Belgian Chocolate

A World of Contradictions

Truth Behind Amazon Japan’s Huge Success

26 September 2015 by Christophe Morneau

Paavo Ritala, along with his colleagues at the ‘Lappeenranta University of Technology‘, has studied the numerous reasons behind the success of the online giant, Amazon. With a main focus on the ‘Amazon Japan store which has become an increasingly big player within the business field of contradictions. Which btw. is not even available in English meaning that it is conquering the global market sphere. Well reported by the ‘Kachi‘ blog that is giving vital information from the Japanese e-commerce market and beyond. According to the researchers, the online store utilizes three different business models, which enable it to conduct profitable business with its competitors. In doing so, Amazon is able to maximise resources by sharing the operational costs with its competitors.

Japanese School Kids

Amazon’s three business models that utilise competitor collaboration are outlined in Industrial Marketing Management, the international journal of marketing for industrial and high-tech firms. These three are Amazon Marketplace, Amazon Services and Amazon Web Services and lastly, Amazon Kindle. All of which are increasingly popular within the Japanese market of e-commerce.

Amazon Marketplace gives competitors the chance to use the & (amongst others) online market place to make sales. Competitors are permitted to offer customers their goods at lower rates than Amazon’s own products, but Amazon takes a commission of each sale.

Amazon Services and Amazon Web Services in turn provide a platform and server space for competitors’ own web shops. For example, the now defunct, online bookshop Borders as well as the streaming giant Netflix have both used the Amazon Web Services platform for their online businesses. Increasingly makes money by hosting and developing these services for their competitors.

Amazon Kindle which is even popular in Japan, allows competitors to use a Kindle App on devices, enabling, for example, iPad users to download Kindle e-books without having to purchase the actual Kindle e-book reading device. Amazon is able to sell more content compatible with competitor platforms and thus retain more customers.

“Conducting business with competitors to such a large extent is very rare,” Ritala states in the LUT newsletter. “Amazon’s strategy is to be the world’s most customer oriented company, where others are far more competitor centred.”

This news are both, big in business prospects as well as an alarming business trend for the ‘Belgian Chocolate‘ study team. While we attempt to embrace and learn from good business models to use it for good, in this case the human design as it is often known as has been taken to such levels that the elimination of competitors has become a main thriving factor. Within any business in the world this should not be the case in order to create a thriving and healthy environment for society. What is especially surprising is that a country like Japan has become engaged in such an Americanised model of operations which is seeing a much big turn in the local mentality of doing business. The internet online shopping market has brought such huge responsibility and strain to the kind of us humans that we should be ever more diligent and give room for other companies to grow so that we can find a balance with mutual benefit.

We hope to bring the truth out in conjunction with heightened awareness in this urgent and troubling issue. Our sincere hope is that the Japanese nations takes action and looks at society structure balancing alternatives, such as Rakuten company.

Christophe Morneau

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The Truth About Chocolate Production

28 August 2015 by Christophe Morneau

cocoa tree pods

Cocoa Production

Cocoa is grown in tropical regions around the Equator. The main cocoa producing countries are: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, Indonesia, Brazil and Ecuador. Most is grown on small family farms: only 5% is from large plantations.

Growing cocoa is the livelihood for 40 to 50 million farmers worldwide. Their work is intensive, as the trees need constant care and attention, and they produce beans all year round. It takes a whole year’s crop to produce only half a kilo.

Cocoa beans are grown in pods. When they are ripe the farmers hack them off with machetes. The pods are then manually split open and up to 50 beans are removed from each. The beans are fermented by heating in trays covered with banana leaves, or just left in the sun. This takes 5 to 8 days. Then they must be dried, which takes about a week. Once dried, the beans can be shipped off to the manufacturers.

To the Global North

The farmers sell the sacks of beans to intermediaries, who export them to the Global North. First they reach the grinding companies, who remove the shells, roast the beans, and ground them into cocoa liquor. This liquor is used to produce chocolate, cocoa powder or cocoa butter.

Chocolate manufacturing is a huge business, and confectionary companies make high profits. Companies cut costs to compete with other companies by paying the cocoa farmers less. Most farmers now live on around 1.25 US dollars a day: about 6% of what the consumer pays for chocolate.

