One of Europe’s longest-running trade disputes is officially over. European Union ministers have accepted a definition of chocolate – which will allow the sale of British and Scandinavian varieties across the continent.
A European Commission spokesman said the new rules would give consumers and producers greater choice. This was a dispute that lasted a quarter of a century and was as much about national pride as about ingredients and recipes.
Chocolate or ‘vegelate’
For years, Belgium and France argued that only chocolate made from cocoa butter deserved the name, and that British-style products which used vegetable fats should be called something else.
Chocolate purists have often blocked imports containing vegetable fat. There was even a demand that they should be called vegelate. Now, the EU governments have accepted a compromise agreed in the European Parliament earlier this year.
It means chocolate can contain up to five percent of certain vegetable fats as long as it is clearly labelled.
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British milk chocolate will be called family milk chocolate, but will now be widely available across the EU.
There has been opposition to the new regulations – not only from specialist chocolate makers but also from the world’s major cocoa producing countries who fear a drop in demand for cocoa butter.
Ivory Coast – which produces 40% of the world’s cocoa – expects to lose $270m a year, a forecast challenged by several of the big chocolate manufacturers.