So Cadbury will be a owned by Craft, another icon bites the dust. Not so long ago the much admired Green and Blacks became owned by Cadbury, a certain irony there.
When George Cadbury decided some 150 years ago to combine the business of making chocolate with his Quaker principles of quiet philanthropy, the result was the famous Bournville village which provided high-quality housing at a low-cost to his employees. As he put it: "No one should live where a rose cannot grow."
Baron Mandelson last week attempted to wrap himself in the flag of corporate patriotism by warning that any foreign buyer of Cadbury would have to "respect our company, respect our workforce and respect the legacy of our company". Asked about the merits of the US conglomerate, Kraft, the world's second largest food producer and the maker of products from Oreo biscuits to Philadelphia cheese, announced its intentions in September. Felicity Loudon, the great-granddaughter of Mr Cadbury and a remaining shareholder said: "I identify them with plastic cheese on hamburgers." "My fear is this will all become history and it will be too late. I think the predators are circling. It's desperately sad that yet another British icon could go abroad." Both Rowntree and Frys were acquired by foreign competitors who pledged autonomy for the British firms, only to eventually consign them to history. The Rowntree name was abolished last year and Fry's, owned by Kraft, closed its York factory in 2004.
The Cadbury years (its a bit like Déjà vu)
1900 Bournville Village is handed over to an independent trust by the Cadbury company.
1969 Cadbury merges with Schweppes, ending ownership by the Cadbury family.
2007 Cadbury announces closure of its Somerset factory, transferring production to Poland with the loss of 500 jobs.
Here is a chart of who owns what in the world of chocolate.
But what interests me is the Chocolate War in the late 1990s, which forced manufacturers to state the percentage of Cacao.
In 1994 the European Union was establishing Europe-wide food standards. When they came around to Chocolate, Belgium and France and Germany supported the idea of creating a standard that said only something that was in excess of 50% Cacao could be called Chocolate. England (home of Cadbury which manufactures tons of candy that contains less than 10% Cacao) opposed the idea.
Unsweetened or bitter chocolate contains nearly 100 percent cocoa mass. Semisweet and bittersweet chocolates have added sugar, so their cocoa percentages are a little lower - good quality dark chocolate usually contains a minimum of 50 percent cocoa mass, but can go as high as 85 percent. Because milk chocolate has more added sugar than dark, as well as dried milk solids, it has a lower percentage of cocoa mass, usually about 30 to 40 percent.
Some say say that darker chocolate is better for you. Others say that the numbers dont always tell you which is better.
At first the pro-Chocolate forces looked likely to win. After months of arguments and threatened trade wars, Germany switched sides. So England, and Cadbury won. Anything can be called Chocolate in the EU, as long as it contains at least 1% Chocolate. (In the USA the FDA minimum is 10%.) However -- the EU said that each bar must state on the label the percentage of Cacao that it contains.
That last bit was crucial, and the reaction was predictable. Consumers went to the few bars that were rich & pure, 70% or more. So the milk-chocolate-candy prints the percentages in teeny tiny print on the back, and the pure bars print it in huge print on the front. Even Cadbury has one (in late 1997 they raised the Cacao content from 64% to 76%), called 1898 -- but they do not put their own name anywhere on it, for fear of hurting sales!
In the United States, chocolate manufacturers are not required to declare the percentage of cacao in their chocolate products. However, in typical capitalism fashion, as more Americans become educated about quality chocolate and have sought out fine imported varieties that bear the designation, many producers have been listing "% Cacao" or "% Cocoa." Some have also brought out their own lines of cacao-rich chocolate products.
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