KitKat is the biggest selling chocolate bar in the UK and it sales in that country have risen 8.6 per cent since the start of the year. Certification of the brand would certainly catapult the notion of Fairtrade into the minds of chocolate consumers.
However, a spokesperson for the UK arm of Swiss giant Nestlé told Confectionery News.com that the company was currently unable to comment on the media reports.
She stressed that Nestlé is involved in initiatives to promote a sustainable cocoa supply and, as such, is in continuous discussions with groups like the Fairtrade Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance.
“As one of the world’s largest buyers of coffee and cocoa, Nestlé has always and continues to take very seriously its responsibility to ensure that these crops are produced in a way that produces value right through the supply chain – particularly for farmers,” continued the spokesperson.
She added that last month Nestlé launched its Cocoa Plan, which is aimed at supporting cocoa farmers to increase production in order to tackle the hike in global prices, through training measures and the supply of 38 million disease-resistant plantlets.
No one was available from the Fairtrade Foundation to confirm if discussions had taken place with Nestlé at the time of publication.
Last March, Cadbury announced its commitment to source Fairtrade cocoa for its iconic Dairy Milk chocolate bars and drinking chocolate in the British and Irish markets. Sales of Dairy Milk in the UK and Ireland are worth £200m (€214m).
Speaking to this publication, Richard Watts, campaign manager at UK based advocacy group, Sustain, said that Fairtrade certification of products is good news for a lot of people in the developing world but he questioned why a company would seek Fairtrade certification for only one of its brands.
“We would like to see companies like Cadbury and Nestle give a wholehearted commitment to Fairtrade and seek certification for all their chocolate brands. If they can do it for one chocolate bar, why not across the rest of their range,” he argues.
The Fairtrade mark is a label that appears on products as an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in poor countries are getting a better deal. For a product to display the Fairtrade Mark it must meet international Fairtrade standards
Structured on the premise that trade, and a fair price, is a vital route out of poverty for cocoa farmers, the Fairtrade network guarantees suppliers a minimum 'best deal' price.
Producers receive a minimum price that covers the cost of sustainable production and an extra premium that is invested in social or economic development projects.
A recent Leatherhead Food Research report on the confectionery market found that, in the more developed parts of the world, sales of chocolate have been aided by the growing demand for more premium varieties, such as single-origin and Fairtrade products, as consumers become more discerning.