On September 20th Godiva, chocolate manufacturer founded in Belgium and then sold to a Turkish holding company in 2007, has launched its first Single Origin bars.
The company has decided to take advantage of a growing trend.
Consumers are increasingly concerned with the origin of their foods. They demand to know where it comes from and ask for transparency throughout the supply chain. Third-party certifications, behind-the-scenes and additional info are what consumers look for.
Also chocolate lovers are on the hunt for signs of quality. Among the most popular terms, “bean-to-bar” and “single origin” seem to give some sort of self-assurance.
On this premise, chocolate giants decided to use these same terms to boost the declining sales of their products.
Thanks to health-conscious trends, chocolate consumers are drifting away from big manufacturers.
In 2016 Hershey’s, Cadbury, Nestlé and Lindt have reported stagnating and even declining sales. With unclear labels and unethical practices, they are not a good fit for today’s responsible audience. The sweetness of their snacks is not enough to attract the new generation of health-conscious eaters. They want simple ingredients, trusted sources and high-quality instead.
How to gain those customers back?
Corporations have found their new battlefield: HIGH-END CHOCOLATE.
They have a huge advantage in marketing these new products.
Words like “high-end”, “fine” and “premium” chocolate have yet to be defined. With no objective standards to identify quality in chocolate (other than experience), the only indicator for inexperienced consumers is PRICE. What divides “high-end chocolate” from “low-quality chocolate” is the money they have to pay for it.
Corporations are adopting new strategies to convince consumers of the higher-quality of their brand new products, and boost their profit margins.
To achieve this new status and relaunch their image, they are planning to:
- get an Organic certification.
- get a Fairtrade certification.
- re-design their packaging with colors and styles associated with high-end products.
- use terms that belong to the craft chocolate movement.
The terms preferred by big chocolate manufacturers to redeem their image are Bean-to-bar and Single Origin.
Bean-to-bar indicates chocolate made starting from the cocoa beans. Chocolate makers source the beans from the places of origin (or buy them from distributors) and process them into chocolate. Single Origin refers to chocolate made with cacao from one specific place (country, region or single estate).
These words were born in the craft chocolate movement.
They now inspire trust and admiration, but it took craft chocolate makers nearly a decade to educate their audience. Tastings, workshops, factory tours, interviews, seminars. It was a huge effort to make consumers understand why craft chocolate was worth the money.
Consumers started getting interested in the terms Bean-to-bar and Single Origin in the past couple of years thanks to craft chocolate makers.
Once exposed to these new concepts, consumers seemed very interested. From market research to Google search, they revealed a growing preference for chocolate holding these words on its packaging.
This comes with no surprise.
These terms perfectly fit in today’s demand. Bean-to-bar satisfies the need for food created from scratch with simple and recognizable ingredients. Single origin reassures consumers on the source of their food.
Big chocolate manufacturers saw the marketing potential in these words and decided to cash in. What was the effort of the craft chocolate movement now becomes a marketing tool for corporations.
But are the terms Bean-to-bar and Single Origin reliable anyway?
Unfortunately, these words are not a badge of honor by themselves.
Bean-to-bar only indicates that the chocolate is made from the cacao beans. The company selling the products didn’t buy someone else’s chocolate. It made the chocolate from scratch by processing the beans.
Making bean-to-bar chocolate is a hustle and an honorable activity. However, the term itself doesn’t hold any guarantee of quality.
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Bean-to-bar chocolate can be made with poorly fermented, genetically inferior or moldy beans. At the same time, the chocolate maker can be inexperienced and incompetent. Putting a big Bean-to-bar sign on a chocolate bar doesn’t say much about the craft chocolate maker. Forget about a big chocolate manufacturer.
Single Origin doesn’t imply any higher quality either.
The place of origin is no reassurance. Not all the wine made in Italy or France is high-quality and worth the price. The same goes for chocolate. Latin American countries are known for producing great cacao. And bad one as well.
Assuming that the cacao from a country is better than the one from another is a big mistake. Some countries might have a better reputation and historical chocolate tradition. However, the Single Origin indication shouldn’t be trusted blindly.
Godiva’s unique selling proposition for its new Single Origin bars is:
“Mexico is the truth birthplace of chocolate, and its beans are known for their purity of origin, smoothness, and dept of flavor.”
This doesn’t guarantee that the cacao used is of good genetics, wisely fermented or well-processed.
The victims of this marketing around vocabulary are unaware consumers. Those that are making an effort to buy good quality chocolate but don’t really know how. Looking for some handholds, they rely on terms like Bean-to-bar and Single Origin.
Craft chocolate makers are battling this usurpation of terms by specifying the origin of their beans as much as possible. Many craft chocolate bars now reveal the name of the single estate where the cacao beans are from. This is something that we might never see on an industrial chocolate bar.
In the end, big chocolate manufacturers are looking at craft chocolate makers for successful strategies. They want a stake of the great success that the craft chocolate movement is experiencing. To fix their bleeding financial statements, they are using terms that now evokes trust and admiration. Will consumers fall in the trap?
What do YOU think of big manufacturers using craft chocolate terms?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.