We care very much about 3 core principles every day at Chococo
We are also proud of being ethical chocolate makers as, just as we care about the taste of our finished chocolates, we also care about the bigger picture - about the provenance of our ingredients, whether local or global, and about the people who produce them. We are proud to work with a variety of fine origin chocolates which are known as Raisetrade chocolate as they are produced in their country of origin from tree to chocolate thereby adding more value to the local economy than exporting dried beans.
Locally, we employ a wonderful team of local people both at our HQ in Wareham and at each of our Chocolate Houses. It was important for us back in 2010, when we had outgrown our Swanage kitchen & packing space, that we found a larger unit that was close enough to keep all our existing staff & local suppliers and we were very proud that we managed to do that with our unit in Wareham.
We are very proud to be a Purbeck food business, working with other local & regional food producers and being part of the Dorset Food & Drink scene. Working with both local food & drink producers and local companies for our design, printing & lots of other elements of our business, is something we have done since we set up Chococo back in 2002 - it is part of our DNA and will continue to do so into the future. In fact, our passion for working with local producers was recognised by the Dorset business community when we won the first 'Investing in Dorset' award at the annual Dorset Business Awards in 2016. Most recently, we won The 'Dorset Food Hero' award at the 2019 Dorset Food & Drink Awards, in recognition of our work building a proudly Dorset-based business using many local ingredients!
Making truly fresh products with real ingredients & no weird & wonderful additives or preservatives has been core to our ethos since day 1 and always will be. We believe in making chocolates which will delight and as a national food journalist once said "their purity makes the flavour sing".
Working with local food & drink producers has been one of the joys since we launched as they are as passionate about their cows, bees, cheeses, vodka stills, coffee roasters and hedgerows as we are about our chocolates, so that together we can produce truly unique chocolates that are a true reflection of what's best about Dorset and the South West!
Our love of working with local suppliers for our chocolates has also extended into each of our Chocolate Houses where we work with local coffee roasters, tea merchants, dairy suppliers & bakers for elements of our cafe experiences.
We also passionately believe that you can be a chocoholic without being a sugarholic and so we have always worked with high cocoa chocolate (our house milk chocolates have always contained more than 40% cocoa since 2002 and our current bespoke house milk chocolate contains 45%) & are always interested in offering our customers new low sugar chocolates in both milk & dark chocolate to expand their taste experiences.
Our passion for keeping it real and making truly fresh chocolates that we are truly proud of has been reflected in the number of both national & international fine food & chocolate awards that we have won to date - we are at 98 so far (we probably should stop counting soon, but we hope that it shows that you don't have to take our word for it, our chocolates are recognised as being amongst the best by independent experts!).
Ever since 2002, we have cared about the environment too. Starting the business a few years after sailing around the world & then becoming a mum, I (Claire) feel that we have a duty to look after our planet as much as we can & leave as light a footprint as possible. As both of us are sailors, we are very aware of what is happening to our oceans as they become increasingly polluted by plastic. I was very upset to hear that microplastics were found deep in the Southern Ocean in the last Volvo Ocean race, a part of the world that was pristine when I was so privileged to sail there nearly 25 years ago.
Since launch, our selection boxes have always had cardboard grids inside to hold each chocolate, have never had plastic vac forms & they never will have! We have always only ever offered paper carrier bags & now 100% of our packaging is either compostable (we use woodpulp bags & cornstarch cellophane), recycled (either 100% recycled or rigid plastic packaging that is up to 80% recycled content & is 100% recyclable) or recyclable (all our cardboard).
We like the idea of using recycled plastics again & again, that feels more circular to us than using virgin plastic material. The boxes for our orangutans, ducks & Christmas trees are made of this 80% recycled material. We also offer paper straws in our cafes, fully compostable takeaway cups, wooden spoons for gelato & discounts for any customers who request a takeaway drink with a reusable cup.
On a bigger scale, in keeping with our concern for the planet, we are working with the Sumatra Orangutan Society to help raise funds to reforest areas of the Sumatran rainforest destroyed by illegal palm oil plantations. Reforestation helps both restore areas of habitat for the wildlife, including the orangutans (of which there are only 14,600 left in Sumatra) and local farmers, as part of the reforestation plans include planting trees that will generate an income for them, including cocoa!
For every Tuan (milk chocolate) or Tuantoo (dairy-free dark chocolate) orangutan sold, we give £3.50 to SOS & since starting the project in December 2018, we have funded the planting of over 2,500 seedlings and once mature (takes c5 years), they will be producing cocoa. Not only is this a new income stream for the farmers, but they are a treat for orangutans as they love eating fresh cocoa bean flesh - they break open the pods & suck the sweet white flesh that surrounds each cocoa bean inside!
In 2020, we also started supporting the SeaLife Trust, a marine conservation charity based in Poole, with the sale of our themed Ocean Easter eggs. These eggs raised over £500 for the SeaLife Trust to help fund beach cleans both in the UK and globally.
Where can you buy our Chocolates?
You can buy our fresh chocolates direct from us at our original Chocolate House in Swanage, our 2nd on the High Street in Winchester, our 3rd on Gandy St in Exeter, our 4th on Carfax in Horsham or via our nationwide mail order service.
Until Covid struck, you could also find a selection of our seasonal ranges in premium retailers, including Liberty, Harvey Nichols & Wholefoods Market plus independent food shops around the UK. Now the best place to find our chocolates if you cannot visit our Chocolate Houses is here on our website. We also offer a Corporate gifts service and, as and when life returns to some form of normal, we will we run our various a Chocolate Experiences, including parties & tastings, in each of our Chocolate Houses again.