Cadbury's Gives Up the Tin and Turns to Cardboard


Image from the Times: In with the New

With all the interest focussed on Kraft's thwarted (so far) attempts to take over Cadbury, a little noticed but shocking announcement has been made elsewhere. Cadbury's is replacing their famous candy tins with cardboard boxes.

They are calling it "an experiment" because some customers love the traditional tin boxes and there is a fear of backlash. The metal containers remind people of their childhood, and more importantly, are used for storing postcards, sewing needles, earrings, nails or old cookies. But the replacement will save 201 tons of steel a year and cut back packaging by 45%. Plus the price of steel is rising.


Image from Cadbury's: Out with the Old

The tins were first introduced in 1938. They are being replaced with 100% sustainably sourced recycled cardboard packaging which is square instead of round. The difference in weight will decrease the carbon footprint dramatically when it comes to transportation. This seems to be in keeping with greater pressure this season to make packaging greener. As well the square is easier to wrap and the gift inside will be less obvious.

Fear not, the amount of chocolate will stay the same, although the price of the boxes to customers may not decrease.

It is part of Cadbury's commitment to reduce packaging by 25% by 2010. They are also introducing a 28% average packaging reduction on tree decorations which will result in over 25 tons of packaging saved per year.

Last March Cadbury's was the first to announce that they were going to make their dairy milk chocolate bars, as well as packaged cocoa, fairtrade. They will certify all Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars as well as its packaged cocoa, at a cost of £1.5m ($2.1m).

But all is not well in home office. For the last few months the business press has been mesmerised by the attempted take-over of Cadbury by the American food group Kraft. Many fear that the fair trade connection and initiatives will be dropped if the purchase takes place.

cadbury milk

Image from Cadbury

Cadbury has a fascinating history. It dates back to 1824 when John Cadbury, from a wealthy Quaker family, opened his first shop in Birmingham selling cocoa and drinking chocolate. So when the present chairman defends his firm's "principled capitalism" he is talking about a company that has an ethical background. Cadbury has a record of good employment standards and is one of the few companies to still offer pensions to new hires.

As the chairman said:

"We see this principled capitalism, which has been woven into the very fabric of Cadbury over the course of almost two centuries, as fundamental to our ways of working and part of our identity and success. Take it away or dilute it and you risk destroying what makes Cadbury a great company."

Felicity Loudon, granddaughter of Egbert Cadbury, has said that Kraft makes her think of "plastic cheese". However, it is all up to the shareholders and whether they are tempted by the price that Kraft, and now others, offer. This is one corporate battle to watch.

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