For those of you who’ve not heard the news yet, British candy producing giant Cadburys have finally made an honest bride out of long-courted once darling of the organic movement, Green & Blacks. (For full details of the story, take a look at one of the many online news sources covering the story here.)
This of course comes as no surprise as G&B have been gradually pouring their melted chocolate selves into the mould of their prospective suitor ever since Cadburys took a 5% stake in the company in 2001, with growing marketing and product development financed by Cadbury clout. Early adopters of G&B (such as yours truly) might feel betrayed by these moves, had we not long since given up on a project that in recent years has seen a downgrading of bean source and quality and a move of production from Provence to the Italian organic giant Icam (hardly the quaint family owned company portrayed in recent press releases – don’t think this is UK made chocolate, it’s not.)
Ok, the chocolate is still organic I hear you say, but while this is true, many other big industrials also make equally good, if not better organic chocolate – Callebaut (as used by Rococo) being just one example. And Green & Black’s is also Fair Trade you might add – well actually this is only true of the spiced Maya Gold bar, the very first Fair Trade product and now sadly diluted from a robust 70% down to an overly sweet 50%. It’s been pretty clear that G&B have been emulating the Cadbury model for sometime, even bringing out imitation organic ‘roses’ and other copycat products.
So is this all bad? Well there are two sides to engaging with corporate mega-nationals, and the management of Green & Black’s might argue that they can add their informed and superior quality chocolate ethics into the Cadbury blend – after all who’d have thought Cadburys would come out with an organic Chocolate, which is effectively what’s happened? And Cadburys themselves have a history of social awareness – moving their bean source to Ghana in the early twentieth century because of concerns over slave labour in other parts of East Africa, though campaigners have been critical in more recent times of their refusal to engage with Fair Trade cocoa – though of course now they own Green & Blacks they can say they do!
You also have to wonder how long it will be before the Cadbury name appears on a Green & Black’s bar. Of course they will want to preserve the brand for now – after all that’s what they’ve paid for, but for how long can they resist temptation? Those with longer memories in the UK will remember when Nestl