The Mondelēz-owned chocolate brand – which blazed a trail when it received the UK’s first Fairtrade certification in March 1994 for its Maya Gold bar – has launched Velvet, a seven-strong selection of 70% cocoa chocolate designed for those who find the classic range “too rich and complex”.
But, the decision to use cocoa beans sourced from Cocoa Life, a separate certification scheme set up by Mondelēz International, has prompted fears that rival ethical schemes will confuse shoppers and lead to varying standards.
“As a customer-facing business, we have concerns around the introduction of yet more ‘ethical’ schemes which will easily be confused with Fairtrade and the benefits that Fairtrade has delivered,” said Brad Hill, Fairtrade strategy manager at Co-op.
‘The most recognised and developed ethical mark’
“Fairtrade is the most recognised and developed of all existing independent ethical marks and we will continue to drive Fairtrade forward for the people behind the products.”
Green & Black’s, which was founded by husband and wife team Craig Sams and Jo Fairley in 1991, quickly became established as an ethical brand.
It was bought in 2005 by Cadbury for an estimated £20M, before being acquired by Mondelēz International in 2010.
Velvet bars will be made of cocoa beans sourced from Mondelēz’s $400M (£302M) Cocoa Life sustainability initiative. The scheme aims to secure a positive long-term future for 200,000 farmers and 1M community members in six key cocoa growing countries by 2022.
Glenn Caton, Northern Europe President of Mondelēz International, said the new range remained loyal to the brand’s heritage.
“Everything we do starts and ends with Green & Black’s founding principles – great taste, high quality and a commitment to sustainability,” he said.
“Our team of expert chocolatiers have created Green & Black’s first ever new range with beans deliberately chosen for their distinctive taste, sourced from Ghana.
“These beans are not available in organic at the scale required for Green & Black’s, but I am proud that they are sustainably sourced, independently-verified beans from the Cocoa Life programme.”
Euan Venters, Fairtrade Foundation commercial director said: “As Green & Black’s launches a new product line this month, we’re pleased that it’s continuing to offer a range of sustainably-sourced chocolate to consumers.
“For chocolate-lovers who want to enjoy fully certified Organic and Fairtrade, there will be no changes to Green & Black’s Classic range. The new Velvet Edition will is also show support to farmers by sourcing cocoa through the Cocoa Life sustainability programme, partnered by the Fairtrade Foundation.”
Meanwhile, Sainsbury recently dropped the Fairtrade mark from its own brand tea.