• Our rating: 90.0% (1 review)
  • Company:
  • Cacao solids: 70%
  • Guide Price: £1.32
  • Description by: Alex Rast
  • Production: Branded bar, produced by third party
  • Certification:
    • None
  • Ingredients:
    • Fairtrade cocoa mass
    • Fairtrade cane sugar
    • Fairtrade cocoa butter
    • Emulsifier: soya lecithin
Sainsbury’s – Taste The Difference Santo Domingo Organic Fairtrade 70%óChocolate Review Rating: 90.0% out of 100 based on 1 reviews.

Sainsbury’s – Taste The Difference Santo Domingo Organic Fairtrade 70%

Sainsbury’s join the trend of supermarkets entering the fray of “fine” chocolate using house-branded chocolates from various origins. This one will tick all the right boxes for the environmentally conscious, and furthermore the Dominican Republic produces some very fine chocolate, so there’s interest here, perhaps more so than others in the Sainsbury’s line. Mystery as to the producer (which is apparently German) is the one major X-factor; it’s unclear whether the chocolate will be good or bad. But with a price far below that of most fine chocolate, there is at least little financial risk, so it’s justifiable to try it at least once.

Reviews

Alex Rast: 22-May-2011

Posted: May 22, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 10%
Look/snap: 5%
Taste: 35%
Melt: 5%
Length: 15%
Opinion: 30%
Total/100: 100%
INFO
Best before:
Batch num:
Source:
Supplied by:

Sainsbury’s delivers a total shock to the world of fine chocolate in the form of a great chocolate at the price of ¬£1.32. Just how they’ve achieved this miracle is unclear, especially given that the chocolate is Fair Trade, but the fact remains that not only is this bar among the best organic chocolates, it’s among the best chocolates, period. Most of the time house-branded bars are marked by reasonable but not outstanding quality: enough usually to attract attention and gain a market footing, but not enough to really impress. Not here. It seems Sainsbury’s has gotten serious about good chocolate, and has made a genuine effort to produce something worthwhile. The end result is a new development: genuine fine chocolate for the masses.

Out of the box, this chocolate already looks different; not the sinister black of so many house-blend chocolates but a pleasing red-brown, and with a superb finish that bears few traces of defect. It’s clear that at least decent beans are going in here, but nonetheless it’s the aroma that really makes it clear. It’s a classic, spicy blend: with clove and pepper, something like Chinese 5-spice, predominating initially with a hint of balsamic, and then cherry. There’s much here that is reminiscent of Domori, that powerful pungency, those bright notes. Unquestionably this chocolate has promise. But will it deliver?

Yes. Unequivocally yes. The flavour is astonishingly complex, starting off with a cherry burst, then briefly grape. Next molasses mixed with nuts add a more mellow background, which revives into cinnamony spiciness with pleasant woody hints. Complex, yet balanced: they have managed to capture almost all the flavour dimensions chocolate has in a single bar, without having them clash. From a single-origin, this is remarkable. Sainsbury’s appears to have resurrected Domori’s long-gone, much mourned Chacao from the grave.

Texture, too, doesn’t miss a beat: super-smooth and creamy, just as it should be. Supermarket labels like “Taste the Difference” tend not to mean much, but here they do: you can taste the difference. The flavours leave little doubt, furthermore, that the basic source is the same as was that for Domori Chacao. Now, who is the mystery producer? A manufacturer with this level of mastery needn’t hide in the shadows: it’s time he came forward into the limelight to receive his fully deserved share of acclaim. Furthermore given the volume in which this bar is being made it defies the odds: quality beans aren’t usually to be found at this scale. This manufacturer is doing something very, very special to extract this level of flavour out of this volume of beans. But on Sainsbury’s part there is an equally commendable achievement: they’ve take fine chocolate and made it genuinely accessible to the masses, not in the sense of having unintimidating flavours but in the sense of providing a price point within the reach of the common man – and in this regard this chocolate is unquestionably the best value chocolate in the world.

5 Comments

  1. Martin Christy June 6, 2011

    I’m part way through a review of Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ Peru, which is also surprisingly very good. I’m 99% sure the bars are made by Icam, who’s production standards have gone up considerably since opening their new factory.

    There’s a big question to be answered here though: Is fine chocolate produced at this price sustainable? I suspect not.

    Here’s how the maths goes: Take off the VAT and retail mark up and let’s guess that Icam are getting ¬£0.45p per bar. Chocolate making is a slim margin business, so this is guess work, but let’s say that ¬£0.37 of that relates to actual costs.

    As we know, for a 70% bar, the added sugar about equals the wastage lost during processing from the original cacao, so 1 bar comes from about 100g of cacao, plus maybe another 15g for the additional cocoa butter. It seems unlikely that cost of raw materials is much more than 50% of FOB price.

