This Halloween, Check Out These 12 Ethically Sourced Candies

Halloween candy sales are expected to hit a record $2.6 billion this year. But where does it come from?

Next week, millions of American children will swarm their neighbors’ doorsteps with open goodie bags, excited to collect their share of this year’s Halloween candy haul. The majority of that candy will get its start as raw ingredients grown on sugar, cocoa and fruit farms outside of the United States. Most of those farms are cared for by small-scale farmers in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, who tend to crops year-round.

Despite the ongoing stream of bad news about small scale farming in emerging economies, more than a million farmers are earning premium prices for their crops. They use those earnings to invest in their farms, send their kids to school and access healthcare.

The big difference-maker for these famers is their ability to generate sustainable incomes by (1) selling high volumes of premium-priced crops under global standards like Certified Organic, Rainforest, UTZ, Cocoa Life and Fair Trade; (2) establishing direct, contractual relationships with food buyers; (3) increasing their bargaining power by forming farmer-owned cooperatives; and (4) adding value to their own crops with technology and machinery.

Each of these arrangements is difficult to set up, and usually requires upfront investment, long-term commitments, and a high degree of trust on all sides. But when these arrangements work, they work well, and they enable farmers to keep more of the value that they help create with their crops.

The trend toward transparency around food sourcing has boosted the popularity of these arrangements. And it is picking up speed. Sales of Fairtrade and Certified Organic products are hitting record highs globally. The strongest growth is coming from areas in the world where many of these crops are grown, including Asia, South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. China is now the fourth largest consumer of organic foods in the world.

In the U.S., ethical sourcing has a longer history, dating back to the 1950s when the first “fairtrade” store in the world began selling Puerto Rican handicrafts. Traceability and transparency in sourcing has come a long way since then, accelerated by technology and a shift in buying power towards more educated consumers. These days, candy brands that use ethical and transparent sourcing methods are not as hard to find as you might think. The top 12, based on Amazon.com product reviews, includes new brands and old favorites:

Top 12 Ethically Sourced Candies

  1. Nelly’s Organics Candy Bars (fairtrade, organic)
  2. The Ginger People Gin Gins (organic, traceable)
  3. Vego Chocolate Bars (certified fairtrade)
  4. Divine Chocolate Bars (certified fairtrade, farmer-owned, traceable)
  5. Kinder Bueno Bars (traceable)
  6. Ghirardelli Chocolates (traceable)
  7. Dove Chocolates (traceable)
  8. Mansfield Maple Candies (certified organic, farmer-owned, traceable)
  9. Ferrero Rocher Chocolates (traceable)
  10. ChocZero Chocolate Bark (traceable)
  11. Joe Chocolates (traceable)
  12. SoChatti Chocolates (fairtrade, traceable)

As food companies turn to transparency and ethical sourcing as a competitive differentiator, they give us more opportunities than ever to buy products that align with our values, not just our diets. That’s an exciting development for consumers, purpose-driven food brands, and small-scale farmers alike.

Miishe Addy is CEO and Co-Founder of Jetstream Africa, a supply chain platform for food brands that source ingredients from Africa.