Some of us come to the food industry simply because of a learned or inherited love for food. For others, coming to the food industry is symbolic of a much larger mission. In the case of Tim McCollum, Founder and CEO of the New York-based chocolate company Beyond Good, the foray into specialty foods was sparked by his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. It was his passion for bringing economic equity to the African cocoa market that continues to drive the company’s innovative practices, including a product launch that highlights the economy in Uganda.
“Our Founder was teaching English for two years in Madagascar and he found an opportunity to bring economic impact to the country through learning about the chocolate and cocoa industries,” explained Ashton Pina, Director of Communications. “The farmers were not making livable wages—they were still living in extreme poverty.”
Beyond Good was founded in 2008, aiming to maintain a fully transparent, equitable product by making its chocolate at the source. Last year, the company opened up a factory in Madagascar to become the only U.S. chocolate company to produce at the source in Africa.
“We have a fully transparent, equitable farm-to-factory supply chain. We act as intermediaries as the supply chain starts with the cocoa farmer, but typically there are about five or six people in the process between the farmer and the factory. Because of that process, there's no way to really monitor transparency,” Ashton told me. “In our program, we work with a hundred farmers. We give them training and access to equipment, helping them to create an economic impact through cocoa.”
At the Specialty Food Association’s recent Winter Fancy Food Show, I had the chance to connect with Ashton and take a sneak peek at the company’s newest product launch. This includes three new chocolate bars with cocoa sourced from Uganda. While those new products have not officially hit the market yet, I was curious to find out how Beyond Good hopes to continue on this upward trajectory of expansion.
“This year, we are aiming for about 2 million chocolate bars produced in Madagascar, in addition to launching our new Uganda products,” said Ashton. “We saw an opportunity to model what we've done in Madagascar and do that in other East African countries. We're currently looking at Uganda for a new factory, but we want to create a full farm-to-factory supply chain. In Uganda, we are working with a co-manufacturer to produce those new products while we develop what that supply chain will look like.”
It’s this dedication to an equitable supply chain that will ensure the longevity and continuous evolution of both the specialty food industry and the world at large. For more details on Beyond Good’s new products, stick around Deli Market News as we continue to report.