Environmental campaigners have criticised the confectioner for contributing to deforestation and the disappearance of the Orangutan by using palm oil as a cheap source of vegetable fat.
Back in 2004, for example, Friends of the Earth held a protest in London handing out chocolate bars at the Cadbury AGM relabeled to highlight the damaging effects of palm oil production.
Now the company has bowed to consumer pressure in New Zealand and is returning to a recipe that only uses cocoa butter.
“Kiwi consumers have told us they don’t want palm oil in their Cadbury Dairy Milk, so it’s going,” said Cadbury New Zealand managing director, Matthew Oldham.
Oldham apologised to consumers for changing the Dairy Milk recipe in the first place and said it was their feedback that prompted the company to remove palm oil entirely.
He said: “Now we’re putting things right as soon as we possibly can, and hope Kiwis will forgive us.”
Reacting to the decision New Zealand Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said the u-turn was a great example of how consumer power can make a difference.
Kedgley called for compulsory labelling of palm oil to help consumers vote with their feet over the hundreds of other food, cosmetic and cleaning products containing the vegetable oil.
“Consumers have a right to this sort of information, so that they can avoid buying products which destroy native forests and contribute to deforestation, climate change and species extinction,” said Kedgley.
Production will begin within a few weeks on the reformulated Cadbury Dairy Milk and so palm oil will shortly be gone from the chocolate bars in New Zealand.
Cadbury said it has no plans to remove palm oil from chocolate products outside the country. In a statement the confectioner said: "It is a local issue for New Zealand and it is not relevant to any other countries."