The Chocolate Life

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Call my crazy but I just don’t want the makers of Velveeta messing with my Cadbury bars. Kraft Foods bid (underbid?) $16.7 billion for Cadbury this week, declaring they were offering stock holders a 42% increase on Cadbury’s median share price. Cadbury pushed back, declaring the proposal undervalued their stock and they were confident in their "stand-alone strategy and growth prospects as a result of...strong brands, unique category and geographic scope”. The New York Times reports “a takeover of Cadbury would help Kraft, the biggest food conglomerate in North America, compete with its larger rival, Nestle”, especially in Britain and India. Nestle makes dog food, don’t forget. Kraft’s next move will likely be a run at a hostile takeover, just when you thought those corporate vampires were dead and buried back in the 1990’s. When a giant food conglomerate best known for bologne, hyper-processed cheese-like substances and Kool-aid seeks to attain a company best known for chocolate, I worry about my chocolate.
Cadbury was founded in 1824 by Quaker John Cadbury in Birmingham, England. It is a national treasure in England. Even to its biggest critics (possibly investigative journalist Carol Alt, author of BITTER CHOCOLATE decrying corporate chocolate’s role in the history of slavery), or those who prefer higher grade couvertures, Cadbury does more good in the chocolate world than bad. We’ve just seen what happens when giant corporations consume smaller ones - Hershey devoured premium brand Scharffen Berger, only to close SB’s picturesque California factory and merge operations. Will the flavor be the same? How could it be? Something, something essential, is lost when these things happen. Cadbury milk chocolate - maybe you like it, maybe you don’t - but you sure don’t want it run through whatever hydrolic machine turns milk and whey into Velveeta; you don’t want it’s essence scrutinized by people who specialize in watering down the Kool-Aid for higher yield. I hope the chocolate warriors beat back the food conglomerage vampires, and Cadbury continues to stand alone as a chocolate company with character and tradition.

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Tags: cadbury, chocolate, kraft


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Comment by cybele on September 9, 2009 at 7:01pm
I wouldn't call Kraft's chocolate experience that much at odds with Cadbury. The do own Toblerone, Terry's & Milka.

It's not like Cadbury's chocolate is that far from "cocoa food" ... in the UK and most other English speaking countries where they have factories they add vegetable oil to their "family chocolate" ... yes, that famous UK Dairy Milk bar can't even be called chocolate by the rather liberal American standards.

I would be more concerned about the leaps that Cadbury is making towards Fair Trade (or at least no-slave-trade) chocolate for the mass market. (They also own Green & Black's.)

And for the record, as far as I knew, before Hershey's took over Scharffen Berger they were not making all of their chocolate out of that picturesque California factory - they had already expanded to a secondary facility ... the Emeryville space was largely for public education on small scale chocolate manufacture & a store.

All that said, I agree in that I do not want Kraft to swallow up Cadbury. wish the financial people would stay our of our chocolate. Little good ever comes of it.

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