Food Links: Why selling $18 bars of chocolate can’t make you rich

By Chantal Braganza - Published on Sep 26, 2016
Producing award-winning chocolate is no guarantee of success for chocolatiers. (cegli/iStock)

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Every week, TVO.org talks Food Chain. Snack on these policy, nutrition and food safety nuggets from around the province and beyond.

Little profit in $18 bars of chocolate

Even in today’s gourmand-obsessed culture, producing an award-winning artisanal delicacy is no guarantee of business success. The Globe and Mail  profiles the successes and travails of Toronto-based Soma Chocolatemaker, a specialty chocolatier that has grown from a relatively obscure food venture into one of the most respected dark chocolate makers in the world over the past 13 years. Despite taking top honours in last year’s International Chocolate Awards for making the best single-origin dark chocolate bar on the planet, it turns out the great majority of Soma’s sales and financial stability come from making novelty confections instead of those single-origin chocolates — a situation that extends to many specialty chocolatiers industry-wide. “Most North Americans don’t wander into chocolate stores in search of chocolate,” Chris Nuttall-Smith, the newspaper’s outgoing restaurant critic, writes. “They come for chocolates.” 

UN Health declares global crisis in antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria — and the livestock industry implicated in the overuse of antibiotics in food animals — were front-and-centre at an inaugural meeting convened by the United Nations during its general assembly last week. The UN declared antibiotic resistance “a ‘fundamental threat’ to global health and safety,” and classified the concern as a crisis-level issue. A general assembly has only classified a health threat as a crisis three times before in its history: HIV/AIDS, non-communicable illnesses including heart disease and cancer, and Ebola.

Hamilton-area farm launches low-carb potato

Due to their high-carb content and tendency to cause blood sugar spikes, diabetics have generally been advised to steer clear of potatoes. A new strain of the starchy tuber, however, might soon make baked potatoes and poutine a little less fraught. The Carisma, a non-GMO potato grown by EarthFresh Farms just north of Hamilton, has recently been approved by the Canadian Diabetes Association as a low-glycemic index food, and is now available in select Sobeys, Longo’s and Metro locations.  Bred from seeds that have been in production in the Netherlands and Australia for about five years, the Carisma  may soon be available in Alberta, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba, depending on yields.    

Craft-beer partnership brings Ontario brewer to Rwanda

A Rwanda restaurateur has recently teamed up with one of Ontario’s largest craft-beer operations to launch the first woman-owned brewery in that country. According to the Toronto Star, Kigali-based Josephine Uwineza is currently in Canada with Beau’s All Natural CEO Steve Beauchesne working on brewery plans and developing recipes for an operation that, Uwineza says, will focus on hiring women from nearby rural villages: “They’ll be growing the raw materials for the beer and will be part of this brewery.”

Syrian refugees driving food bank use: Daily Bread

While Canadian food banks have consistently reported increasing use for some time now, Toronto organizations are reporting another dimension to this year’s stats: a growing number of Syrian refugee families who, between high housing costs and low social assistance rates, are struggling with food costs. Food bank organizers are seeing this increase among both state and privately sponsored families; a Daily Bread Food Bank survey suggests such families are spending upwards of 80 per cent of their incomes on housing alone.  

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