The Farmers

Prices in cocoa fluctuate, meaning the farmers’ income is affected. The farmer has no security regarding how much he/ she will be paid, because it depends on supply affected by disease, pests, extreme weather and political instability.

Low income leads to serious human rights violations. Low salaries, unacceptable living conditions and health care. Workers are exposed to pesticides, work with dangerous tools, and long working hours. They suffer from a lack of education, nutrition, sanitation, community management, ethnic and gender discrimination.

Impoverished cocoa farmers are often forced to use child labour to cut costs. There are about 2 million children working in cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast and Ghana alone. Child slavery is still existent, especially in the Ivory Coast, as children are purchased from neighbouring countries.


Due to low income, farmers cannot invest in their farms or plant new trees. Instead of replacing old or diseased trees, it is cheaper to use new farmland. This leads to the clearing of more rainforest, posing a threat to biodiversity. Lack of knowledge around this issue can mean that up to 40% of farmers’ income is lost because of bad maintenance. Farmers can also misuse chemicals, harming local water sources and contaminating soil.

Non Profit Organisations

Organisations such as the World Cocoa Foundation are helping with sustainability, supporting communities, education and research. WCF provides training to manage pests, diversify crops for better income and environmental management. For more information:

Fairtrade has a vision to make cocoa farming more sustainable so that farmers can support themselves, their families, and their workers. In 2012 122 small farmer organisations in 19 countries held certificates to produce Fairtrade cocoa. There is a premium put on this chocolate (why it is more expense for the consumer), which is directly invested back into improvement programmes. You can help by consuming Fairtrade chocolate. For more information see:

International Cocoa Initiative promotes child protection in cocoa growing communities. The Rainforest Alliance promotes sustainable use of natural resources, increased productivity and protecting biodiversity.

The Chocolate Companies

The top 5 chocolate manufactures are: Mars, Mondelez, Grupo Bimbo, Nestle and Hersheys. Let’s take a look at one: Mondelez and see what they have to say. According to the website:

‘’Our signature program, Cocoa Life, aims to create empowered cocoa farmers…. Launched in 2012, Cocoa Life will invest $400 million by 2022 to empower 200,000 cocoa farmers and reach one million community members in our six key cocoa growing origins: Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, India, the Dominican Republic and Brazil.‘’ Source:

However, they do admit that to make a real difference they will need the co-operation of governments within these countries, other links in the chain of industry and other organisations to help them. Mondelez also promotes its affiliation with Fairtrade, the Rainforest Alliance, and WCF, suggesting the company is doing something to help.

Demand for chocolate is growing and growing, so without these changes, it is possible that the chocolate industry will lose its raw product, if it does not act fast. This is something we should all be concerned about, for it will affect the lives of millions around the world: from the small holding farmer, to the factory worker at Mondelez.

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The Chinese Theatre Contradiction Continued

12 November 2014 by Christophe Morneau

On my visit to China in October, I experienced many wonderful things and many contradictory things. I guess you could say that I am still absorbing them, as the abundance of experience was so overwhelming in China. Had it not been for the difficult things I felt about the society, I might not have liked it as much. It is the struggle in life that keeps us improving, learning new things and seeking for happiness. In the Chinese people, you could see that they have had a vigorous training in the field of “struggle”, in the country where the word lazy has not much use. Except, when it comes to foreigners of course. With huge precision the Chinese learn to do one or a few things really well, just so that they could do it so efficiently in a multitude of ways that the performance stands out of the crowd. Standing out after all, is probably one of the biggest parts that is in the struggle. But the definition of “standing out”, is much different from the western sense of the word.

In Belgium for example, one stands out by being an individual and doing things in a new way that attracts the crowd. After all, doing things differently is something to be proud of.. even sometimes up to the point that great results are not that necessary. Why the western world has shaped in this way, is all thanks to individualism. The ego, that wants to be better than others, conquer and even at times to destroy.

