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Over pricing? Greedy even?
December 17, 2004
11:00 am
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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For my own sake I can add in that buying Lindt's, Green & Blacks is no option really as I simply don't fancy them. In general I find the more expensive ones so much better. Furthermore, I have more faith in high end brands when it comes to local investments than 'bigger' and cheaper ones. I have no evidence for this though. And as already mentioned here, there is probably much more effort (not to say tender love and care) behind high end chocolate which explains a great deal of the price to me. In addition, quantity was mentioned too. I am fine with all this. To me it is totally unnecessary with smaller lots where each bar is hand numbered since I care about the taste only. But I won't blame anyone for trying to hit a particular market by tailoring design, concept etc.

Buying bulk is indeed a good idea, and as most of the other people here know, in my country Amedei beats Valrhona in bulk format (Amedei Chuao is approx the same as e.g Valrhona Manjari and Guanaja, whilst Amedei 70% and Gianduja is 30% cheaper than Valrhona.) Yet, a big part of my own interest in chocolate is to try everything (ideally).

As for the money spent, I am obviously not the only one to prioritise chocolate over other 'normal' luxury items (clothes, cars, cigarettes - you name it). But of course, I could always spend more on bilateral aid. In retrospect, I spent more money on candy bar chocolate (made by chocolate beans harvested by slaves) before I descovered fine chocolate as I used to have so much more of it. So, in terms of my private economy and health it was a happy conversion.

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
December 17, 2004
11:12 am
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
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We have the main Valrhona couvertures in the shop, in wrapped kilos - not at bulk prices though! It is the same chocolate as the bars, in fact Guanaja, Caraibe, Manjari all started as couverture first, then became bars.

For many years I only bought fine chocolate like this, buying 12kg at a time and cutting it up for friends etc. You can't beat breaking a chunk of couverture with a knife and then eating it! That was kind of the start of this whole thing here.

If you think the expensive fine chocolate is made by profiteering money grabbing business men you would be mistaken (I'm leaving Valrhona aside for a moment ...). Some of them have good businesses, some of them struggle. Most of them work very hard out of passion for what they do, and if they had any sense would do something else. In other words, it's more than a business, they do it for passion. There are not many I've met that are not pathologically obsessed with chocolate.

It's the other end of the business where the problem is - the big companies. Often the staff in the big boys have frighteningly little knowledge of anything. I think it is the multi-nationals who are making a bad deal for us all - on health, quality, trade, origin and conditions – go kick them! Or take a high street chocolatier who may actually make their own chocolates, ask them the origin of their chocolate and they will tell you 'Norwich' (a small town in UK) or 'Belgium', without the faintest clue of where the beans come from or the conditions of the workers.

At least when you pay more for fine chocolate, you are supporting a part of the industry that maybe cares a little more and has a direct connection with source. Or more cynically, if a scandal about growing conditions comes out in a plantation used for an origin chocolate, there’s no place to hide for that small chocolate maker. They can't deny it, and this is actually becoming a point of competition between them - how well they treat the plantation workers. (e.g. Chuao, see other threads for this).

Anyway, this is fun! Sorry Alex ………

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
December 17, 2004
11:23 am
Gunnaknow
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Alex, point taken. This site isn't meant to have limits. It sells chocolate and all chocolate is valid to sell and buy. That wasn't really the discussion and it has been said several times that people must choose to buy what fits their own preferances. There is nothing wrong with me discussing my personal preferance either. I think we all have in this forum. This discussion was started initially to find out more about production costs but some things got misinterpreted, as things do and it pulled the conversation off it's initial course. Which was ok for a while.

I think this thread was already actually coming to it's conclusion before you brought it up. Atleast the discussion about production, relative value over price, spending preferances and fair trade ethics. I think that it was a very valid discussion to have and now that enough about these factors has been discussed, the thread will hopefully move on to discuss the issue I raised at the conclusion of my last post. After that the thread will either evolve into another discussion again or it will peter out as all threads eventually do. Relax and let this thread run it's natural course if you will.

Regards

James

-Zero is where truth begins. Didn't you know? You can't say it wasn't obvious.-

December 17, 2004
11:24 am
alex_h
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be my guest, martin, banter on :-)
your points are well made. as are lone's.
gunna, as far as i know, this site's primary purpose is not selling chocolate.
but, go ahead and discuss to thy heart's content. sorry for breaking the flow.

December 17, 2004
12:01 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
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Oh, it's Guanaja Noir because there's also a Guanaja Lait couverture.

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
December 17, 2004
12:08 pm
Gunnaknow
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Lonely, thanks for the tip. I will look into bulk prices on Amedei aswel.

Martin, fascinating stuff. Thanks for putting me straight on whether the blocks are the same as the bars.

"If you think the expensive fine chocolate is made by profiteering money grabbing business men you would be mistaken (I'm leaving Valrhona aside for a moment ...). Some of them have good businesses, some of them struggle. Most of them work very hard out of passion for what they do, and if they had any sense would do something else. In other words, it's more than a business, they do it for passion. There are not many I've met that are not pathologically obsessed with chocolate."

