Trading Fairly

Trading Fairly

A message from our founders…

When we had our lightbulb moment for a modern, quirky chocolate business almost exactly 20 years ago, whilst still deep in the heart of South America, we had already worked out the ideals with which we would run a business; should we ever be privileged enough to do so.

Those ideals were simply an extension of our personal values.  We had both worked in many businesses where we felt the focus had been too much, or solely, on profit and not enough on how the business looked after its customers, suppliers, people, the environment or anyone else it came in to contact with.  It seemed obvious to us that, while profit is important, our business should also be a fun and rewarding place to work, we should do everything in our power to minimise our impact on the environment, we should pay a fair price to our suppliers and we should make the most extraordinary chocolate for our customers.

Twenty years later, those ideals have largely remained unchanged and if anything, as we have grown with more resources, we have tightened and improved controls as well as introduced many new ideas. We will never be finished and will always be working towards improving the way Montezuma’s does business.  To us, this is simply business done properly. Below are some of those ideals and our approach and attitude to looking out for all of our partners and being great people to do business with.

Helen & Simon Pattinson - watch our video

Cocoa Sourcing

Montezuma’s primary aim is to make extraordinary chocolate from the finest organic and non-organic ingredients.  However, all our ingredients must match or exceed both our strictest quality expectations and business ethics which we call Trading Fairly.

Trading Fairly means so much more than the price we pay for our ingredients.  First and foremost, we pride ourselves in sourcing the highest quality cocoa for which we are happy to pay a premium.  For us, the critical point about paying a premium is to create sustainable cocoa production through farmer’s education and investment in local communities, particularly encouraging school education.  Our sourcing policy is a combination of buying the best quality cocoa beans from growers who are committed to a long-term sustainable future.

When we first started out and were operating on a shoestring, we quickly realised that the only way we could ensure our cocoa growers were paid a fair price and worked in good conditions was to buy from an organic cooperative in the Dominican Republic which we have now expanded to include Peru.

Our non-organic cocoa, for which we also pay a premium comes from African and South American origins, supported by certification and full traceability back to source. 

Our key sourcing principles are :

  • We only buy the best quality cocoa beans
  • We are committed to long term sustainability of the cocoa industry
  • All our cocoa is certified and comes from sustainable sources
  • All our cocoa is traceable to source
  • We pay a premium for all the reasons above
  • All our suppliers must sign up to our Supplier Code

There are some countries and regions with particular challenges associated with farmers’ living standards.   However, we are very confident that we source ethically and responsibly as we have done since the business was founded 20 years ago.  We are not complacent and constantly challenge ourselves, and our suppliers, to do better and we will continue with that philosophy.

Other Ingredient Sourcing

We do not and will never use palm or vegetable oil in our products.  We know others use it because it’s much cheaper than cocoa butter but we will never compromise on quality. Nor do we use artificial flavourings or preservatives.

Carbon Footprint

We are mindful that cocoa can only be grown in the equatorial belt and consequently we have a responsibility to ensure our collective carbon footprint is measured, monitored and improved.  We are carrying out a footprint assessment of our own business to work out where we can make the most impact.  None of this is a quick or cheap exercise but as we grow, we are determined that our carbon footprint will not grow with us so we are doing everything we can to measure and plan at this stage. 

While we are taking steps to reduce our own carbon footprint, we are now challenging our suppliers to be more transparent with their current footprint and set targets for ongoing improvements. 

Montezuma’s is currently in the process of seeking B-Corp accreditation which requires full transparency on the environmental impact and we have set ourselves a target of being carbon neutral by 2025.

Energy and Transport

Our teams rarely fly and then only when business critical with no viable alternative..  We carry out all of our deliveries to our own stores at night to reduce congestion, speed the delivery in a more fuel efficient manner and ensure our stores hold sufficient stock, reducing deliveries to every two weeks or every week in peak seasonal times.  All the power (electricity) to our stores is sourced from 100% renewable sources.  Currently 23% of the power used in our factory is from renewable sources and we are lobbying our landlord to improve this.  We do not use gas.

We are also looking at water-cooling systems to replace our air-conditioning systems which currently use HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). 

The Team

It has always been of the utmost importance to us to have a fun and rewarding work environment.  Goodness knows we spend enough time at work so we have to be able to enjoy it, have pride and purpose in what we do.  Happiness is crucial to a high-performing team which is why we measure it each Quarter as part of every team member’s ‘Making a Difference (MAD) review.  We nurture all our people and always look to promote from within.  Indeed 12 of our team have been in the business for more than ten years.  We reckon that’s not bad going when ten years ago, our staff count was around 60 people.

We currently pay over the National Living Wage for all our employees, regardless of age.  You’ll be paid for the job you do, not the age you are. 

When we calculated our gender pay gap in 2018 (which we were not required to do), our female staff marginally tipped the scales by 2.4%

We are proud to say that 68% of our workforce is female, including more than half our Senior Executive team

Everyone enjoys a day off on us for their birthday and, of course, a very generous discount on all our chocolate.

Charity and Community

We have worked with Children on the Edge (COTE) for over 10 years and it all started when they asked if we could donate some Easter Eggs for a children’s treasure hunt.  In our world, everything starts with chocolate!  We have worked in partnership ever since and while it helps that we are both based in Chichester, it is our shared values and entrepreneurialism that have really bonded us.  Children on the Edge do some amazing work with children who live on the edge of society all around the world.

In our stores, we supply paper bags for which we don’t charge.  However, we do ask our lovely customers for a donation to COTE and in the last 10 years our ‘bags for cash’ raised more than £100,000 which all goes directly to the charity.