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When it comes to chocolatiers, there are makers and there are melters. Many chocolatiers are known in the industry as “melters:” they melt bulk chocolate produced by other companies, then transform it into bars, bonbons and truffles. In the U.S. nine companies, including big guns like Guittard and Hershey, make 90 percent of the chocolate starting with raw cacao beans.
For F&W’s new Eco-Epicurean Awards (in our August issue), we honored a new kid on the block, Theo Chocolate, the only organic and fair-trade chocolate maker in the U.S. After the story came out, I got a disgruntled phone call from another U.S. company claiming to also make organic and fair-trade chocolate bars. When I called Theo to discuss this, marketing director Debra Music reminded me that the rival company was a melter, not a maker.
“I’m not saying that what they’re doing is not great,” Debra said. “It’s just that we have control over our product from beginning to end”—from bean to bonbon.