The newspaper claimed that “… websites and social networking forums have been peppered with angry complaints about Milk Tray.”
In addition to “concerns” about the taste, the newspaper reported “… accusations that old favourites in the selection have been reformulated or dropped, and that the chocolate itself is a pale shadow of what it once was.”
Tony Bilsborough, a spokesman for Cadbury’s owner Kraft, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The Mail claimed to have picked up negative internet chatter but there wasn’t anything aside from the normal background noise.The publication used three or four complaints spread over nearly two weeks as the justification for the story,” he said.
“We know they don’t like us particularly [after Kraft acquired Cadbury in February 2010]”
The firm said it had not reformulated its Milk Tray brand within the past five years.
The last major change to Milk Tray formulation came after the ‘Southampton Six’ report, which linked artificial colours and attention disorders in children, said Bilsborough. “That took place around 2008, when we, along with many other manufacturers, committed to removing all artificial colours from our products.”
He acknowledged Cadbury has changed the flavoured fillings of some of the Milk Tray chocolates over the past five years as part of “a continual updating process”, bringing flavours in line with current consumer tastes. “Milk Tray used to have flavours such as apricot, marzipan and violet but all of those were removed as tastes changed.”
Rumour and speculation
Vincent Mitchell, professor of consumer marketing at City University’s Cass Business School, said that the internet made it easy for rumour and speculation about brands to develop quickly.
“The internet can be a huge fan for flames because its nature makes it so easy for something to spread,” he told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “It just takes a click to ‘like’ or forward something, which makes it easy for any rant to grow out of all proportions.”
Commenting on reformulation in general, Mitchell said it was important for manufacturers to test consumer preferences before launching reformulations.“Many times consumers will like the new taste but the company still receives a backlash when consumers find that the old one is unavailable,” he said.