Chocolate That Is Changing the Definition of Snacking and Society

Five North Chocolate

3. Good Health and Well-Being 5. Gender Equality

Overview

Five North Chocolate is a company that fulfills the UN sustainable development goals (SDG’s) of health and social equality. The innovation is a healthy chocolate snack, made of cacao from farming landscapes five degrees north of the equator in West Africa (where the majority of the cacao in the world is produced) and certified clean ingredients. The product also has a LGBTQ+ seal on it to prove commitment to visibility for the community.

Author

Cindy Zhao

Cindy Zhao

School

Rutgers Business School

Rutgers Business School

Professor

Carmen L Bonilla

Carmen L Bonilla

Innovation

Five North Chocolate is a company started by Ben Conard, who then was just a college student from New York. He wanted to create a product that catered to shameless indulgence. The original idea was a healthy lollipop infused with vitamins, but he admitted that “They weren’t very good”. Though it was an unsuccessful attempt, he did not feel discouraged and continued to aim for his goal. The lollipop idea quickly changed to a chocolate snack. He concocted this snack in the kitchen of his dorm. He only uses the highest quality of cacao and healthy ingredients to make this chocolate snack. He made samples of the snack and gave them to friends and local store customers for honest feedback. With the positive feedback, Conard desired to expand the availability of the product, so he worked with Fair Trade and several sourcing companies in Long Island, specifically Plainview, to produce and deliver more of the product. In the process, Conard was very involved in building relationships with his stakeholders and making sure the product is just as good and healthy. He wanted to make sure to maintain the values and integrity of his product. He expanded to farmer’s markets and is now selling in stores. Conard hopes to expand the business to more hotel mini-bars and regional and chain supermarkets (ie. Whole Foods) and stores (ie. Starbucks). As a for-profit business, Five North Chocolate is self-funded by Conard and any revenue made.

The main problem this company is trying to solve is the concept of guiltless snacking. Conard was frustrated with the idea that there was not a widespread of companies making healthy options to snacking. Along with starting the conversation of healthy snacking, he also wanted to promote visibility to the LGBTQ+ community and spread the message of diversity, connecting its purpose to the UN sustainable goals of health and equality.

Chocolate That Is Changing the Definition of Snacking and Society

Inspiration

College is a place where millions of young adults go to learn and become well-rounded individuals, who hope to use their education to pursue their goals and aspirations. Attending a university exposes you to many different perspectives, ideologies, and experiences. Ben Conard’s innovation was birthed while he attended school- one can say he was inspired by his learning. However, there were a number of inspirations for Five North Chocolate. His original inspiration was to give consumers the opportunity to enjoy sweet treats without having to worry about all the health concerns that are normally attached to the consumption of candy and chocolate. Another major inspiration for Conard was the people who work overseas harvesting cacao for a ridiculously low amount of money. These hard working people, who are often exploited, inspired Conard, to make sure all his ingredients were Fair Trade Certified, as he wants to stop the exploitation of workers. In the end, Conard’s Fair Trade advocacy, Equal Rights advocacy, and health initiatives has definitely made him a model entrepreneur that more people should look up to.

Overall impact

First, the product mostly impacts the customers, who are able to indulge in delicious chocolate shamelessly and guiltlessly. Lots of people worry about the potential damage of snacks to their bodies, but Five North Chocolate has mitigated such worry. Second, it impacts Conard and the company financially through the sales of the product, considering it is a for-profit business. Beyond the company itself, this product has a global and social impact. The company promotes fair trade in the US market, supporting cacao landscapes in West Africa and its farmers. It also holds a social impact as it is the first brand to ever feature the national LGBT Chamber of Commerce seal on packaged goods. This promotes visibility for the community and encourages conversations on diversity and social equality.

In the short term, customers are impacted and will be skeptical about these healthy chocolates when they first come to the shelves, but eventually they will accept the product due to its amazing features. In the long term, the food market will be impacted as Conard is introducing a successful way to manufacture goods that are healthy and affordable. Conard himself hopes that many other companies would follow in his mission with their products, proving that it allows continued success. It is obvious that the sales of these chocolates are increasing, meaning that lots of customers have accepted this product and that there is a high demand for healthy alternatives.

Business benefit

The main benefit of this product is the financial gain for the company. This product is successful as healthy snacks are very limited in the market, making this company unique. As the company is grounded in the values of health and inclusivity, the business is able to pave a way in the US food market for its special purpose. Though the company is small and Conard is the only individual directly involved, the company’s views and values are translated to Conard’s interaction with his stakeholders and possible business partners. As the company grows and employees may be hired, Five North Chocolate’s embrace of the LGBTQ+ community allows for diversity and possibly cultivates strong partnerships with a larger variety of organizations. This healthy practice of inclusivity may also benefit the business through their employees' satisfaction and well-being. Employees would be more likely to be open about their sexual orientation and gender identity in these types of work environments. Consequently, low levels of workplace discrimination would lead to greater job devotion, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, improved mental and emotional health outcomes, and increased productivity among all employees.

Each package of the chocolate snack is personally signed by Ben Conard, which adds a level of personality, transparency, and vulnerability from the founder to customer. This level of personal connection Conard places in the company product benefits the business because it allows the mission and message he is trying to spread more personal, making the effectiveness to translate better with consumers of the product.

Social and environmental benefit

Five North Chocolate strives to better the world that we live in. Five North Chocolate is unique in the fact that it is a food company that commits to the fight for social equality. It is proudly the first packaged food to feature the LGBT Chamber of Commerce seal on the product. This provides a new platform for spreading the message of diversity and starting conversations about social inclusivity, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. As an ally, Five North Chocolate is able to attract a different group of consumers who are specifically looking for socially responsible businesses to support. With this unique mission and purpose, this company is able to be acknowledged, which is also a way for the diversity message to become widespread.

Five North Chocolate is also very health and environment conscious. It continues to support the fair trade industry and cacao farm workers in West Africa. Conard is helping these farmers who may be living in impoverished communities. With these missions for his company, Conard still continues to find ways to help the environment. For example, one thing he would like in the future is for his company to have sustainable packaging.

Interview

Ben Conard, Founder

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Five North Chocolate

Five North Chocolate

Long Island, NY, US

Business Website: https://www.fivenorthchocolate.com/

Year Founded: 2016

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Five North Chocolate is providing a healthy alternative to snacking chocolate. It serves the fair trade industry, general public in terms of health and the society in terms of equality for the LGBTQ+ community.