Prestat, chocolatier to Her Majesty the Queen, has abandoned organic production after seven years, blaming increased prices and lack of demand. People were now more interested in whether products were traded fairly, said Prestat chairman Nick Crean.
"The price of organic chocolate has gone even more through the roof and we experience very little demand for it," he added. "One of the reasons we wanted to come out of organic was so that we could compete with other brands. People don't buy Green & Black's because it's organic; they buy it because it's Green & Black's. People don't come to us and ask if we do organic chocolate."
Prestat was therefore pioneering a new Fairly Traded initiative, he said. As an alternative to Fairtrade and organic, it has teamed up with market information systems organisation Esoko to subsidise regular SMS texts to farmers, providing them with commodity prices for their crops, so they can negotiate better terms with local traders. The Fairly Traded cocoa is used in its range of Finest Selection Chocolate Bean Bars (rsp: £1.80-£2), launched in September.
Larger-scale brands like Green & Black's could leverage greater buying power on expensive organic ingredients, added Crean.
But Green & Black's UK general manager Guillaume Brochen insisted there was still demand for organic, citing its large blocks' 9.7% value and 7% volume growth over the past year.