SOMETHING important is about to disappear from packs of Cadbury Dairy Milk.
It’s not the colour purple — perish the thought — or the glass-and-a-half logo.
In fact, it’s been on packs for less than a decade but the imminent loss is ruffling feathers.
By the end of this year, the familiar blue and green Fairtrade logo will vanish from all Cadbury packs worldwide. On some blocks, it’s already quietly been removed.
Fairtrade will be replaced by a brand called “Cocoa Life”. Far from independent, it’s actually owned by Cadbury’s parent company Mondelez.
The move to its own in house sustainability program comes despite Fairtrade claiming to help around 1.65 million farmers in 75 developing countries by ensuring they receive a fair price for their products.
Cadbury has insisted its own program will replicate much of the Fairtrade initiative and has touted that the Fairtrade Foundation will continue as a partner.
But Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand boss Molly Harriss Olson has said she would have preferred it if Cadbury had stuck with the Fairtrade brand. She also fired a warning shot over the bow of companies turning to their own sustainability labels, if they had little to back up their claims, warning customers would see through “fair-washing” and companies’ “grading their own homework”.
She confirmed to news.com.au that from 2018 the organisation’s relationship with the world’s second largest chocolate maker will change fundamentally.
“Cadbury Dairy Milk will not be Fairtrade certified in the traditional sense. It will be a new partnership, a different sort of partnership”.
She said Fairtrade would continue to monitor and verify elements of Cadbury’s new program.
Cadbury’s move comes as other big food companies, including Nestle and Ferrero, actually expand the Fairtrade mark across more products.
Although the UK-based, US-owned Cadbury has been open for some time about plans to move away from Fairtrade certification, a stir was recently created in Britain when its Green & Black’s label — from its inception, organic and Fairtrade — launched a non-organic, non-Fairtrade bar.
The new product from Green and Black’s, formerly independent but now part of Cadbury, will sport the Cocoa Life brand instead.
Green & Black’s bars in Australia are currently Fairtrade certified.
Ms Olsen admitted it would have been better if Cadbury had stuck with the Fairtrade mark.
“That would have been fantastic from our point of view. The Fairtrade logo is the most trusted model of certification and no corporate label will ever have that independent level of respect that Fairtrade has.
“For consumers [Mondelez’s] intentions are strong and we will be monitoring its impact and independently verifying that.”
The new sustainability mark is being introduced by Mondelez to all its chocolates worldwide including Cadbury and Toblerone.
Cadbury Australia, which has chocolate factories in Hobart and Melbourne, referred news.com.au to comments made in 2016 by Kjetil Undhjem, Mondelez Australia’s Chocolate Marketing Director where he said Cocoa Life was an “evolution” of its sustainable sourcing programs.
The company claimed that independent verification had shown Ghanaian farmers’ incomes had increased by 49 per cent more than farmers outside of the program.
“We support Fairtrade’s vision to drive sustainable livelihoods … And we’re proud to have Fairtrade’s support in helping us achieve this,” Mr Undhjem said.
Cadbury said Fairtrade will continue to be “independently involved” in the Cocoa Life program “to give consumers the confidence that …. they are helping cocoa-farming communities to thrive.”
Ms Olsen told news.com.au she was optimistic about the potential for the $400m Cocoa Life program as it would now cover Cadbury’s entire chocolate range rather than just Dairy Milk bars.
“We want to help them, to monitor the new phase of the program which will have a much wider reach than the current range of products and increase by fivefold the ability to impact farmers.
“[Mondelez] have committed to pay farmers at least the equivalent as previously delivered under Fairtrade”.
Fairtrade will continue to monitor the prices Cadbury paid to cocoa farmers.
But Ms Olsen said there was a growing trend for companies to create their own sustainable labels, some examples of which didn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Like “greenwashing” where companies exaggerated their environmental credentials, so some marks ran the risk of “fair washing”.
She cautioned against companies wanting to add a gloss of sustainability by simply adding a made-up logo to their products and spruiking links to Fairtrade.
“If at any point, any company we’re working with starts to think they can grade their own homework and hide behind a fair washing plan to confuse the public we will call it out and alert consumers.”