Our research suggests that, in Sydney at least, bean-to-bar chocolate retails at between $8 and $14. When you see a block of Dairy Milk chocolate in the supermarket on sale for $2.50, it is understandable that this seems like a big difference. But, a block of bean-to-bar chocolate is always going to be more expensive than a block of mass produced chocolate, because they are different products. It is like asking why a barista coffee is more expensive than Nescafe, or why craft beer is more expensive than VB.
In the US, the minimum cocoa content for a product to be called chocolate only is 10%, although in Australia most supermarket chocolate is around 30%. This means the rest of the bar is made up of sugar and cheaper ingredients like vegetable oil, stabilisers, preservatives and fillers. In contrast, many bean-to-bar chocolates contain only two ingredients – cocoa and sugar, with the cocoa in much higher proportion than supermarket products. Not only does this give you a higher quality product in terms of flavour, it also means that any health benefits associated with cocoa are more likely with bean-to-bar chocolate, where the concentration of cocoa is greater.
Many bean-to-bar producers are also committed to producing an ethical product, and use organic cocoa sourced through fair direct or direct trade farms – paying a fair price for their beans makes it more expensive. And finally, if there is only a small group of people responsible for the chocolate making process, this means that it is difficult to get economies of scale, because they can only work with small batches.
All of this adds up to a more expensive bar of chocolate, but one that is worth the extra cost because you are getting a high quality, ethical, craft product that supports a small business and the actual cocoa farmers. And can you really put a price on guilt free great chocolate!