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Green & black’s founder believes kraft will look after his child

February 1, 2010

Green & Black’s built its reputation by pioneering Fair Trade chocolate, it successfully managed to maintain this despite being acquired by Cadbury.

G&B managed to “infect” Cadbury and got it to incorporate a lot of their ethical smarts into their own brand. Now with Cadbury being purchased by Kraft, many are questioning if the American company has what it takes to maintain the progress made by these two brands.

In a recent article in The Guardian, one of the founder’s of Green & Black’s was somewhat optimistic about the prospects. On a side note, it’s interesting, he points his finger at consumers for not demanding organic and Fair Trade from brands, of course, this is a little chicken and egg because it often takes a company to lead consumers, as we’ve seen with Wal-Mart.

“A brand is like a child. It is born into this world, fragile and in
great need of parental care and attention. Eventually you send it off
to school and university, entrusting it to the care of others. Then it
embarks on its career. Green & Black’s, to follow the analogy, was
nurtured to maturity and eventually got a good job at a big
multinational.

It’s still our baby. The fact that it can now look
forward to continuing its career development with another multinational
with a different name (and most of the same shareholders) is not a
great cause for concern.

If Kraft screwed up with Green &
Black’s it would damage their reputation and cast a shadow over their
competence. But there is no reason to expect them to goof. They have
converted US household names like Oreos and Ritz crackers to organic
and even do an organic macaroni-and-cheese dinner.

Every
successful organic product represents another welcome step forward in
the vital process, whereby the GM dependent climate-destructive
industrial farming model gives way to sustainable, organic and fair
ways of producing food. Successful corporations identify and follow
these deeper underlying trends and would be betraying their
shareholders’ interest in trying to reverse them.

Frankly, it’s
the consumers who don’t buy organic and fair products that upset me the
most. Consumers have a choice, companies don’t, they only sell what
customers buy. Kraft and Cadbury are on the right track and I am
confident the new entity will continue to pursue this.

I have no idea if Kraft will ask me to stay on as president, but if they don’t that could be your canary in the coal mine.”

Kraft’s indirect purchase of Green & Black’s follows a familiar pattern of ethical companies falling into their hands of  giant corporations- Ben and Jerry’s at Unilever, Howies at Timberland and The Body Shop at L’Oreal.

Many of the ethical companies start out with the belief that it’s possible to change the world and when purchased may still harbor idealistic notions of this dream because of scale. However, for the acquring company to radically change it’s operations, brands etc to all be in-line with the ethical company, is highly unlikely because it’s just simply too hard to do.

What’s more likely is a token response where the ethical brands sit in limbo and nothing really changes. They can grow because they can distribution muscle, but beyond that, they can’t do much.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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