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Frequently asked questions

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Camino product certifiers

Food allergies and intolerances

Fair Trade practices

Sustainable agricultural practices

Environmental sustainability

The Co-operative model

What is the difference between Cuisine Camino Natural cocoa powder and Cuisine Camino Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

Are you GMO free?

Is your packaging environmentally friendly?

Camino product certifiers


1. Who is the organic certifier?

All Camino products are certified by Quality Assurance International (QAI), one of the best-recognized international certification agencies and a global leader in Organic certification. You can find out more about QAI at www.qai-inc.com.


2. Who is the fair trade certifier?

All Camino products are Fairtrade certified by Fairtrade Canada, the National Initiative (NI) in Canada for Fairtrade International, formerly known as the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO), the international certification system.  Fairtrade Canada is a non-profit certification and public education organization promoting fair trade to improve communities of family farmers. It is FLO’s only Canadian affiliate and works to create and maintain consumer awareness and confidence in fair trade. As our products are Fairtrade certified by Fairtrade Canada, this makes us a licensee of Fairtrade Canada and we are regularly audited.

 
The Small Producer Symbol (SPP – the acronym of the Spanish name, Simbolo de Pequeños Productores) is a relatively new fair trade certification label that has been gaining momentum in Canada.
 
At first glance, the SPP symbol may seem like another logo in a sea of logos – but the movement behind it is unique and profound. The SPP is the first fair trade farmer-owned certification system, representing the emerging leadership of small farmers in global trade. In a world where certification systems have been defined and controlled by people in the global north, it’s exciting and important that farmers in Latin America are taking control and defining what a just trade system looks like to them. 
 
The need for the SPP emerged as a response to changing fair trade certification standards, which have broadened to include coffee and cacao plantations. Many people find this move to be counter to the founding principles that focus on small-scale farmers, who have trouble competing with plantations on the conventional market. In response, the Coordinating Body of Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC) began strategizing a way to keep fair trade fair for small farmers – and the SPP was born. The certification system is run by the nonprofit group the Foundation of Organized Small Producers (FUNDEPPO), who best understand the needs and goals of small farmers like themselves.
 
So what exactly does the Small Producer Symbol mean for farmers, and how are its standards different from other certifications? SPP standards are comprehensive, and include 50 criteria for small farmer member organizations, including maximum individual farm sizes and a maximum percentage of farm work performed by hired help. This means that plantations and large-scale operations are excluded from SPP certification. Buyers who use the SPP label, like La Siembra (Camino), must meet nearly three dozen criteria, including a minimum of five percent annual volume growth in program purchases. This means that buyers are committed to supporting the farmers of the SPP long-term. And most importantly, the SPP is run and governed by farmers themselves. 
Certification labels help consumers to better understand their food choices, allowing them to make informed decisions about what businesses they want to support based on their practices.
 
La Siembra is proud and excited to support the Small Producer Symbol and the farmer-led movement it represents. We hope you’ll join us in supporting the SPP by spreading the word, seeking out the logo when you shop and choosing options that represent authentic fair trade
With contribution from Sara Fiore, Equal Exchange
 


3. Are all Camino products certified kosher? Who is the certifier? 

Most Camino products are certified kosher; however, certain products are not. Look for the kosher logo to ensure a product is certified. The kosher certifier varies by product. To learn more about kosher certification by product, you can visit specific product pages under the ‘Products’ tab on our website to find the exact certifier.

 

Food allergies and intolerances

These questions and answers relate to Camino and Cuisine Camino RETAIL products. If you are a consumer of bulk and/ or industrial Camino products and have any questions on food allergies and intolerances, please contact us by email at services@camino.ca

 

4. What does it mean when there are NO allergen statements following the list of ingredients on your products’ labels?

Very few of our products fit this scenario. This means that the products are produced at facilities where no allergens are present. Camino and Cuisine Camino products that do not have any allergen statements are: Coffee, baking chocolate bars and whole brown sugar.

 

5. Which Camino or Cuisine Camino products are gluten-free? 

Camino and Cuisine Camino products that do not contain gluten or gluten-containing ingredients and are produced at facilities where no gluten is present are: coffees, baking chocolates, chocolate chips, cocoa powders, hot chocolates, chocolate bars and whole brown sugar.

The remainder of Camino or Cuisine Camino products do not contain gluten or gluten-containing ingredients, however, we cannot guarantee they are gluten-free as some of our manufacturing facilities do handle gluten-containing products.  

We still recommend that you read the list of ingredients and allergen statements on the back of the product labels or go to the ‘Products’ page on our website. 


