Interview With Endangered Species Chocolate

By Jodi Truglio — April 12, 2016

imageI can’t help but remember the days I use to look forward to indulging in a bar of Endangered Species Chocolate, for years I called it my guilty pleasure and prefer it over other brands on the market because the company clearly marks on its packaging the chocolate is vegan and fair trade. I use to look forward to the seasons changing and the company coming out with new tasty flavors of chocolate to try.

Fast Forward to 2016 and my doctor informs me that an allergy test revealed that I am allergic to chocolate and that I can no longer enjoy it:( I guess I’ll always have my memories.

One of the many things you can appreciate about Endangered Species Chocolate is their focus on Wildlife Conservation and raising awareness about fair trade.

“We want as many people as possible to indulge in a cause with us!”
~Endangered Species Chocolate

Global Looking Glass recently had the opportunity to speak with a representative with Endangered Species Chocolate about their company.

A lot of people recognize the brand Endangered Species Chocolate(ESC) as a company that creates hi-quality chocolate for an affordable price. Can you tell me a few things people may not realize about your company?

  • Although the company started out in Talent, Oregon 1993, it moved to Indianapolis, Indiana 10 years ago. Many people are surprised to hear the company is located in the Midwest.
    For 8 years in a row, Endangered Species Chocolate has been voted FAVORITE VEGAN CHOCOLATE by VegNews magazine readers.
  • We work with species experts like Chimp Haven, Rainforest Trust, and Panthera to compile stats about the animals featured on the face of our chocolate bars. Infographics inside each wrapper detail the species region, population, threats, and how to help.

Every three years your company selects beneficiaries to imagepartner with for their GiveBack program, how are those organizations selected?

Our 10% GiveBack program is the heart of who we are as a company so all employees participate in reviewing applications and casting votes for our 10% GiveBack Partners. Partners are chosen based on their aggressive and clear mission to support species preservation and habitat conservation.

What are some of the major environmental concerns and ethical issues over sourcing chocolate?

The cacao tree is a shade-loving plant. But many growers clear the forests to streamline cultivation in open plantations under man-made canopies, leading to a host of environmental problems. We source chocolate that is shade-grown in the forest canopy. This method enhances the soil, protects it from erosion, and provides a refuge for an array of birds, insects, small mammals, and reptiles.

How does ESC go about selecting their suppliers?

All potential suppliers go through a rigorous screening process before ingredients are brought into our facility. This includes but is not limited to a third party audit, HACAP screening, traceability and certification program requirements, etc.

How has ESC help raise awareness to counter-poaching?

Our 2013-2015 10% GiveBack assisted African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) in strengthening existing counter-poaching forces – providing extra training and equipment to rangers and community scouts. Funds also supported AWF and WildAid in producing 10 short “Say No to Ivory” videos featuring celebrities like Yao Ming, Prince William, and David Beckham.

Looking forward, a portion of our 2016-2018 10% GiveBack is earmarked to support the Elephant Crisis Fund, a joint project of Save the Elephants and Wildlife Conservation Network. This fund deploys funds to the field (often within days of an emergency request) to stop the killing of elephants, bolster anti-trafficking measures, and crush the demand for ivory.

What are some of ESC’s current campaigns and what has been your most memorable campaign?

For Valentine’s Day this year, we will run a “Love birds” campaign to help launch our new Eagle bar (Dark Chocolate with Caramel & Sea Salt) and benefit several bird conservation organizations at the same time. Winners of our “Love birds” giveaways on Facebook and Twitter will receive a bundle of chocolate bars and a donation made in their name to The Peregrine Fund, World Owl Trust, and Project Puffin.

Our most memorable campaign to date was our “Vote New Faces for our New Flavors” campaign. We turned the selection of which species to feature on several new chocolate bars to our Facebook fans. Partnering with The Xerces Society, Marine Mammal Center, American Bird Conservancy and others, the word quickly got out and the response was tremendous. In the end, we had three great animals to feature on our new bars (bumble bee, monk seal, and red panda) and the non-profits associated with each were awarded a $1,000 donation and a spotlight inside the chocolate bar wrappers.

How important is it for your chocolate to be gluten-free and vegan?

We want as many people as possible to indulge in a cause with us! Being gluten-free and offering a wide array of vegan options allows us to do that. Our vegan selections are Certified Vegan by The Vegan Awareness Foundation. We love this certification because it helps vegans to shop without constantly consulting ingredient lists and it helps bring the word Vegan—and the lifestyle it represents—into the mainstream.

imageWhy is it important for ESC to have a Fair Trade product and what are some issues and or concerns people may not realize about sourcing chocolate?

When consumers purchase our chocolate, West African cocoa farmers earn a fair price and an additional Fairtrade social premium to invest in business and community projects such as improving education and healthcare, protecting their environment and improving their economic well-being.

As a consumer, when you choose Fair Trade Certified chocolate, you are helping to give farmers, their children and their communities an opportunity to make a real living and invest in a viable future.

What is your most popular bar of chocolate?

Hands down, our 88% Dark Chocolate (Panther bar), the highest cocoa content we offer!

What are some of the most unique flavors of chocolate your company has created?
Our wildest flavor currently available is Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon, Cayenne & Cherry (it packs quite a kick and spotlights the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin). One of the most adventurous flavors from the past has to be Dark Chocolate with Goldenberry & Lucuma (a truly amazing flavor but the obscure ingredients left many consumers puzzled).

What is your favorite recipe to use ESC in?

Whitney, our R&D Manager makes some of the most incredible treats using our ESC chocolate. By far, her Vegan Mint Chocolate Cupcakes are my favorite.

What is your favorite way to eat ESC chocolate?

I like to break off a row of dark chocolate and dip it into natural creamy peanut butter. And thanks to our new Hazelnut Cocoa Spread, I’ve also developed a pretty regular habit of starting my days with chocolate spread atop toast.

What can we expect from ESC in the future?

We’re collaborating with insect experts at The Xerces Society to create a new series of collectable, educational trading cards for our chocolate Bug Bites. The new cards will debut in conjunction with a smart new design that reduces packaging materials by ten percent. Stay tuned!


Image Courtesy: Endangered Species Chocolate

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