Cadbury milk chocolate is one of the most iconic products from the company. Right on top of the chocolate tray, the packing says “100% Sustainably Sourced Cocoa” and like any other large company, Cadbury also commits to be carbon neutral by 2050. However, how true is their claim and what is the scale of their commitment?
Personally, Cadbury is my go-to chocolate brand. I mostly reach out for their pure chocolate bar. This tray has an assortment of chocolate with other flavours. The tray retails for £2.50, which is quite affordable.
The Cadbury milk chocolate ingredient includes, Sugar, vegetable fats (palm and rapeseed) cocoa butter, glucose syrup, cocoa mass, skimmed milk powder, whey permeate powder (from milk), milk fat, whey powder (from milk), roasted hazelnuts, glucose-fructose syrup, fat-reduced cocoa powder, emulsifiers (E442, E471, soya lecithins), hazelnut paste, whole milk powder, salt, freeze-dried raspberries pieces, flavourings, molasses, sodium hydrogen carbonate, citric acid, colours. The company asserts to source from trackable farms by getting various certification, however some of these certifications have serious voids. For example, the company has gotten the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification for their palm oil sourcing however, RSPO has a history of certifying companies indulged in child labour. RSPO has also been accused of delaying penalization of violating members (9 years in one case). Moreover, as a general rule certification are designed for operations that are already sustainable.
Interestingly, Cadbury introduced their own Cocoa certification, “Cocoa Life” after being part of the Fairtrade International for 7 years. Under the certification, the company’s website shows traceable farms and testimonials from a few farmers. Nevertheless, being an in-house certification, it is also a matter of concern whether there is a proper check and balance of the company’s operations under the certification or not. As well, whether this is yet another sustainability meme that will be followed by similar big corporations and once again the consumer will be lost to fend for themselves in the sea of so-called “sustainable product” with a grim possibility of verifiability? Such in-house certifications also point towards greenwashing, which will be discussed in detail in the Who Makes It section.
Being a notable manufacturer, Cadbury should come up with ways to omit the use of Palm oil. The good news is that it is an achievable goal since Cadbury Australia has banished the use of palm oil completely. I will rate them 1 for this metric owing to introducing their own Cocoa certification which I haven’t seen in my reviewed companies so far.
Mondelez International, Cadbury’s Parent company, has switched Cadbury Bourneville factory to 100% renewable power. By the end of 2020, the firm had already reduced C02 emissions by 20% across all of its manufacturing facilities, including Cadbury, due to increased renewable power on a global scale, which grew from 8% to 23% of total electricity utilised. This rise was critical in enabling the firm to achieve a considerable decrease in CO2 emissions - from 1,336,793 tonnes in 2019 to 1,189,684 tonnes in 2020 – of 147,109 tonnes. This annual CO2 reduction is the same as removing 31,993 automobiles from the road for a year. However, Mondelez International, aim to become their CO2 emissions by 10% by 2025 shows that they are far from their ambitious net-zero carbon emission 2050 target. This means that the true measure of a corporation's sustainability goal is not one side of the story (what they have achieved) but two-fold i.e. what they have achieved compared to what they are set to achieve and how close are they to that goal. Nevertheless, these figures are for Mondelez International overall and little individual information on Cadbury is available. Although Cadbury is doing well on their packaging, pledging to use up to 30% recycled plastic moving away from using virgin plastic, these developments seem seriously nominal in front of the vast human rights violations they are indulged in.
Cadbury committed to Fairtrade certification in 2009 and marked the introduction of Fairtrade certification in the UK. However, in 2016 the company pulled out of the Fairtrade and introduced their own in-house Certification “Cocoa Life”. Fairtrade had been the catalyst across the chocolate industry for ensuring the sustainability of cocoa production and companies like Cadbury had been a helping hand in the process by adhering to Fairtrade. With so many already present in the market, introducing another one creates confusion not only among consumers but also makes the supply chain murky. This is also because Cadbury buys 15% of the world’s Cocoa and their standard sort of sets the path for the market. Additionally, with in-house certification, there are no standard checks and balances on the company’s practices even if they might claim to have them. While international standards may not have the means to cover all areas of a corporation’s practices, they do at least put some degree of pressure and legitimate questions on the certified corporation’s practices. Therefore, these in-house certifications defeat the purpose of standardization in case there are no outside auditors. Moreover, if companies are not ready to invest in disclosing their sustainability practices, why would they want to invest in a mechanism that is more costly? Certainly, they could be doing to disguise their unethical practices.
Cadbury has a history of practising child labour in Africa. According to the New Daily, 2020 (see references), Cadbury still indulges in child labour to source cocoa despite pledging over 20 years ago to end it. Even the west African governments are also accomplices in these violations. Moreover, while Cadbury takes measures to ensure gender parity at its workplace, there are serious gender gaps at cocoa farms and at sourcing level. Owing to these facts I have very little faith in Cadbury and their “Cocoa Life” certification and hope they do better and address issues at the grass-root level avoiding greenwashing.