6. Are there any Camino or Cuisine Camino products which are vegan? If so, which ones?

Most Camino and Cuisine Camino products are vegan-friendly: all dark chocolate bars (with the exception of the Caramel crunch bar), Intensely dark drinking chocolate, Simply dark hot chocolate, Chili & spice hot chocolate, coffees, baking chocolate bars, cocoa powders, golden cane sugar, whole brown sugar (note: our organic sugar is not whitened using bone char), chocolate chips and shredded coconut. While many of these products do not contain milk, many of them are produced at facilities that manufacture other products containing milk. Although there are procedures in place to avoid the risks of cross-contamination including very stringent cleaning procedures, regular allergen testing and production schedules which are made keeping in mind the allergens in each facility, we recommend that you read the list of ingredients and allergen statements on the back of the product labels or visit the "Products" section of our website.
 

7. Are there any Camino or Cuisine Camino products which are tree nut-free? If so, which ones?

Many of our products are produced at facilities that handle tree nuts. Although there are procedures in place to avoid the risks of cross-contamination including: very stringent cleaning procedures, regular allergen testing and production schedules which are made keeping in mind the allergens in each facility, we recommend that you read the list of ingredients and allergen statements on the back of the product labels or on our website on the ‘Products’ page.

Camino and Cuisine Camino products that do not contain tree nuts as ingredients and are produced at facilities where no tree nuts are present are: All hot chocolates, cocoa powder, baking chocolate bars, chocolate chips, coconut, coffee and whole brown sugar.

 
8. Are there any Camino or Cuisine Camino products which are peanut-free? If so, which ones?  

Many of our products are produced at facilities that handle peanuts. Although there are procedures in place to avoid the risk of cross-contamination including: very stringent cleaning procedures, regular allergen testing and production schedules which are made keeping in mind the allergens in each facility, we recommend that you read the list of ingredients and allergen statements on the back of the product labels or on our website on the ‘Products’ tab. (Each product’s list of ingredients is published on specific product pages).

Camino and Cuisine Camino products that do not contain peanuts as ingredients and are produced at facilities where no peanuts are present are: All hot chocolates, cocoa powder, baking chocolate bars, chocolate chips, coconut, coffee and whole brown sugar.

 

9. Are there any Camino or Cuisine Camino products which are soy-free? If so, which ones?

Many of our products are produced at facilities that handle soy. Although there are procedures in place to avoid the risks of cross-contamination including: very stringent cleaning procedures, regular allergen testing and production schedules which are made keeping in mind the allergens in each facility, we recommend that you read the list of ingredients and the allergen statements on the back of the product labels or on our website on the ‘Products’ page. 

Camino and Cuisine Camino products that do not contain soy as an ingredient and are produced at facilities where no soy is present are: coffees, baking chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and whole brown sugar (Muscovado).
 

Fair trade practices
 

10. How is fair trade different from free market trading?

Fair trade practices ensure, through a third party certifier, that certain regulations are respected. The differentiating regulation above all else is that fair trade ensures guaranteed minimum prices above world market prices that pay a family farmer for an honest day of work. In addition to this guaranteed minimum price, a premium is paid that is in turn used to improve the social conditions in family farmers’ communities such as better plant infrastructure, support services for farmers, schools, hospitals, roads, water and electricity. Furthermore, fair trade ensures that there is no forced labour, that family farmers have good working conditions and that they are paid in advance to assist with long-term planning and pre-harvest financing. Fair trade practices support sustainable farming and the democratic participation in farmer-owned co-operatives.


11. Who are the co-operatives of family farmers with which Camino works?  

Camino currently works with 18 co-operatives of small-scale, organic family farmers in 9 different countries: the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Guatemala and Madagascar. You can can visit the 'Producers' tab on our website to know more about these co-operatives as well as to learn which co-operative in which country provides ingredients for a specific product. 

 


Sustainable agricultural practices


12. What is organic agriculture?

Organic agriculture means that the ingredients used in Camino products are harvested without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Ingredients such as cocoa and coffee beans are grown in the shade of other trees, often fruit trees. This practice is referred to as ‘shade grown’ and it is an important method in organic agriculture as it helps maintain a sustainable eco-system and the soil remains rich. 

 

13. What is organic processing? 

In organic processing, there are no chemical additives used to transform the ingredients into their final product. Products processed organically are free of genetically modified ingredients and artificial flavours. They are also free of ingredients such as corn syrup solids, vegetable oils or chemicals such as dipotassium phosphate and sodium silicoaluminate. 

 

14. What is shade grown agriculture?

Shade grown agriculture works by inter-mixing a crop with shade-giving trees. When used in conjunction with cacao or coffee production, a natural shade canopy becomes an integral part of both protecting species living in cacao or coffee producing areas, as well as ensuring healthy soil. The shade canopy creates a bird habitat that provides a natural form of pest protection and the decomposing foliage from the shade producing trees provides fertilizer for the cocoa or coffee crops.

