Cadbury Chocolate and Snacks

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Megan Clark
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As I am sure you can all relate, I absolutely love chocolate and consider it to be an essential part of my diet. However, it is incredibly important that our enjoyment as consumers is not dependent on the unfair treatment of the environment and other human beings. Mondalez and thus Cadbury have some clear and promising goals and initiatives in place to ensure and increase environmental and social sustainability along their supply chain. However, their withdrawal from the Fair-Trade agreement to their own sustainability programs (Cocoa Life and Palm Oil Action Plan), means that their sustainability initiatives are not externally monitored. As a result, we are still seeing environmental and social degradation e.g. forest destruction and social injustices, and I am just not convinced that Cadbury are as sustainble as they claim. More needs to be done by the company to ensure that their goals are being met in reality. If possible, I would encourage you to try out some more sustainable chocolate options whilst demanding more from Cadbury and Mondalez. Check out these alternatives:

What it's made of:


A key ingredient in any type of chocolate is cocoa; a controversial crop that has been associated with low working wages and injustices in the past. On the Cadbury website, it is stated that their products are made using 100% sustainably sourced cocoa, obtained through Cocoa Life, the sustainability program created by Cadbury’s parent company called Mondalez. The font is bold and big and distracts from the inconspicuous print below that clarifies that only their dairy milk products are in fact 100% sustainable. They are aiming for all their products to be 100% sustainable by 2025, however the fact that they are not, suggests that the company is still, to some extent having a negative environmental or social impact.

Palm oil is another major component of Cadbury’s products. When you click on anything relating to sustainability on the Cadbury webpage, it takes you to the sustainability information of Mondalez. According to Mondalez’s 2020 sustainability report, 97% of the palm oil that the company used was sourced from suppliers aligned to the company’s own Palm Oil Action Plan. This appears to be a high percentage, however according to Greenpeace, the Palm Oil Sustainability certification that they use has been identified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as one of the weakest. Accordingly, in 2018, it was found that between the years 2016 and 2018, Mondalez contributed to the destruction of over 70,000 Hectares of land, of which, 25,000 Hectares were in Indonesia, home to the critically endangered Orangutan. In 2020, the Rainforest Action Network assessed Mondalez’s contribution to a particular area of Indonesia known as the Leuser ecosystem and found that the company was not adequately avoiding “conflict palm oil”. This is oil that contributes to deforestation, peatland or other habitat destruction and is associated with the exploitation of workers and indigenous people. Although it is now 2021, I cannot find anything to suggest that the situation has changed, which once again makes me question how sustainable Cadbury products actually are.

On a packaging front, the company is aiming to ensure that all packaging is 100% recyclable by 2025. According to their report, they are on track to meeting this goal. They also aim to reduce the amount of virgin plastic and virgin rigid plastic that they use by 5% and 25% respectively. It is promising to see that there are targets in place to reduce environmental harm and recycling can be considered more sustainable than sending waste to landfills. However, often products that are recyclable aren’t always recycled and are sent to landfills anyway and a significant amount of energy and resources are required to recycle the plastic in the first place. Thus, a greater reduction in plastic use would be more beneficial to the planet.

How it's made:


Cadbury was originally a part of the Fair-trade Agreement, which was seen as a major achievement for the Fairtrade movement given the large influence that the company had in encouraging other brands to join Fairtrade. However, in 2017, they decided to transition to an “in-house” sustainability program created by Mondalez, including Cocoa Life and the Palm Oil Action Plan. Mondalez argues that with the Fairtrade certification they were unable to ensure that sustainability was being achieved along the entire supply chain. Whilst this may be true as voluntary international sustainability standards do not have the resources to ensure that sustainability is practiced, their withdrawal is a huge step back for global cocoa sustainability. The Fairtrade’s voluntary standard has created a whole, transparent market for sustainable goods, which Cadbury threatens with its withdrawal. Now Cadbury and Mondalez are responsible for funding their sustainability on their own, which may lead to certain aspects of sustainability being disregarded. Further, whilst they may consult stakeholders in their sustainability standard, it is ultimately owned, controlled and managed internally.

There is not much information available on how the products are actually made, however, in 2020 Mondalez saw a 33% reduction in C02 emissions in the production stage of their products; a 33% reduction in water use; and a 31% reduction in manufacturing waste. They have also been able to reduce the amount of packaging used by 65000 Tons. All of these achievements have exceeded the company’s original targets, which is a promising indication that the manufacturing process of the company is becoming more sustainable. However, Mondalez is still responsible for approximately 24 million tons of C02 across their supply chains and thus, major emission cuts are still required. I would imagine that a significant proportion of these emissions come from the process of transporting the products across the supply chain e.g. from cocoa/palm oil plantations to the consumer. I did not see transportation addressed in Mondalez’ sustainability report, which makes me wonder if the company is addressing such issues. Additionally, the omission of these details makes me question the transparency of Mondalez and Cadbury and I am concerned that the company is failing to provide consumers with important sustainability information. This makes it difficult to assess how sustainable the Cadbury’s products actually are.  

Who makes it:


Cocoa can only be grown in certain parts of the world and its production is focused in equatorial regions, namely Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, Dominican Republic, India and Brazil. Given that Cadbury or Mondalez are not a part of any voluntary global sustainability standard, the company does not have external supervision to ensure that they are meeting a specific sustainability goal. This makes it difficult to gauge how much of an environmental or social impact they are having. It appears that there are several programs in place to improve social sustainability in the countries where the cocoa is being produced e.g. programs that teach farmers to grow crops in an environmentally friendly way, introduce tree planting schemes and help to improve education etc. As discussed above, even when Mondalez claimed to be sourcing ‘sustainable’ cocoa or palm oil, in reality forests and ecosystems were still being damaged and humans mistreated. There also does not seem to be any information as to where the actual products are made or by who, which is something I would like to see Cadbury and Mondalez be more transparent about.