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Cadbury abuses Fair Trade brand

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar

The chocolate war between Cadbury and Whittakers has raged for 18 months now and shows no sign of letting up. Cadbury decided to downsize their bars, change the recipe and shift production of some products away from NZ. Local chocolate maker Whittakers kept their bars the same size.

New Zealand consumers have found themselves taking sides as the two manufacturers take pot shots at each other through their advertising campaigns.

Late last year Cadbury made a song and dance about how they were now using fair trade cocoa in the manufacture of their Dairy Milk chocolate bars.

This move was welcomed but with some caution. Any multi-national corporation that jumps onto the fair trade band wagon but only on selected products is probably only doing it for ‘brand’ reasons.

Critics pointed out that by making the dairy milk bars the same price as the rest even though they were being made with more expensive fair trade cocoa, Cadbury was subsidising the product through sales of non-fair trade bars. This was taking sales away from fair trade manufacturers and retailers who wholly supported the cause and were not just part timers.

Time has shown that choc watchers were right to be cynical. The labeling of Cadbury’s chocolate bars has now changed. Previously the primary branding on a bar after the Cadbury name was its flavour. So if it was Crunchie or Caramello that was the major label on the wrapper. Now the dominant label is Dairy Milk. The actual flavour is of secondary importance.

What Cadbury has done is taken the well respected Fair Trade brand and applied it to one of their chocolate bars. They have made much of their commitment to the fair trade cause by using fair trade cocoa in their most popular bar.

Now that they have built up goodwill for Dairy Milk being fair trade they have then made dairy milk the dominant branding on the other bars in the range that use milk chocolate.


spot the difference? Better hurry it is getting harder to tell them apart.

The problem is that all those bars might be made with dairy milk chocolate but not dairy milk chocolate made with fair trade cocoa.

Cadbury’s would call this marketing, but it is just blatant manipulation of the fair trade brand by a multi-national corporation for profit.

Cadbury’s might think they are being clever, but as was proved with the issues of down sizing, palm oil and off-shore production, Cadbury for all their cleverness make a habit of misjudging the intelligence of the New Zealand consumer.

I urge New Zealanders who support the concept of fair trade to support the genuine manufacturers and retailers of fair trade goods, and show arch manipulators like Cadbury that we are not so easily fooled.

I need to emphasise there is nothing dishonest about what Cadbury is doing with its packaging. But it is a manipulation that is ethically dodgy. Unfortunately for Cadbury fair trade is somenting that many people have strong opinions about. For those people this is an abuse of the fair trade brand.

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