Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cadbury Is Choosing Style Over Substance

On February 15th 2010 I made a prediction of sorts.  More than a prediction, I gave a warning to Kraft; the new owners of Cadbury, that they shouldn't mess with these perfect products.  When I wrote the piece, I gave Kraft the benefit of the doubt, but I warned them not to change the Dairy Milk Bar, the flagship bar of the Cadbury line.  It's been a few years since I wrote that post on this blog, and now they've done it.
Cadbury recently changed the shape of the Dairy Milk Bar from squares to bubble-like shapes.  You may be thinking that this is only an aesthetic change, and doesn't really affect the bar that much at all.  But it's not true; with the change in shape, they've shaved 4 grams off the weight of the bar.  Now that might not seem like much to you, but when you're a company selling millions of bars a year it adds up.
According to some statistics, over 350 million Dairy Milk bars are sold a year. When you do the math, Cadbury is saving almost 1.5 billion grams of chocolate a year.  That totals more than 31 million bars worth of chocolate saved. At 59p per bar they're saving more than 18 million British pounds a year (29 million US dollars).  These little bubbles no longer seem so much of an aesthetic choice.  After sampling the bar myself, I can't say that the lack of corners improved my experience at all. If anything, I found that the new shape made it harder to break the bar apart.
Dairy Milk isn't the only bar that seems to be going this direction.  There's a trend in bars and other chocolate treats coming in new shapes, or filled with bubbles.  I'm not convinced that this is really what people want. I'm sure people don't want to pay the same amount for less chocolate per bar.  The reason I think the candy companies are doing this is the fact that cocoa and sugar prices have been fluctuating a lot lately.  The best way to keep the price of a chocolate bar down is to make it smaller. If you reduce the cocoa it can affect the taste, but a few grams shaved off is hardly noticeable.  I don't object to making bars smaller at all; I object to making them smaller and disguising it as a "fun" new promotion.

The best way for candy companies to deal with this problem is to ask the people what they want to eat.  If they want less cocoa in their bar with a cheap price tag, make a new bar that can fill this need.  If they want a better quality chocolate but smaller to keep the price down, make mini Dairy Milk bars.  I love the candy industry because of the variety available.  I like that there are big bars, little bars, cheap chocolate, fine chocolate, and everything in between.  If you make every bar the same by reducing the sizes and changing the recipes, you'll eventually put people like me out of business - all my reviews would just be exactly the same.


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