consumers do expect to have the choice of the more ethical brands.” Producing organically isn’t the easiest route for a producer to take. “In terms of paperwork and logistics, we have so many more processes now but all our lines are organic so this simplifies things,” Emma says.
Some retailers may still be mystified about why a customer would be keen to search out organic confectionery. For Emma, the increasing demand for organic chocolate is all about a transparent food chain and purity of production. “If you are eating organic, you know that the ingredients are individually certified and that there is a clear chain of processes that guarantee the ingredients are quality checked and can be traced. The main point is that they have been produced without chemicals – who wants to eat insecticide with their chocolate?”