Next week, winds permitting, 24,000 bars of hand-pressed chocolate will arrive in the United Kingdom port of Portsmouth with an unusual claim: the bars are the world’s only carbon neutral chocolate confections. Sailing on the 105 foot-long wooden brigantine Tres Hombres, the 100 gram (3.5 ounces) bars of Gru Grococo bar will retail for £12.95, or $21 in stores, which almost certainly makes it the most expensive chocolate bar on either side of the pond.
The partnership between Fairtransport, the Dutch company that owns the Tres Hombres, Rococo Chocolates and the Grenada Chocolate Company seeks to transform the shipping industry. While most industry groups and government agencies insist that transport is only one small part of a food product’s carbon footprint, Fairtransport believes that the only responsible and sustainable way to haul goods across oceans is by sail. The Tres Hombres completes several trips a year from ports in the Caribbean to New York, the Azores, United Kingdom and finally in the Netherlands.
The Gru Rococo promises not only a carbon-neutral indulgence, but to be the least guilt-free chocolate on the market. Each bar is hand-pressed, is sourced from a single estate and is grown from artisan rootstock. The price of the bars is meant to shock: a Rococo spokeswoman told the Guardian that consumers are not paying for the full price of the cocoa industry’s environmental impact. Over 60 percent of the chocolate bars’ retail price is returned to the growers in Grenada. To take a bite out of the price, for now customers can purchase six bars for £60 ($97) while the cargo is still at sea. Break that down by mouthful and the rate is about $2.40 a chomp.
Fairtransport has been operating for two years and started with shipping supplies for humanitarian aid efforts in Haiti. Most of its cargo, 30 tons at a time, has been fruit and rum. The company has more ambitious plans in the future, such as an 8000 ton eco-liner that will run off both sails and solar.