Green & Black’s Remove Organic and Fair Trade Logos

New Green and Black’s chocolate bar will be Cocoa Life certified

Luxury chocolate brand, Green and Black’s announce that its new Velvet Edition chocolate bar will not display organic or Fairtrade certification labels.

Luxury chocolate brand, Green and Black’s, hit the news earlier this month when they revealed that the promotional label for their new Velvet Edition dark chocolate bars will not display the organic or Fairtrade labels.

Green and Black’s is well known for its organic and ethical credentials, having launched its first Fairtrade certified chocolate bar back in 1994, so this news marks somewhat of a departure for the brand. It has also sparked concern amongst parties who fear that it could serve to dilute the effectiveness of the Fairtrade scheme.

Why the change?

Since its ground-breaking Maya Gold bar, this is the first of Green Black’s chocolate bars not to display the organic or Fairtrade labels on its packaging. So what’s the reason behind the change?

In regards to the organic label, it appears to come down to a question of scale, with the cocoa beans for this particular product not available in organic in the numbers required. The lack of Fairtrade certification however, appears to be part of a wider policy by Green and Black’s parent company, Mondelez International.

Instead of the Fairtrade mark, the new bars will display Cocoa Life certification – a scheme set up by Mondelez which is currently being rolled out across all its chocolate products, including Cadbury’s entire UK chocolate range.

Cocoa Life is described by its founders as “a holistic, cocoa sustainability programme” that is independently verified and allows the company to build stronger, more accountable relationships with farming communities. Mondelez also claim that the scheme has helped over 90,000 cocoa farmers to date, with farmers under the scheme seeing their incomes increase by almost 50 percent.

The future of Fairtrade

So what does all this mean for Fairtrade and ethical chocolate production in general?

Although Mondelez is phasing out Fairtrade certification for its products, Glenn Caton, Mondelez’s northern Europe president is insistent that the company remains committed to sustainable and ethical production, and that this doesn’t signal a departure from Green and Black’s brand core values of “great taste, high quality and a commitment to sustainability”. He declared, “We will never compromise on those promises, and remain loyal to the brand’s heritage.”

The Fairtrade Foundation, which last year entered a partnership with Cocoa Life, has also been quick to make assurances that farmers will not lose out as a result of this change, promising that they will “receive a competitive price for the cocoa, additional loyalty cash payments plus further investments in projects and support to improve their farming practices and implement community action plans.”

However, others, such as Ethical Trade Manager for Oxfam GB, Rachel Wilshaw, are concerned that the use of Cocoa Life rather than Fairtrade could cause customer confusion. She warned, “There is a risk of shoppers being left confused as some brands and retailers move away from the Fairtrade scheme to introduce their own certification schemes. With the Fairtrade mark on products, consumers are clear about what they are getting.”

Product packaging and promotional labels undoubtedly play a key role in informing customers and can be the difference between a product’s success and failure. Time will tell whether this move by Green and Black’s will prove beneficial or detrimental to the chocolate brand’s performance in the confectionary marketplace.