Food & Drink,  Gifts

Ethical and Eco-friendly Easter Chocolate

It’s hard to believe that Easter’s just around the corner once again. This time last year we were in the early grips of the pandemic. Something that has changed all our lives.

Last Easter I posted about the dark side of chocolate and the cocoa supply chain. It’s easy not to give this much (if any) thought. Especially as cheap mainstream chocolate is just everywhere in the UK.

The reality is that most “big brand” chocolate has a major part to play in causing environmental and social monstrosities. Deforestation, wildlife destruction and slave labour. These things and more are all happening right now.

So, today I’d like to tell you about a great ethical chocolate business that’s also achieving masses in the zone of sustainability: Montezuma’s.

Ethical Easter birds

Before I share more about Montezuma’s background and eco-credentials, let me flag some of their best products for Easter and beyond. Starting with their fabulously fun Easter birds range.

First up are the chocolate chicks. You can choose from three flavours:

Clucky: milk chocolate
Plucky: dark chocolate (dairy-free)
Lucky: milk chocolate alternative (dairy-free)

Now, just a warning if you’re looking to buy the chicks online: at 100g, they are not that big. Each chick is 9cm x 7cm at its widest point. Around half the size of a standard Easter egg. The measurements of the box are 16cm x 7.5cm x 8.5cm.

But unlike mainstream Easter eggs, the chick chocolate is thick and rich so it’s hard to eat too much at once. Even if you’re a chocolate fiend. Each chick comes with a small bag of giant buttons too.

If you’re after something more substantial, the Montezuma’s chocolate hens are twice the size (200g). Like the chicks, each one comes with a small bag of giant buttons. There are two options:

Orloff: milk chocolate
Frizzle: dark chocolate

If you really want to go crazy, there’s the huge (600g) egg with two chicks called “Just Hatched”. I’m sure this would last well beyond Easter, even if you have little ones.

As well as being rich and delicious, these birds are super cute. They’re ideal if you’re looking for something more exciting than a standard oval Easter egg.

Eco-chocolate buttons, truffles and bars

Montezuma’s also have a standalone giant buttons range that’s available all year.

You can get them in bags (180g) of either milk (37% cocoa), dark (74% cocoa – dairy-free), 100% cocoa (also dairy-free) or white chocolate.

The milk ones are probably best for kids as they aren’t as rich. But this also means it’s far too easy to eat an entire bag in one day so be warned!

You can also get the buttons in massive (900g) glass jars. A great Easter gift idea.

For something a bit fancier, Montezuma’s truffles are perfect. You can get them in bags or boxes in lots of flavours. See here.

The chocolate bars are a good call too. As well as the standard milk, dark and white options, there are plenty of unusual combos like:

Happincino (milk chocolate with coffee and cocoa nibs)
Orangutang (white chocolate with orange and butterscotch)
Hot Pickle (milk chocolate with chilli and lime)
Sea Dog (dark chocolate with chilli and lime)
Cheeky (dark chocolate with lemon and coconut)

Many of these are dairy-free/vegan-friendly. There’s also a good range of plant-based chocolates including truffles, buttons and half-moonies. For more info, see here. 

A bit about the brand 

So, who are Montezuma’s and how do they source and produce their chocolate?

The business was set up by Helen and Simon Pattinson: two lawyers who quit their jobs in 1999 to travel round South America. On their trip, they found inspiration in the unusual artisan chocolate that was being locally produced and sold. Chocolate with chilli and other spices. Back in the early noughties this was pretty much unheard of in the UK. 

So Helen and Simon decided that their next career move when they got back home would be chocolate-based. And in 2000, Montezuma’s was born.

The business has grown significantly over the last 20+ years. There are now six independent shops in the UK. The brand is also stocked in lots of other shops, supermarkets and department stores. In 2018, a majority share in the business was bought by a private equity firm called Inverleith.

Montezuma’s are in the process of seeking B Corp certification. For more details about B Corps, see my earlier post.

Purpose and Sourcing

Despite no longer being completely family-owned, Montezuma’s have stayed true to their core purpose: To make extraordinary chocolate from the highest quality ingredients while exceeding their quality expectations and ethical guidelines. They call this Trading Fairly.

Montezuma’s cocoa is sourced from organic cooperative farms in the Dominican Republic and Peru. They also source certified non-organic cocoa from Africa and South America. All their cocoa is sustainable and meets stringent ethical criteria and certifications including Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Soil Association and Cocoa Horizons.

Montezuma’s care about farmer’s livelihoods and pay fair prices to support growers and their local communities for the long term.

They do not source from the open market and therefore pay more for their cocoa to be sure they know its provenance. And all Montezuma’s products are palm-oil free.

For more details about their values and practices, see here.

Energy and Waste

Energy-wise, Montezuma’s don’t use gas anywhere in their business. All electricity for stores and almost 25% of their factory’s energy is from renewable sources.

Deliveries are done every 2 weeks and at night to reduce congestion and improve fuel efficiency.

Impressively, Montezuma’s have a “zero to landfill” status. Their factory waste is collected, treated and converted to pig feed. And all store rubbish is returned to the factory where it’s hand sorted for re-use or recycling.

Sustainable packaging

Unlike so many other chocolate brands, Montezuma’s packaging has fantastic green credentials. They are the only chocolate company with fully sustainable packaging across their entire range and business.

All product packaging is either recyclable, biodegradable or compostable. Including all glue, inks and stickers used on the products. As well as distribution packaging (things like tape and pallet wrap). The products are also labelled in a way which makes disposal options clear.

All packaging comes from the UK or Europe which is helping Montezuma’s to achieve their goal to become carbon neutral by 2025.

To learn more about Montezuma’s packaging journey, check out this video.

Charity and community

Montezuma’s are also doing lots for society. They’ve worked with and supported Children on the Edge for over a decade. Instead of charging customers for paper bags provided in stores, they ask for a donation to the charity. So far this has raised over £100,000.

More recently and as paper bag use has declined, Montezuma’s have partnered with Pennies, a micro-donation charity, to facilitate donations through the store checkout process.

So, what do you think? Have you tried any of Montezuma’s chocolate? What’s your favourite from their range? If not, why not check it out this Easter. Have a good one!

Montezuma’s chocolate available from their website or from their six UK stores (see here for locations).  Also stocked in Waitrose, Ocado, Holland & Barrett, John Lewis and other good retailers (online and instore).

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