Blog: Dean BestWaistlines and headlines - chocolate takes over

Dean Best | 14 April 2009

It's the time of year when chocolate hits our waistlines - but the sweet stuff is also hitting the headlines.

Chocolate remains one of the most resilient of food sectors, with the mainstream business press also now picking up on the category as a "sweet spot" in the recession (as this article published over the Easter weekend in Time magazine - featuring comment from your correspondent - demonstrates).

And no doubt gorging on eggs remained a highlight for many of us over Easter, although, admittedly, there is always an element of guilt in scoffing too much chocolate.

However, in the UK, it seems some of the biggest chocolate makers are looking to convince us that eating chocolate can not just give us a short-term buzz but also make us feel we are contributing to a more sustainable way of life.

Last week came the latest indication that some of the world's largest food makers still see ethical consumption as a lucrative trend - despite concern that the recession would push ethics down the consumer's agenda.

Confectionery giant Mars outlined a plan to use only "sustainable" cocoa in its products by 2020. The strategy also includes a move from Mars to place a Rainforest Alliance logo on the Galaxy bars it sells in the UK and Ireland from next year.

The plan is the latest move by a major chocolate maker to promote its sustainability credentials. Last month, Cadbury laid out its own plans to achieve Fairtrade certification for Cadbury Dairy Milk by the end of the summer.

Now, the jury is out on which logo will more successfully resonate with UK consumers. Recent evidence has pointed to the enduring strength of Fairtrade as a "brand", even during the downturn.

However, Mars' move illustrates that sustainability remains a key marketing weapon (as well as helping to help others, of course) as brand-owners look to create a point of difference to win consumers' hearts and minds - and wallets.


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