 

Environmental sustainability

 
15. What are the internal wrappers of the chocolate bars made of? 

Camino’s chocolate bars are made in Switzerland.  The inner wrappers are made of wood pulp and are biodegradable/compostable;  the outer wrappers are made of recyclable material, printed with vegetable-based inks on acid-free paper and certified by the Forest Certification Council (FSC).

 

The co-operative model

 

16. What is a worker co-operative?

Being a worker co-operative means that our company is owned and controlled democratically by its workers. Membership is open and voluntary and requires that workers invest in the co-op financially and participate in its governance. Worker-owners each have a vote in member meetings, are entitled to run for a position on the Board of Directors and have the opportunity to participate in key organizational decisions.


17. Why is La Siembra a worker co-operative? 

We choose to identify with our partner co-operatives of family farmers by adopting the same democratic, participatory and transparent model that they employ.

» Read more

 

What is the difference between Cuisine Camino Natural cocoa powder and Cuisine Camino Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

 

Camino’s cocoa powder seems to have changed. What is the difference?

We have changed suppliers and processing facility for our cocoa powder. The new cocoa powder product is a higher quality – you might notice a stronger and richer cocoa taste. The new facility in which our cocoa powders are processed (as well as our hot chocolates) is gluten-free, a significant assurance for those with gluten sensitivities.


The label is different on the Camino blue tin Cocoa Powder. What has changed?

In addition to the new facility (gluten-free) and improved cocoa powder product, our current blue tin cocoa powder is now labelled Dutch-Processed to more clearly identify the alkalization (acidity corrector process) common with most cocoa powders.

Previously, the blue tin cocoa powder which was labelled Pure Cacao, was Dutch-Processed (alkalized), but it was only mentioned at the back of the label. Since we introduced a new cocoa powder (burgundy tin) we needed to emphasise the difference on the front of the label – Natural cocoa versus Dutch-processed cocoa.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is treated with an alkali (1–3% potassium carbonate) to neutralize its acids. This neutralization process is carried out by treating the cocoa with a solution of water and alkali, first heating and then drying the cocoa back to the proper working moisture. The result neutralizes acidity and bitterness, raises the pH levels, modifies the flavor and deepens the colour of cocoa powder.


What is the difference between the NEW Natural Cocoa powder (burgundy tin) and the Dutch-processed Cocoa powder (blue tin – formerly Pure Cocoa powder)

Camino consumers were asking for a non-alkalized cocoa powder; we introduced our new Natural cocoa powder and adjusted the labelling of the blue tin (Dutch processed) for clearer differentiation.

Natural cocoa powder is light in colour and has a deep chocolate flavour enhanced by the bitterness of cocoa. It has not been treated by the alkalization process, which means it is natural-processed cocoa powder and therefore maintains its acidity levels.

Natural cocoa powder can be used in many recipes and is best suited for those that use baking soda*, creating a leavening reaction.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder has a rich colour and a smooth cocoa taste due to the acidity and bitterness being neutralized through the process of alkalization (Dutch-process). It can be used in many recipes and is best suited for those that use baking powder*.

 

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is also ideal when making hot beverages because of its increased dissolving property as a result of the alkali treatment.


*as described on the packaging


Which cocoa powder should I use for my recipe?

Many bakers have both Dutch-processed cocoa powder and Natural cocoa powder in their pantry. It is important to follow the recipe when deciding which cocoa powder to use.

Natural cocoa powder, also called Unsweetened or American cocoa, should be used for recipes that use baking soda as the leavening agent, as baking soda relies on the acidity of the cocoa to activate it.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is best used for recipes that use baking powder (not baking soda, due to the neutralized acidity from the Dutch-processing).


Both Camino Natural cocoa powder and Camino Dutch-processed cocoa powder are Fairtrade Certified, certified organic, gluten-free, and perfect for any dessert creation.
 

Are you GMO free?

 
Yes, by virtue of our organic certification, Camino products and ingredients are produced without using GMOs. Furthermore, Fairtrade International believes GMO crops are incompatible with the Fairtrade principles and has adopted environmental standards and guidelines expressly forbidding their use and monitoring GMOs in nearby fields to avoid possible contamination.
 
Camino’s commitment to the well being of our producer partners, our consumers and the environment, and our core values of ethical trading and sustainable agriculture, do not support the use of GMOs.
 

Is your packaging environmentally friendly?

 
Absolutely! Most of our packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable. Please see Our co-op / Our values / Environmental commitment