    So we can guestimate that the cost of the cacao for this bar was £0.185p, which is $0.30 or $3,000 per tonne, which is just above the current market price.

    We need to consider shipping and exporters and collection center mark up though. At farm gate, this may well equate to $1 or less per kilo for the farmer. (Last anecdotal evidence of this: cooperatives in Dominican Republic were getting $0.80 / kilo about 5 years ago).

    Whether or not this is a survivable income depends on productivity, which in Dominican Replublic is generally good, especially on the more commercially managed farms.

    In the case of Dominican Republic, this is the fairly standard business model, and Icam have made a pretty good chocolate here using more or less the same cacao as others. (Eg compare to Tesco’s Dominican Republic 70% made wtih Conocado Fair Trade cooperative cacao, also made by Icam, also at ¬£1.32 per bar).

    This may be sustainable in the Domincan Republic, where the cacao genetics are generally good and where a reputation has been earned for organic and Fair Trade.

    In other countries the economics will be different. In Peru, for example, at this price farmers are left with a choice of whether to grow the indigenous ‘fine’ cacao, or a high productivity hybrid like CCN-51, which can double the yield, but is not considered fine, does not have a good taste profile and may be environmentally damaging as it tends to go hand in hand with more intense farming methods. At farm gate, there is NO price premium paid for the local ‘fine’ cacao.

    Other countries, like Ecuador, will be facing similar decisions, even if there the government has imposed a small price premium for Nacional over CCN-51.

    The choice for farmers can be between doubling short-term income and rising above the poverty line, or growing the ‘fine’ cacao that premium end consumers crave. If this means sending your children to school or not, which would you choose?

    My point is that I believe the world cannot sustain fine chocolate at ¬£1.32 (about $2.00) for a 100g bar. It’s just not possible. At this price, continuing to grow fine cacao will not be economical. Farmers will grow bulk cacao, other, intensive, crops like palm or bananas, or leave farming altogether. With this kind of model, we are in danger of losing fine cacao altogether, reducing it to a few super-expensive sources in Venezuela, Madagascar and the Caribbean.

    Enjoy these bars while you can, they may just not be possible in ten years time.

  2. Alex_Rast June 8, 2011

    A good point, and like you I’ve been thinking that this cannot last for long. Actually it’s an endemic problem in the modern economy: the availability of cheap, mass-produced articles made at the lowest possible cost without regards to quality or sometimes even fitness for purpose has led to unrealistic expectations on the part of the consumer as to how much things should really cost. What this means is, when any product comes out where a real attempt has been made to produce a quality item and price it realistically, most people balk at the prospect of paying what they view as being an extortionate amount for a product which in fact only represents the true cost. The effect is to eliminate the market for quality product, and much more worryingly in the long term, to eliminate the memory in people’s minds of what quality was like or what product standards were even achievable, so that they don’t even realise what they’re missing. I wonder, for example, how many people know how well-made and well-performing something as simple as baking tins could be? A concerted effort to educate can be effective on a limited scale – for example when I introduced a group of knowledgeable, intelligent people to a really first-rate chocolate a few weeks ago at a tasting the “before” and “after” effect of reaction to the price per bar was stark – indeed, afterwards, most of them, far from wondering about the price were asking where they could buy it – but such efforts tend only to be able to work with a small audience representing a trivial sector of the total market.

    In the short term, perhaps the only viable way out of such a downward spiral is to introduce things at a low price, initially to gain interest, then gradually ramp up the price as people start to recognise what the possibilities are. In that respect Sainsbury’s I think are doing something commendable, in that it seems to me that they’re making an effort to reach the “common” market through chocolates priced at levels that the customer is at least prepared to try – for that customer surely will NOT do so, at higher prices, without prior knowledge. It seems to me that they’re gambling perhaps heavily on being able to increase prices later – like you I can’t imagine these prices can stay the same forever – which is a lot better than the cynical tactic of presenting poor-quality chocolate in prettier boxes and pretending to the consumer that they’re getting a finer product. In the very longest run, of course, the size of market for quality chocolate is bound to be limited on the supply side rather than the demand side. However to increase the incentive to the farmer to grow better cacao the demand has to increase to the point where the market will actually support the increase output *at premium prices*. I think essentially the only way to get this to happen is to get chocolate that’s actually good into the hands of people who didn’t already know that it could be.

  3. Joseph Conroy June 25, 2011

    Where can I buy these; just spent 15 min looking

  4. Jay Olins February 25, 2013

    I’d like to purchase these too, for my collection.

  5. Matty Balaam October 19, 2013

    They have changed the packaging on these recently and the chocolate seems different too.

Leave a comment