Blog: Dean BestMars hits sweet spot in US chocolate row

Dean Best | 17 September 2007

Mars should be applauded for its stance in the debate over what ingredients should be allowed in chocolate in the US.

The confectionery giant said today it has “broken ranks” over proposals to change the so-called "Standards of Identity" for chocolate.

The proposals – put forward by the US Chocolate Manufacturers Association among others – would change the guidelines on chocolate production. Under the proposals, confectioners would be allowed to use cheaper vegetable fats instead of traditional cocoa butter, and use lower-cost milk substitutes instead of genuine milk products.

The attraction of such proposals – particularly in a climate of rising commodity costs – is obvious. However, such plans would serve to short-change the US consumer.

“Even though we could save millions of dollars, we simply won’t compromise the purity and authenticity of our chocolate by diluting it with a cocoa butter substitute,” says Mars Snackfoods US president Todd Lachman. “We will not lower the bar on chocolate quality.”

Those who want to change the standards around chocolate production are displaying a stunning lack of foresight. Demand for upmarket chocolate – chocolate with higher cocoa content, dark chocolate, single-estate chocolate – is soaring in the US and the signs are that it will continue to grow in the years ahead. The growth is in premium, not in producing sub-standard chocolate.

Surely, in this instance, keeping the status quo makes more sense.


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