Based in Auroville, Pondicherry, Mason and Co. is a chocolate company with a focus on building a local bean-to-bar movement in South India. Pioneers in initiating a chocolate trail in India, they source high quality cacao beans through Go Ground Cocoa—a cacao cooperative practising organic cultivation in Kerala’s Idukki hills. With their processing facilities in Auroville, they are committed to creating more livelihood opportunities for local communities in the region.
Several aspects of their operations are designed to be performed manually. After the cacao beans are collected by Go Ground, they are moved to Mason & Co.’s facilities in Auroville. Here, the beans are dried, sorted, roasted, winnowed, and ground by their well trained, all-women workforce. After achieving a liquid consistency, the chocolate is tempered, poured into moulds, and frozen before packaging.
Mason & Co. has also been supporting The Indian Cacao & Craft Chocolate Festival – a platform that brings together Indian craft chocolate makers, cacao farmers, industry professionals, chocolatiers, artisans, and chocolate enthusiasts to enable a dialogue amongst all these stakeholders.
The Locavore Bite
TL Bite offers a glimpse into how a partner producer runs their operations, and reflects their core principles and values. The idea is to provide insights into their practices and highlight their positive efforts descriptively. We have identified seven key areas of assessment – origin and source of ingredients, composition and integrity of the products, workforce policies, production practices, community-related initiatives, approach towards preserving or celebrating traditional knowledge and the materials used in packaging. While this assessment may not be entirely comprehensive, we hope it helps you make an informed decision about why you might want to support them, and the ways in which to.
The information below offers you a snapshot of where Mason & Co. stands on these parameters. We have put this together based on several rounds of conversation with Mansi Reddy, Director of Marketing and Partnerships. Click on a piece of the pie below to find out more.
Why We Love Mason & Co.
- Bean-to-bar advocacy – Mason & Co. advocates for a domestic chocolate trail, wherein every step of the process from bean-to-bar, is sustainable and traceable within the country. To establish this, they are intent on forming lasting partnerships with their stakeholders, which includes their immediate environment, farmers, chocolatiers, and their customers.
- Supporting smallholder farmers – By working with Go Ground Cocoa, which adopts ethical and sustainable methods for cacao bean collection, Mason & Co. supports several smallholder farmers. Go Ground Cocoa and the organic certification body supports smallholder farmers in the forests of Kerala.
- Generating employment opportunities – They consciously adopt processes that require more hands to work with them. For instance, their packaging designs are screen-printed in an effort to keep this skill alive.
- Retracting environmental impact – The water discharged from their production factory is treated in septic tanks, and reused in nearby farms and koi ponds. The team also uses natural surface cleaners like bioenzyme—a fermented concoction of citrus peels, water, and jaggery — in their production unit.
India imports around 60% of its total cacao bean consumption. Why are farmers in India not increasingly cultivating cacao? What motivates you to procure indigenous cacao beans?
“In my experience, farmers are not incentivised or trained on how to grow cacao. Growing cacao is not easy. It is a tempermental tree and monocropping is not the best way to grow cacao – it thrives in a diverse, natural ecological environment. It takes 4 + years to flower and grow pods, its pollen is self-incompatible, and the post harvest fermentation is delicate and starts as soon as pods are harvested. The process requires investment. These factors make it a difficult crop, and farmers may not have the necessary incentives, knowledge, or means to grow and process more cacao.
What motivates me to procure indigenous cacao – chocolate! Everyone loves chocolate. Many parts of India have the perfect environment to grow cacao and yet, we rely on imported cacao or beans. Why can’t our love for chocolate extend to Indian origin cacao? A thriving specialty chocolate market in India is just the push we need to invest in cacao farmers, and to cultivate more.”
— Mansi Reddy, Director of Marketing and Partnerships
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This is a paid partnership with Mason & Co. We strive to keep the practices of a producer transparent and honest across all forms of partnerships.