Blog: Dean BestCadbury's Fairtrade move leaves bitter taste - for some

Dean Best | 24 July 2009

As far as consumers are concerned, Cadbury seems to be in a phase of popularity (think the Gorilla ad, the Wispa revival and, now, the Faitrade push).

But, scanning the social networks so keen to cast opinion on Cadbury in recent months (the return of Wispa was largely driven by fans on Facebook), not everyone is so enamoured by Cadbury's move to switch Dairy Milk to Fairtrade.

One Twitter user could not decide whether the move to Fairtrade was a "good thing or a cynical thing".

Another was more decisive - labelling this week's news on Dairy Milk a "con".

"Price of Cadbury's bar of chocolate was raised some months ago 2 prepare consumers 4 their Fair Trade membership," said one NGO director based in Scotland.

Matthew Taylor, a consumer analyst at Datamonitor, stopped well short of calling the move a "con" but indicated that Cadbury's price hikes in recent months had been to pave the way for the Fairtrade switch.

"The Dairy Milk bar has increased in price to absorb some of the cost of switching to Fairtrade," he said.

Let's be clear. Cadbury's work on Dairy Milk was won widespread support for the more socially-aware chocoholics out there, while analysts cheered the news as sound business sense.

However, the NGO's comments did raise an interesting point on price - and one just-food put to Cadbury yesterday.

"The price increases in 2008 were as a result of a number of factors including rising commodity and fuel costs," global corporate affairs director Alex Cole said. "Achieving Fairtrade certification is factored into our business costs. This is an investment in our brand just like other decisions on ingredient costs and marketing spend.

"We believe this is good for business and good for farmers, in order to secure the long-term viability of both cocoa farmers and our cocoa supply."

Consumers seem to broadly agree but, as ever, some elements - even on the social networks that have cheered Cadbury in recent months - are prepared to voice their disapproval


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