Ethical Christmas chocolate

The festive season is always a good opportunity to overindulge in chocolate, but when it comes to what types of product UK consumers buy at Christmas, new research suggests they look for those with ethical credentials.

Euromonitor International has found that UK consumers look to infuse ethical living concepts into their Christmas chocolate purchase with retail sales of boxed chocolates bearing at least one ethical label reached US$1.3 billion in the UK last year.

Hope Lee, senior beverages analyst at Euromonitor International, explains, “In many Western European countries, sales of boxed chocolates peak at Christmas, and a growing number now carry ethical labels.

“Consumers may not be aware that their favourite boxed chocolate brands are sometimes linked to third party certification or in-house sustainable development programmes.”

Chocolate makers, Lee says, realise that sustainable supply of their key commodity – cocoa – is crucial to business sustainability and spend millions on sustaining these programmes before they start selling the actual chocolates.

Nutella and Kinder Bueno owner Ferrero has a versatile sustainability strategy, with three pillars: Development of projects and partnership (such as GeoTraceability), adoption of certificates and standards (such as the Rainforest Alliance), institutional and collective engagement (such as the World Cocoa Foundation). For cocoa, the company is sourcing sustainable raw material with the following certification standards: UTZ Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified and Fairtrade.

Euromonitor’s Ethical Labels database shows that UTZ certification is widely used in boxed and seasonal chocolates in Germany, the UK and Netherlands while the Fairtrade mark is prominent in Sweden.

So Christmas is not only about indulgence, it’s also about appreciating manufacturers’ sustainable sourcing strategies it seems.

“International brand owners are not waiting until every single chocolate lover starts to fully appreciate the resources they spend on sustainable sourcing; they are making extensive efforts to run their initiatives, and these efforts in sustainable sourcing should be celebrated and applauded,” Lee notes. “But it will take time for them to standardise their ethical labelling efforts in both developed and developing markets.”

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