The Chinese Contradiction Chaoyang Theatre

You would think that in a nation with such a huge population as China, people would be more egoistic. But sense the individual mindset is not that strong, they can never even start to compare to their western-minded neighbours. One must think of the Chinese as a collective society, that is the very first lesson in understand the people, their culture and why everything has ended up as it is today.

So while the struggle to survive does make people to become better than others, it is believed that a group working together is absolutely essential in achieving that. And probably one of the best examples I could think of in China is the Chaoyang Theatre venue in Beijing. While I am not saying that this is a perfect unity and collaboration within the company that the acrobatic show is based on, it still carries those traditional Chinese values that make it a collective effort. Obviously there are a lot to say about management in China, which definitely has it’s pros and cons, there is equally a lot to say about the people that work there with collective pride.

As with a lot of theatre productions in China, this one also boasts a huge stage crew, with hundreds of performers that have trained, together, and perform without error in unity. If one person trips or falls during the acrobatic performance, it is sure downfall for the rest of the group. There is a sense of respect within the acrobatic troupe, that can be almost smelled from the air. This I believe, is the single biggest reasons why acrobatics are so highly developed and talented that they are in the country. Had it not been for the respect for the group, there would have been a mental battle that is popular in Europe. Perhaps the Chinese “mental battle”, is against the management which is something far reached and not realistic to concentrate on. What is reality to them is the immediate success of work, of coming together to do the same thing over and over again. Making sure that whatever job is assigned to you is done with perfection.

If it wouldn’t have been for the show at Chaoyang Theatre, I probably would not realised this in such huge effect. So for those interested about how collective can China truly be.. interestingly enough, I would recommend going to see the show on your visit to Beijing.

It left me with almost an unrealistic mindset, how the impossible can become possible when people stick together and work as one. It’s a question of belief, and while the Chinese might not be a religious folk they have strong values in an intermediate circle of family, friends and work colleagues.


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Putting Down Thoughts

10 November 2014 by Christophe Morneau

I think blogs are beautiful for when they call for inspiration, you are immediately attracted towards them. Often when I write something, I do not yet know what is going to be written next. It is contradictory also, just like the world. Because I have something to say, even though I do not know what I am going to say before I have written it. It’s a creative process and while listening to some beautiful classical music for example and writing, nothing can disturb you. It frees you from mental strain, stress goes away and you emerge into thought. It makes some of the most beautiful creations some times, blogging that is.

Putting Down Thoughts

I have to admit that this time, I kind of felt like just writing to see if something comes out of it. And it did. The very thing I was thinking about is now manifested in these writings, stored forever in digital memory. For the enjoinment of everyone, from friends to strangers. And that is the way I will keep on with this blog, just making things so that I can think that they are beautiful. If I think so, surely someone else must think so too?


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Back in Belgium Lots to Write

01 November 2014 by Christophe Morneau

I am watching the view of Brussels from my office window, back here in Belgium. The weather is awful, but so was in Beijing. Of course, it’s very different and I rather have the level of pollution here than in China. Still accepting that even Brussels get’s it’s share of pollution from cars and such. But the rain has started, it’s not really Autumn, it’s not Winter either. It’s the in between state that makes me sit at my desk and just watch outside. It calms me and I guess I have gotten used to it. I No longer get depressed about it for sure!

Back in Belgium

The picture above is pretty much, what I can see right now. It’s still beautiful isn’t it? Melancholic, but beautiful. Soothing. Relaxing. And perfect for my mind to go far into the depths of China. I am still much thinking about the trip, what I learned and what I was left with. Which was so much that it will take some time for me to absorb. I have lot’s to write about, but I have no idea where to start. “The beginning”, they often tell you. But for me, it was not a beginning, neither an end. It was a crossroad in the big story of life.

Miss you already China and the great people there. You are contradictory, and I guess that’s why I had such a great time. Always learning something every step of the way. That’s China style, I guess.

See you soon,


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The Big Chinese Contradiction

21 October 2014 by Christophe Morneau

This is a post I wanted to make for a long time, to tell you about some of my experience within one of the biggest contradictions in the world, yet still a relatively small consumer of chocolates compared to Europe.. indeed, The People’s Republic of China.

