Cadbury to take organic chocolate mainstream

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British confectioner Cadbury is to enter the flourishing organic
chocolate sector for the first time, after acquiring Green and
Black's - the company behind the UK's fastest growing confectionery
brand, Tom Armitage reports.

London-based Cadbury Schweppes​, which manufactures Europe's best-selling tablet-format chocolate brand Dairy Milk, acquired the upmarket company for an undisclosed sum last week - although analysts have speculated that it could be in the region of £20 million (€29.2 million).

Prior to the acquisition, Cadbury held a 5 per cent stake in the organic chocolate manufacturer, which it acquired in 2002.

Since entering the UK organic chocolate market in 1991, Green and Black's​ has extended its product range to include organic ice cream, biscuits and Easter eggs and has recently managed to surpass Swiss confectioner Lindt to secure a 5.1 per cent share of the UK's tablet-format chocolate market.

Last year the company notched up a 69 per cent increase in turnover to £22.4 million (€32.7 million).

Increasingly affluent and health-conscious European consumers have begun to opt for organic chocolate mainly because it has a higher cocoa content than traditional milk chocolate and contains lower sugar levels and no artificial colours, flavourings or sweeteners.

Green and Black's 100g tablet-format organic chocolate, for instance, has a cocoa content of around 70 per cent, while milk chocolate has a typical cocoa content of around 20 per cent.

In a statement released last week, Cadbury's said that Green and Black's would be run as a stand-alone company and that its president Craig Sams, together with William Kendall and Nick Beart, respectively the company's chief executive and financial director, would all retain their positions.

"The premium quality chocolate market is growing fast globally, and Green & Black's taste, combined with its organic and ethical integrity, puts it in pole position to benefit from this,"​ commented Kendall.

Meanwhile, Todd Stitzer, Cadbury's chief executive, swept aside suggestions that the acquisition of Green and Black's did not align well with Cadbury's corporate values.

"Our businesses share a passion for quality products and ethical values so this is a very natural fit,"​ he said.

Despite a Europe-wide drive to combat obesity and diet-related health problems largely hampering European chocolate sales, Cadbury's stock value has risen by over 27 per cent over the previous year and is currently worth around £11.5 billion (€16.8 billion).

Green and Black's was the first UK company to source its cocoa beans under Fairtrade agreements and its Mayan Gold chocolate was the first organic chocolate product to be awarded the Fairtrade Mark in 1994.

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