Luxury chocolate maker NearyNógs in Northern Ireland has worked with iconic London department store Fortnum and Mason on the creation of the new naturally grown and certified organic Sailboat Chocolate which is 99 percentemission-free.
Based near Newry in county Down, NearyNógs, a multi-award winning stoneground chocolate business owned by husband and wife team Shane and Dorothy Neary, wasapproached by Fortnum’s to be part of the unique project to turn fine cocoa from an organic grower in Grenada in the Caribbean into a premium chocolate slate for sale in theprestigious store in London’s Piccadilly.
“We have been working with Fortnum and Mason for some time when they approached us to be part of what was a very exciting and leading-edge chocolate project,” Shane explains. “The store was attracted, in particular, by our use of solar panels to power chocolate production because this fitted perfectly into their imaginative project to produce an organic and a virtually emission-free chocolate product,” he adds.
In addition to producing the chocolate slates, NearyNógs, a Food NI member, organised a sailboat to pick up a consignment 25kg cubes of raw chocolate in the Netherlands and a rowing boat from Boyne Heritage to transfer the cubes when the sailboat anchored in Carlingford Lough. A horse and cart was then arranged by the chocolate maker to collect the cubes and take them to its small factory in the Mournes.
“It was quite a challenge for us,” Shane continues. “We were thrilled to be involved because of our longstanding commitment to organic and fair trade chocolate growers and sustainable production. We have long been committed to doing right by the planet,” he says. “Fortnum’s is working hard to do more things more often to create long-lasting, sustainable change,” adds Shane.
Fortnum’s set out on the emission-free journey towards Sailboat Chocolate because shipping is a major polluter – responsible for around 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions. The project was to transport organic certified chocolate from the Caribbean to Piccadilly using as few emissions as possible. That meant by sailboat, electric van and even on a horse and cart.
The journey of Fortnum’s pioneering Sailboat Chocolate slates at NearyNógs, began with The Grenada Chocolate Company, an organic cocoa farmers’ and chocolate-makers’ cooperative with a radical new business model that resulted in the first ‘Tree to Bar’ chocolate this century, adding all the value to the local economy in the village of Hermitage, St Patrick’s. Each farmer is a shareholder in the company and is paid above the standard rate, with their factory workers being paid double the going rate for equivalent jobs.
The beans were then processed into raw chocolate in a solar powered factory. While cocoa beans are normally shipped across the world to be made into a bar, Grenada Chocolate Company uses zero emissions to craft their chocolate and beans that are fresh, rather than months or even years old.
Once 350kg of chocolate, in 25kg blocks, had been made by the company they began the first stage on an engineless sailing boat. Manned by FairTransport, the chocolate sailed from Grenada to Den Helder in the Netherlands. Once it reached the Netherlands it began its second voyage on T/S Britta, with Silvery Light Sailing – organised by NearyNógs -to Carlingford Lough.
A passionate team of volunteers from Boyne Heritage brought the chocolate to the shoreline at Killowen Yacht Clubusing traditional Drontheim rowing boats.
From the shoreline, the chocolate began a bumpy ride on horse and cart of almost six miles to NearyNógs, Ireland’s first bean to bar chocolate makers. NearyNógs Stoneground Chocolate Makers craft exceptional confectionery in their solar-powered factory overlooking the lough. The Sail Boat Chocolate was heated and broken down into slates, tempered and packed in recyclable, biodegradable packaging before the final leg of its adventure to Piccadilly.
As the final leg of this sustainable journey was entirely on land, Fortnum’s used its own electric vans to deliver the exquisite Sailboat Chocolate home to Piccadilly.
Sophie Young, Fortnum and Mason, says: “This is an important step in supporting Fortnum ‘Future Matters’ commitment to creating long-lasting change, showcasing our values in an innovative way while delivering a delicious bar of high-quality, sustainable chocolate to our customers.”
NearyNógs, which began making chocolate in 2011, sources cacao beans ethically grown in Sâo Tomé, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Panama, Uganda, Nicaragua, Philippines and Ecuador. Beans and sorted by hand, roasted, cracked and winnowed, stone ground and tempered by the small company to produce fine chocolate.
Beans and sorted by hand, roasted, cracked and winnowed, stone ground and tempered to produce fine chocolate. The small artisan business has won major awards, sold chocolate to Belgium, as well as in the UK, other parts of Europe and to New Zealand, Australia and the US.