I have visited this country on several occations, sometimes on business trips and sometimes for leisure. But what strikes me is the unexpected tendency to always come back to this place. In fact, just now as I am writing this I am in my gorgeous hotel room in the capital city of Beijing. This time like all the other times, my visit here is completele a surprise. I was simply called upon, and as soon as I heard the calling I did not hesitate to fly over and come and see again, what’s up in China. The business here is booming, in such a huge degree that a lot of these guys need help. Especially when it comes to management. Skill is what the Chinese excell in, and on the manager level it’s more difficult to find reliable staff. So, they call the experts in such as myself to advice them on issues of trading, dealing with other countries as well as when flexible enough I am consulted about internal issues that only relate to the nation itself.

Emerging China

On latest news, many of you might have heard about the crackdown on Google only recently in the whole of the country. For years, the Chinese could access Google almost as normal citizens, with the occational disruptions in service of course. But now it looks like the disruption is one of a very long term decision. It also reveals a lot about what the Chinese government is going through right now. While this might have come as a surprise for some, for me, it was not such a big thing. Afterall, all one must do is to grab a Good China VPN and hop over the notorious Great Firewall as one pleases. But this was not the case a year back, when there was a big meeting in Beijing and even the VPN connections were blocked. I remember trying to get access and in all it’s authenticity, for the first time experienced what it was like not to be able to access Google and ALL it’s services. While this is luckily not the case at the moment, i can change at any moment as well.

When most VPN server were blocked, this was like a great experiment. We could see, what they were capable off. I remember one particular VPN server, combating with the issue and trying to find other ways around it. And ways they found, several in fact. So in one way, that ban kind of bloomed another industry of “beyond VPN” goers. On the other side, when this happens it’s difficult to get the message across. So in mostly these kinds of expriements are very effective indeed.

Yet, companies are allowed VPN access while for normal citizens it remains illegal. It is, because in truth a modern China cannot survive without a company like Google. But what the government is doing right now, is pushing the breaks more and more, in order to create a gap within society. Those who are privliged, and those who are the more unfortunate ordinary citizens. With all the commerciality and modernity that China has been through, this very divition is the foundations. And when things go wrong, this is the direction where they are headed more or less. It really tells you in the face, what kind of situation they are in now. Change is inevitable but the direction can be altered in tremendously effective ways!

I’ve just booked my tickets, and I am on my way to watch a famous show called “The Golden Mask Dynasty” at the Happy Valley in Beijing. While I am preparing for my evening together with my Chinese colleagues I cannot help to feel like I am just about anywhere else having a business meeting and going to watch a show of sorts. But if something I have learned, is that when things feel so ordinary that in fact it is almost a strange feeling. When everything falls into such category as “normal”, in a country like this. You know, that there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

Sometimes it feels like a theatre performance, you go and watch the show which symbolises the outer shell, the external appearance of things. While you watch, you converse with your clients and just as the performance, if you are able to look behind the wardrobes you can see a whole different world. That’s why being able to speak Chinese is essential, to which I don’t have the capability of doing so. But I always find out something that was not intended for me to find out. The mystery of The Golden Mask is a symbol of how the ancient dynasty operated is not far from todays world. You simply need to understand the history, rules and customs.. it is not a very difficult thing. In fact, in the great dynasties before us it was more difficult. Everything is so founded and based in these origins that people tend to copy each other more. Just learn the language of behavior for each country and different business situation and you can really start to experience the performance that is infact, right before you.

Sorry for speaking in such cryptic tones at times, but it is often the only way.. leaving those who think for themselves ahead of the game. And what I can say for sure, is that Chocolate will become a huge product in China for the future. It’s a good time to prepare, for all of us.

I’m going to have a great show tonight at the OCT Theatre and I have no idea what to expect. Such is life!

Regards from Beijing,
Christophe Morneau

PS. Next time, see you in Belgium.

