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Published on Feb 15, 2012
Doing Well & Doing Good: A Symposium on Business Philanthropy and Development
This installment of the series features Theo Chocolate founder Joe Whinney discussing how his company practices business philanthropy.
Joseph Whinney founded Theo Chocolate to realize his passion for chocolate, sustainability and economic justice. As one of the only artisan chocolate makers in the United States, Theo Chocolate is committed to product excellence, supporting sustainable agriculture and improving the lives of farmers and their families.
Joe spent several years in the early 1990's researching sustainable agriculture in the humid tropics as a volunteer for the Tropical Conservation Foundation. Joe learned from his work with indigenous Mayan communities, where cacao was a major crop, that social and environmental degradation are economic issues.
To help build market based solutions for the loss of biodiversity, Joe pioneered the organic chocolate and cocoa market as the first importer of organic cocoa beans in the U.S. in 1994. Over a decade later, Theo's manufacturing process and products reflect Joe's expertise in the global realm of cacao. The same integrity and creativity that have long characterized Joe's commitment to supporting growers worldwide are reflected in Theo's flavor profiles, packaging and taste.
Through his work as an organic food industry pioneer, Joe has extensive knowledge and understanding of:
• Cacao production and economies • Chocolate and cocoa manufacturing from cacao beans to finished confections • Inventory, traffic and logistics management of the import process • Consumer chocolate product trends • Grower related concerns, challenges and issues • Biodiversity and habitat preservation in the humid tropics • The economics, ramifications and true impact of the Fair Trade system • How to effectively provide sustainable market based solutions in the developing world
Joe has provided consulting services to Starbuck's Coffee Company, The Colombian Cocoa Farmer's Association and the Heritage Conservancy in Pennsylvania. He served two years on the Board of the World Cocoa Foundation and various not for profit organizations.