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Sweet success: Chocolatier's eco-focus is just the flavour for food awards

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Allison Roberts for Exploding Tree Chocolate, Co Cork at the 2020 Irish Food Writers' Guild Food Awards. Photo: Peter Houlihan

Allison Roberts for Exploding Tree Chocolate, Co Cork at the 2020 Irish Food Writers' Guild Food Awards. Photo: Peter Houlihan

Allison Roberts for Exploding Tree Chocolate, Co Cork at the 2020 Irish Food Writers' Guild Food Awards. Photo: Peter Houlihan

Chocolatier Allison Roberts is enjoying the sweet taste of success with a conscientious touch of pedal power.

Originally from Canada and now living in Clonakilty, west Cork, Ms Roberts makes all the deliveries for the Exploding Tree chocolate company by bicycle or post. When she came to Dublin for the 2020 Irish Food Writers' Guild (IFAG) awards, she brought her trusty fold-up bicycle with her on the bus.

On arrival, she then pedalled to the Marker Hotel where her dedication to ethics was recognised and Exploding Tree won the Environmental Award, one of eight awarded on the day.

Ms Roberts and her husband, Justin, arrived in Clonakilty 22 years ago "blown in the winds of fate". The brand took its name from his record label, Exploding Tree Records, and they are so passionate about bikes, they've been running the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival for the past nine years.

Committed to crafting with only 100pc Fairtrade cocoa and coconut sugar, Ms Roberts made the painstaking switch almost 10 years ago to buying only 100pc biodegradable, low-carbon and sustainably manufactured packaging.

"Our main mission was to help people connect with chocolate on a new level."

They combine Fairtrade Ghanian cocoa beans with natural sweeteners with the aim of making chocolate that is "easy on the conscience and pays homage to the mystical, humble cocoa bean", she says.

Their environmental philosophy means they only use packaging that can be composted or recycled from post-agricultural waste, plant-based cellulose and post-consumer recycled card. Nobody in the company flies when overland travel or a ferry is an option, which means overseas trade shows are generally out. Both the business and family choose not to have a car.

Fans of their product take out monthly subscriptions. Flavours include chai and chilli, salt and seaweed as well as garden mint and one bar is made with goats' milk.

Irish Independent