Local chocolate

The pending closure of the Cadbury factory in Dunedin is another step on the trajectory that big corporates take in the pursuit of their addiction to delivering dividends to shareholders. The closure is reputed to be part of Mondelez’s efficiency drives as it moves production from first world sites to lower wage countries.

Some foods are more local than others. In New Zealand chocolate probably will always require imported ingredients. But Dunedin’s Cadbury’s factory has been a southern icon The Dunedin Jaffa Race is a quirky annual event down the world’s steepest street. The 2017 event may be the last.

Locals responded to the news of the loss of their factory by launching a bid to contract Mondelez to keep making the Cadbury products in Dunedin raising almost $6 million. Mondelez was not prepared to extend the deadline for the bid, so now the group is investigating setting up its own chocolate factory.

While chocolate isn’t local and includes varying amounts of sugar, it is not a top priority to promote as a local food (although dark chocolate has its virtues). But there are degrees of localness. From an economic perspective it is preferable to purchase locally produced rather than imported chocolate.

The corporate addiction

Publicly listed corporations have the metabolism of a hummingbird, driven on frenetically by the imperative of generating dividends for shareholders. Shareholders typically aren’t interested in the sustainability of their investments and will shift their investment to a competitor if the numbers stack up. Mondelez’s stock has risen from a $US16.34 low in October 2012 to $44.90 in June this year. You would think that would be enough, but the voracious drive for profits spurs them on to curb expenses.

whittakers_dark_ghanaDo you care?

I assume that this news is upsetting a number of Kiwis, but what will we do about it – probably very little. Look at the amount of supermarket shelf-space that Cadbury products occupy – I imagine that it will be the same next year, with nothing more than a blip in their sales.

I like Cadbury chocolate, but I won’t be buying any more of it. Stop rewarding people that make decisions like this and don’t buy their product. Vote with your dollars! Buy Whittakers – its a local brand. The cocoa is Fair Trade and dark chocolate has lots of health-giving polyphenols!



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