Monday, 17 August 2009

Cadbury ditches 'new and improved' chocolate recipe

Mon, 17 Aug 2009 5:43p.m.

By Dave Goosselink

Weeks of angry consumer backlash have forced chocolate giant Cadbury to drop its unfortunate experiment using palm oil, and go back to the old cocoa butter recipe.

It is a major back down, but Cadbury has been forced to ditch its “new and improved” chocolate recipe, and go back to basics.

“Consumers have spoken,” says Matthew Oldham of Cadbury New Zealand.

“They have told us very loudly and clearly that they do not wan the added vegetable fat in Cadbury Dairy Milk, and so we are going to take that out.”

Cadbury added palm oil to its chocolate, making it softer to bite. But the blunder prompted hundreds of letters, emails, and even the creation of Facebook pages in protest.

Documentary filmmaker Judith Curran campaigned against the switch. She has been working with orphaned orangutans in Borneo, and was concerned about the environmental aspects of palm oil.

“I’ve seen with my own eyes the massive tracts of rainforest as far as the eye can see that have just been absolutely destroyed… smoking after being burnt and cleared.”

She says the back down by Cadbuy is courageous.

“Nobody every thought that they would do this, it’s just unheard of for multi-national companies to backtrack like this,” she says.

“I think it’s a sign of things to come.”

Auckland Zoo is home to six orangutans and says palm oil production is one of the biggest threats to their survival.

The zoo pulled Cadbury products from sale after the changes, but will be happy to stock the new blocks.

“Another thing that Cadbury need to be congratulated for is the fact they did listen, they did come to us and talk to us directly about the issue,” says Jonathan Wilcken of Auckland Zoo.

“I think they have taken account of people’s concerns.”

Cadbury will not say how much the change hurt sales, but the blunder has boosted local competitors like Whittakers, which has seen a huge increase in its sales.

There has also been a greater focus on the cocoa content of chocolate, with many brands proudly proclaiming their cocoa levels as consumers shop around.