The new Solomon Island range from Pure Mill is a collection of single estate chocolates – born from Millie’s strong sense of social responsibly to improve the Islands cocoa industry and remove the walls that traditionally separate farmer from the consumer.
Agriculture plays a very important role in the Solomons. With 75% of the Islands population working in the Ag industry, cocoa is one of the vital sources of income for the Solomon farmers. It is one of Solomon Islands’ biggest agricultural export earners and generates around AUD22.3 million in exports per year.
The quality of Solomon Island beans has greatly improved over the last demi-decade. Farmers have learnt new and improved practices to cultivate and process cacao beans specifically for better quality and great flavor. Why is this important? Improved quality beans equal improved quality of life for the farmers. Let me explain.
80-90% of its cocoa is exported to the lower quality and lower priced bulk market in Asia. “Bulk” is typically pressed for cocoa butter and powder, or mixed with lots of other ingredients to make cheap confectionery bars. But when farmers learn the skills to produce good beans, it goes from “bulk” to “specialty” cocoa, and chocolate makers are then willing to pay higher prices.
Half Solomon Islander Brian Atkin, the founder of Makira Gold, connects chocolate makers to high quality Solomon Island beans, going direct to the people growing and fermenting cacao. Brian's purpose and vision is clear – to strengthen the Solomon Islands specialty cacao industry and provide economic opportunities for his impoverished rural community in his village on Makira.
As well as working in Australia, Brian keeps busy by working with a number of farmers to help run projects for farms, fermenting and sundrying facilities, as well as export and Australian distribution.
We have been lucky enough to meet Brian recently at the Regional Flavors festival in Brisbane and are happy to be working with him, as we feel his process is aligned with our values. We are proud to have produced some intriguing and wonderful tasting chocolates (plus a few more in the process now) from different Solomon farmers.
The bars are all 70%, but taste markedly different due to the variations of the cocoa beans and the people and places they came from.
Our hope is that next time you enjoy one of our bars, you will think about the growers and producers, linking the connection of where your food came from, with respect for the ingredients and the people who grew it.
To learn more about Brian's company and the farmers, visit