Divine announces new majority shareholder
POSTED 17th June 2020

Divine Chocolate Limited, the leading Fairtrade company set up by a cocoa farmers’ co-operative, now has a new majority shareholder. Ludwig Weinrich GmbH & Co. KG (Weinrich), which has manufactured Divine’s chocolate since it was established in 1998, has acquired the majority of the shares in the company.

Kuapa Kokoo, the farmers’ co-operative in Ghana, that was a founding shareholder, will still own 20% of the shares and continue to have board representation. This means that the Divine brand and the unique business model with farmers at the heart will continue to deliver seriously good chocolate that empowers both producers and consumers.

The agreement also ensures the company can continue its commitment to Fairtrade, a sustainable and traceable supply chain, and distribution to all its customers and supporters around the world. It will continue to remain committed to delivering positive impact for farmers in Africa. (2018-19 Impact Report can be seen here)

Divine Chocolate spokesperson says:

“We are delighted that Weinrich, under its CEO Cord Budde, is now a key shareholder and are fully committed to our mission to empower cocoa farmers and chocolate lovers by delivering seriously good chocolate.

Mr. Budde and his company have proved to be exceptional partners to Divine: not only developing and producing all our delicious chocolate flavours, but visiting farmers, hosting Kuapa Kokoo in their factory, building a school house to add to a school built by Kuapa, investing in establishing Divine USA, and helping in many ways to build our business.

We are genuinely excited about what the future holds for the company.”

In a recent Divine report, Cord Budde, CEO of Weinrich, reflected:

“To be honest, Divine has changed my life. Yes, that might sound a bit impassioned, but it is true. Divine has brought me much closer to the most important part of our products, the cocoa and the farmers, and most important, made me much more sensitive regarding the needs and the livelihoods of those people who are producing this wonderful cocoa.”

At this moment of change, Divine wishes to acknowledge and thank all the investors* who had the imagination and courage to make Divine a reality.

For further information please contact Liz Miller at Liz@divinechocolateusa.com.

APPENDIX:

*The original investors include Twin Trading, the pioneering organization behind farmer-centric Fairtrade brands Cafedirect and Liberation Nuts; The Body Shop; Christian Aid and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), who gave innovative development support in the form of a Loan Guarantee. Supporters Comic Relief, who delivered money-can’t-buy recognition, and Oikocredit who invested so Divine could extend into USA. Also, SERRV, our first customer in the United States who helped us build up sales, and Lutheran World Relief.

Editor’s notes:

From June 2020 please contact Ruth Harding ruth@divinechocolate.com who will be overseeing the UK operation or Toby Bundy (toby@divinechocolate.com), interim CFO.

Troy Pearley (troy@divinechocolateusa.com) continues to head up Divine’s USA operation.

Divine Chocolate Ltd

Divine Chocolate was established in 1998 after the farmers of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative voted at their 1997 Annual General Meeting to set up their own chocolate company. From the start the company put farmers first and center, bought all its cocoa on Fairtrade terms, and committed to investing in farmer-led programs, particularly focused on improving and adapting farming techniques, empowering women, and supporting good governance. Over 21 years Divine has succeeded in creating and delivering a unique brand marrying the pleasure and celebration of good chocolate, and the ambition to do business better, and ensure a more empowering, sustainable future for farmers. The company is not only a Fairtrade leader, but also a multi award-winning social enterprise, a high scoring B Corp, with a brand sold around the world.

Divine has led the way in ensuring farmers have a voice in decisions about their own future, and, since the very beginning, has championed women, making sure they have equal opportunities and access to equal benefits.

Ludwig Weinrich GmbH & Co. KG (Weinrich)

Weinrich is a family-owned company, established in 1895, and now run by the fourth generation, and focused on the production of sustainable and high-quality chocolate bars.

The company is a pioneer in the production of fair trade chocolate with experience in this area for more than 20 years.

www.weinrich-schokolade.de/en/

Kuapa Kokoo

Kuapa Kokoo was established as a farmer co-operative in 1993 when the economy in Ghana was semi-liberalized and it became possible for farmers to form their own organisations to sell cocoa. In 1997 the members voted to set up their own chocolate company, and Divine was established the following year. For two decades Divine and Kuapa Kokoo have worked together to ensure farmers had a voice in the industry, that they had access to good training, that women were empowered, and to facilitate the democratic governance of the organisation. Today Kuapa Kokoo is a flourishing organisation of nearly 100,000 members, producing a significant percentage of Ghana’s cocoa export. Kuapa Kokoo continues to be a Fairtrade certified supplier, and now runs many of its own initiatives for the health and welfare of its members, and to support the sustainability of cocoa farming.

www.kuapakokoo.com/