Many people can no longer imagine their daily lives without chocolate. But most consumers don’t realise that their low-priced sweet treats often have a bitter aftertaste for cocoa farmers. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. The Scandinavian company Goodio aims not just to increase appreciation of chocolate, but also to create a better (entrepreneurial) world with radical transparency. We interviewed Goodio about this mission and their new ChocOats.
What’s the current economic situation at Goodio?
Jussi Salonen (Chief Operations Officer): Goodio is doing business in 14 countries – Asia, Europe and North America. Our largest export markets are the United States and the other Nordic countries, followed by Japan. This past May, our export business exceeded our domestic sales, which is a trend that’s going to continue. This year we are expecting a revenue of approximately 3 million euros.
Your biggest business question was, “What if there was a food brand you could trust?” Why can people trust Goodio?
Jukka Peltola (Founder): Even though it might sound like a cliche, my driving force when founding the company was to make the world a better place. You can’t do this if money is your priority; for the first 4 years I didn’t get paid, not even once. As a small company, it’s challenging to get your message heard. With so much noise everywhere, how can consumers find us and then learn about why and what we do? I think radical transparency and accountability is the key, that and sharing the positive movement – chocolate and the company are just vehicles to make this happen.
Your business aims are sustainability, well-being, and transparency. How are these realized in your business practice?
Jukka Peltola (Founder): They are ideally realized in everything we do, since our company is founded and driven by our values. To give you some examples, all our ingredients are organically grown or wild. We use only fine shade-grown cacao. All our chocolates have a high cacao content (min 50%). We use coconut palm sugar instead of white or cane sugar. We hire people that are struggling to find a job (min. 10% of our staff). All our products are vegan, GMO and gluten-free. We are moving towards radical transparency, which means, for example, sharing our recipes, ingredient sources and prices. Instead of a marketing budget, we have an impact budget.
Your latest product is ChocOats. What’s so special about them?
Jukka Peltola (Founder): We wanted to create the best possible product to build a bridge towards healthier and better darker chocolate for conventional milk chocolate fans. In ChocOats, we use really high-quality sustainable, fair and transparent cacao from small farmers in Peru. 24% of each bar is gluten-free organic oats, so it also contains healthy fiber. It contains over 50% less sugar than conventional milk chocolate, and instead of white sugar it’s sweetened with low-glycemic index coconut palm sugar. There are only 4 or 5 ingredients in each bar, and all the flavors come from real berries or herbs, not from “natural” flavors or extracts.
What marketing campaigns are you planning for the launch?
Moona Lehikoinen (PR & Communications Manager): As Jukka mentioned, instead of a marketing budget we have an impact budget. This means that instead of pushing people to buy our products with aggressive marketing campaigns, we want to focus on doing good and making a positive impact on the world. Obviously, without communicating about what we are currently doing or trying to achieve in the future, we won’t go a long way. Therefore, we have a big focus on spreading our story (and chocolate), for example through social and traditional media as well as different events and collaborations.
First the UK, then the US. Are there plans for introduction into other countries, e.g. Germany?
Jussi Salonen (Chief Operations Officer): We have been following our strategy carefully by entering new markets. As opposed to trying to open up as many countries as possible, we’ve been focusing on growing our current markets, as there is and will be quite a lot of room for growth. However, we are actively keeping our eyes open for organic growth opportunities in other countries as well, especially Germany and some Asian countries.
What are the (taste) advantages of raw chocolates compared to “normal” chocolate?
Jukka Peltola (Founder): I don’t think it’s about rawness, but rather about trying to have a holistic view. The chocolate industry and the market in general is mostly driven by cheap, bulk cacao. It’s a bit like if most wine tasted the same; grapes and origin wouldn’t be mentioned, and there would be lots of cheap fillers added to maximize profit. The majority of people don’t know how amazing and diverse cacao is. That’s why we use only fine cacaos and and process them minimally. Cacao is a natural ingredient and I think it’s great that our chocolate tastes a bit different depending on origin and harvest/season. If people understood cacao a bit more, they would value it more and would consume it differently. Right now, it’s about quantity over quality, and it’s not only taste that suffers. There’s actually an ethical and environmental catastrophe happening in West Africa, where 70% of the world’s cacao comes from. Most farmers live below the poverty line, but the chocolate industry is worth over 100 billion. We’re talking about a big paradigm shift here. We believe that in the coming years, cacao will get the respect and love that it deserves, and it will not only change the market but also make the world a better place.
What are your plans for the next 5 years at Goodio?
Jussi Salonen (Chief Operations Officer): In the next 5 years, Goodio will continue to follow our mission to accelerate positive change with the world’s best chocolate. There are some very exciting innovations in our pipeline, perhaps even beyond chocolate. ChocOats in particular is going to be the number one alternative in the post milk chocolate era.