The pledge will see Quality Street, Toffee Crisp and Munchies joining its other already sustainably-sourced chocolate brands. Nestlé’s UK and Ireland biscuit ranges Blue Riband and Breakaway shifted to certified cocoa last year, along with Smarties, Yorkie and Aero. While Kit Kat Finger 4 and 2 became certified in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Andrew McIver, confectionery managing director for the firm’s UK and Ireland arm, said: “Nestlé UK and Ireland is set to be the first to reach this landmark goal, making a real difference to farmers and their communities. For Quality Street, Nestlé has started purchasing certified cocoa and these products will be on the shelves in time for Christmas this year. This means we are on track to reach 100% by the end of 2015.”
Certified Toffee Crisp and Munchies, produced in the same Newcastle factory as Quality Street, are expected on shelves later in the year.
Nestlé will continue to work with UTZ Certified and Fairtrade Foundation to source the commodity.
Asked what he thought this would mean in terms of positive brand association, James Maxton, head of corporate communications for Nestlé UK and Ireland, told ConfectioneryNews that it wasn’t about how things appeared to the consumer.
“We don’t do it to sell more chocolate bars. We need the volume and quality,” he said.
The move comes as part of Nestlé’s ten-year CHF 110 million ($121.30) investment in plant science and sustainability initiatives, announced back in 2009, which falls within the company’s Nestlé Cocoa Plan.
Pricing up sustainability
Maxton said Nestlé had always been adamant that any additional costs incurred through this work or sourcing changes would not be passed on to the consumer. He said the company’s recent decision to up its prices – a move followed by Mars and Hershey – was not connected to this shift to certified.
Asked if this initiative would be extended to include other markets, Maxton, who is responsible for the UK and Ireland, said each market would “support the initiative in different ways”.
Corporations go certified
Commenting on the decision, Han de Groot, executive director of UTZ Certified, said: “We have seen the willingness of leading companies to invest in and commit to sustainability grow strongly over the last couple of years.”
Maxton told us that it was important to work with third party certification bodies like UTZ Certified and the Fairtrade Foundation. “They’re the guys working on the ground, helping the cooperatives.”
He said such organisations were invaluable in the process of finding the certified producers, adding that a combination of more than one certification body was important to ensure enough cocoa could be sourced.
He said the company’s Kit Kat Finger 4 went certified in 2010, but it took the company two years to secure enough certified cocoa to make the same shift with its Kit Kat Finger 2.