With its Maya Gold chocolate bar in 1994, the then independent premium chocolate manufacturer was the first company to launch a Fairtrade-certified product in the UK. And thanks to its ethical and luxury credentials, Green & Black's enjoyed a meteoric rise leading to its £20m sale to Cadbury in 2005.
But while Cadbury went on to convert its best-selling Dairy Milk bars to 100% Fairtrade certified last summer, the niche brand was hampered by a shortage of organic Fairtrade ingredients. "We've always taken our ethical responsibilities very seriously," said Green & Black's MD Dominic Lowe, "but it's been so tricky because of the nature of the product. What pushed us is having more of a presence around the world, where people don't know the Green & Black's story. Fairtrade has more resonance for them."
All the bars and drinks will be Fairtrade by the end of next year. And Green & Black's will pay an extra £300,000 a year to its cocoa suppliers in the Dominican Republic, aiding a troubled industry where young people are dropping out.
"The young generation don't want to go into cocoa farming because yields are falling. We want to work to improve yield and make it more profitable," he said.
No suppliers changed as a result of the switch.
Prospective new owner Kraft was "absolutely delighted" and had been very supportive, added Lowe.