This sounds more promising Martin. Perhaps many top chocolatier's work for every penny they earn. I would like to think so. There is certainly no debating the fact that they deserve to earn a good living for having studied so hard for years and for the amount of passion they put into their work.

"At least when you pay more for fine chocolate, you are supporting a part of the industry that maybe cares a little more and has a direct connection with source. Or more cynically, if a scandal about growing conditions comes out in a plantation used for an origin chocolate, there’s no place to hide for that small chocolate maker. They can't deny it, and this is actually becoming a point of competition between them - how well they treat the plantation workers. (e.g. Chuao, see other threads for this)."

I am so glad to hear that. It must surely make us all feel better about buying from the very best. Perhaps the master chocolatiers are the cocoa industry's best friend. With their specialised education on every asset of chocolate production, from cocao tree to bar, they must surely be doing more for ethical cocoa production than bigger companys' business men and women, who are completely ignorant and also don't have the necessary job discriptions to allow for decissions that increase ethics and decrease profits. The more competition there is between chocolatiers to reinvest money for better working conditions and ecological care, the better. I am sure some of the most profiteering chocolatier's could do more but all in all it is sounding very positive.

Thanks for the education.

-Zero is where truth begins. Didn't you know? You can't say it wasn't obvious.-

January 14, 2005
10:08 pm
theobroma
MIlwaukee, USA
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hi folks
wow, big can of worms here... so many perspectives, and so many good points... So, not to feel left out, I'll throw my two-cents-worth in...
Initially, the first major question (roughly, why does some artisanal chocolate cost so much?) should have been obvious: economy of scale.
If this is really about doing the right thing, then of course you should make up your own mind about it. For me, 'doing the right thing' or, as was formerly mentioned, 'charity work', is quite separate from 'finances'. If I were wealthy, this would be different. Essentially, doing the right thing is a personal choice, and involves time and action, not just relative decisions with one's discretionary income. Remember, the 'considerate' consumer is still a consumer.

On another note, yes, many of the smaller chocolate companies have better relationships with the growers, and so provide for better conditions for the growers and their land. As you may know, deforestation (particularly of the species-rich rainforests), is a major problem. Chocolate is a rainforest product, and some efforts have been made by chocolate companies to help abate rainforest destruction. This should improve. Actually, as chocolate is such a popular product, and its source, theobroma cacao, prospers best in a rainforest climate, then it follows that the chocolate industry at large SHOULD focus on conservation. And pass some of this cost to the consumer. The same for slave labor and low-income labor, which is a major problem in the chocolate, coffee, and textile industries. (gunna, you should really be wary of which 'nice' clothes you are buying... slave labor is RAMPANT in the textile industry).

Lastly, if the allocation of your discretionary income, and the places to where it goes after you spend it, are really important, do your own research. Some products are appropriately priced, some are not. Common sense.
best wishes
kyle

Oh no! My Agustus!

Oh no! My Agustus!
February 7, 2005
10:48 am
alex_h
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i just got to thinking about the price of good chocolate when i came across a calculation. i don't want to mention any names but here are some numbers:
wholesale sells this chocolate for 40 euros. add to that VAT of around 4 euros and you get 44 euros. the same chocolate goes for 60 euros at one retailer and 78(!) at another. the difference in retail price is regional and the retailer selling for 60 has to pay much less rent for example than the latter. this chocolate, being as expensive as it is, doesn't sell in great amounts, which might justify the high price somehow. or are the prices simply absurd?
how is a retail price calculated? rent, pay for employees, advertizing, cleaning, local taxes... what else?
in a more extreme example (because it doesn't involve very different regions): i can buy product x in one store in munich for around 16 euros, another store sells it for 21! damn!
i am not trying to ruin retail. just interested in where the money goes.

February 7, 2005
11:19 am
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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Legodude mentioned to me that Marcolini's bars cost £5 in London and €4 (or something) in Antwerpen. Seems they double in quality when the cross the cannel?[}:)]

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
February 7, 2005
11:31 am
Masur
Stockholm, Sweden
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Marcolinis Porcelana bar costs £8 in London.

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
February 7, 2005
11:54 am
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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quote:


Originally posted by masur

Marcolinis Porcelana bar costs £8 in London.

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)


Yes, I know, I compared the prices of the "ordinary" bars.

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
February 7, 2005
12:04 pm
alex_h
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polar, you shouldn't forget that the fresh sea air and its high content of salt and iodine will make just about anything worth twice it's initial value ;-)

February 7, 2005
12:50 pm
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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quote:


Originally posted by alex_h

polar, you shouldn't forget that the fresh sea air and its high content of salt and iodine will make just about anything worth twice it's initial value ;-)


Yes, and then one should get a rebate for the pollution in central London...[8D]

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
February 7, 2005
12:54 pm
alex_h
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maybe we should all just take a trip to venezuela and try to get some chocolate straight from the trees :-D

February 7, 2005
1:26 pm
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
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quote:


Originally posted by alex_h

maybe we should all just take a trip to venezuela and try to get some chocolate straight from the trees :-D


If you bring millstones for grinding the cocoa mass, I can bring a concrete blender for conching [:)]

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...
February 7, 2005
2:10 pm
alex_h
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right on! ;-)
i'd be interested in seeing venezuela sometime.

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