On Sunday November 17th members of Tufts New Economy and MIT New Economy visited in Taza Chocolate Factory near Union Square in Somerville. This presented a great opportunity to not only gorge ourselves on fantastic chocolate—we recommend the salted almond, ginger, salt and pepper and cinnamon—but to learn about Taza’s responsible and sustainable business model. This model has proven quite successful. Taza was founded in 2006 and has since expanded to market their chocolates in all 50 states.
Taza’s commitment to operating a responsible and sustainable business begins with the purchase of their cacao beans, which the company obtains through direct trade with growers in the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Belize. Direct trade means that Taza meets with their partner cooperatives face-to face, without an intermediary, so all proceeds of the sale go to the cooperatives themselves. Additionally, Taza actually pays a premium price over the market fair trade price to ensure the highest quality cacao supply and to help growers achieve a sustainable livelihood. Moreover, this practice has actually spread and encourage other importers of cacao to raise the price paid to growers. Now, most growers in areas that Taza obtains beans have experienced an overall improvement in the market environment.
This positive philosophy is also evident at the factory itself. Taza currently employs 58 individuals. The company pays living wages, provides generous benefits, and offers opportunities for advancement within the enterprise. Our tour guides’ incredible enthusiasm about the company illustrated the incredible working environment that Taza has cultivated.
In TNE, we often focus on market failings and the potential for non-market or non-traditional solutions can improve the equity, sustainability and overall vitality of communities. Taza, however, represents an example of what can be achieved while operating within the capitalist market structure but valuing environmental and economic responsibility above all.