Sharlotte’s chocolate is not only special it is also fair

Sweet: Sharlotte Bamber who has run Choco Lotty in Worden Park since 2009, and a couple of her chocolate creations
Sweet: Sharlotte Bamber who has run Choco Lotty in Worden Park since 2009, and a couple of her chocolate creations
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It was a tough task finding chocolate which would meet Sharlotte Bamber’s high standards in taste and ethics, but after two years of searching, she tracked one down.

Sharlotte watched a harrowing documentary, Machete Children, about the fate of youngsters who worked in the cocoa trade in Africa, risking life and limb to harvest ingredients to make chocolate.

She knew then that she needed to seek out a good-quality Fairtrade chocolate for her business Choco Lotty, to ensure her products came from an ethical source which supported people in its country of origin.

“The documentary showed kids as young as five removing cocoa from trees,” recalls Sharlotte. “What was happening was a lot of the kids were losing limbs due to the machetes they used.

“And the average (cocoa) farmer was not getting the money - it was all going to the middle men.

“I was so touched by it.

“We searched for a long time for a good quality Fairtrade chocolate.

“It’s something we are very keen on.”

Sharlotte began by crafting bespoke chocolate items - which have ranged from a campervan to a golf course - for customers from her home in Penwortham, as well as boxed chocolates and eggs.

In March last year, she was able to open her own cafe and shop in Worden Park in Leyland. She has extended her ethical outlook into her new premises, which offers Fairtrade tea and a coffee from a supplier which has set up a foundation to help disadvantaged people in Africa.

She also follows a policy of paying her seven staff the same wage for the same level of work.

Sharlotte believes her Fairtrade chocolate, from a supplier in Belgium, tastes better than the mass-produced confectionery on supermarket shelves.

She says: “A lot of chocolate contains vegetable oil as a bulking agent. You don’t get value for money: rather than pay for cocoa butter, vegetable oil is cheaper.

“We do a lot of talks and demonstrations to try to explain why we use Fairtrade.

“It’s about educating people.”

With Easter on the horizon, the acting Bishop of Blackburn John Goddard is also asking people to buy Fairtrade eggs next month.

Purchasing a £3.99 Real Easter Egg, which contains an activity pack about the Christian meaning behind the holiday, will result in a donation being made to Traidcraft, a charity which supports some of the world’s poorest farmers.

Bishop John said: “I hope churches and schools across the county will take advantage of a cracking opportunity to remind people about the reason we eat eggs at Easter.

“But I would also encourage Lancashire people of all faiths and none to buy the egg; not just because of its Fairtrade credentials, but because they will know that buying it will result in a specific donation being made to Traidcraft Exchange.”

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