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Chocolate Does not Contain Sugar

15 October 2014 by Christophe Morneau

I mean, doesn’t the title speak for itself. Well, I guess not for everyone. It might need some explaining for the majority of my readers. Yes, I wanted to tell everyone that chocolate does not contain sugar, until it’s actually put inside. Meaning that chocolate is something extremely healthy, full of nutrition and health benefits. You could call it medicine. But modern man, has put sugar, preservatives, milk and who knows what to make it the forbidden fruit. The thing that you crave for, but you know it’s bad for you. And that, is what makes sugary chocolate so good. Because it’s evil! 🙂

Well, seriously it is evil. Because it destroys your teeth as well as your health in the end probably. But that’s not really the point.

It’s medicinal value is the point and the treasure that has long been forgotten. Thus, the chocolate industry is great symbol of how modern society has fallen in it’s own contradictions to make profit.

An unfortunate situation, but luckily there is a solution to all this. We just need to go back to where things came from, back to the origin of things and observe. Everything use to be so different, and to see the difference of why and how we are in the mess we are today. That is mind blowing, and belgian chocolate corporations are just the tip of the chocolate-berg.

Later my dear readers,

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New Home at “” Domain

20 July 2014 by Christophe Morneau

The previous home as well as the blogging software were not quite what I had intended for providing me an easy blogging platform. Thus I have made some changes, such as moved the previous content to the new home at and updated to a more modern blogging software. It feels very refreshing indeed!

I am ready to continue blogging about issues of our contradictory world. The world that I love so much, yet I have a lot of things that I do not approve or agree with. It’s that love hate relationship that fires me up, and makes me love it even more. So even my compassion and care of our world is contradictory in itself.

But it is simply the nature of our world, to seek balance. While most things are not in balance, including the very atoms that world is constructed from. It is the very things that drives us forward and makes us alive.

Glad to be back,


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But Chocolate is Good

30 June 2014 by Christophe Morneau

It’s always good to make things clear and not just teach people on what they should do, instead explain clearly what one is doing themselves.

This is suprisingly difficult however. I believe, that only by being to explain something in a clear and simply way one has really understood it themselves. So it’s a constant challenge, the human mind wants to think things, fast, without thinking much because it feels strongly about something. Often it’s better to distance oneself from those emotions, not as an enemy but as a good friend. This creates a real bond between the magic of life.

And chocolate is good. It tastes good, in some places in the world it’s made with ethic values, it can bring up people from poverty.. there is a thousand and one positive influences of chocolate I can express.

But just as everything good, there is the bad. But rather than thinking as bad, I like to think of abuse. In fact, most great things that have so much to offer, give with endless possibilities are those things that are the most easy to abuse.

I like to think of natures way of keeping balance. Funnily enough.


Christophe Morneau

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Slavery, World Politics and Belgian Chocolates

22 June 2014 by Christophe Morneau

While I do understand, that the theme and name of my blog could be somewhat contradictory to some, for me it was an obvious choice. Not just because I am Belgian, and I love Belgian chocolates.. but also because of the contraversy that surrounds that theme. It has become a symbol of how “things are wrong in this world”, but at the same time.. especially the western society cannot stop feeding on delicious chocolate made with the help of children used as slaves. But now, the Chinese are after the cocoa too with the market making huge profits and no end in sight.

To understand what I am talking about, I suggest watching the below documentary that gives strong physical as well as undeniable proof that the Ivory Coast cocoa production is heavily produced with the help of children, who have been trafficed into the country and used as slaves. These workers have little or no rights, suffer abuse at the work place and receive no payment what so ever. Naturally, many of them try to escape the workplace which can result in an terrible outcome for the child.

But this documentary lacks a lot of things.. and ends up being a superficial, yet factual look into the issue. Reading the replies, like “I will never buy chocolate again” for those who have seen the documentary is even more interesting. It relly isn’t that simple as it has been made to look.

The whole world is full of slavery of different degrees. Greedy companies abusing not just their workers, but in a way the consumers themselves. The question (which comes with a solution) is much more than just stopping to consume one type of product because of a personal affection towards the protection of children. This issue much bigger and vibrates throughout the commercial world.

There is nothing wrong with eating delicious Chocolate. The problem is, that our nation is alienated from independence to a global world that is faking world security. That’s what I am here to talk about.

Sincere regards,

Christophe Morneau

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