Who says being green doesn't pay? Chocolate lovers have reacted with alarm to the news that organic chocolate maker Green & Black's has gone the way of ethical brands such as Ben & Jerry's and PJ Smoothies and been swallowed by a multinational, in this case confectionery giant Cadbury Schweppes. The much-loved fair trade manufacturer was established in 1991 by Craig Sams and his wife, Josephine Fairley. Green & Black's products use organically grown cocoa beans from countries like Madagascar and the Dominican Republic. Their delicious dark chocolate has already won rave reviews from Treehugger. A team of investors bought an 80 percent stake in 1999 and sales have rocketed to £22.4 million a year, making Green & Black's the UK's fastest-growing confectionary brand. Now, in a deal believed to be worth £20 million, the company's management have pocketed a £5 million profit on the sale.
Yummy for some. But enthusiasts are dismayed the company has sold out. "It just goes to show that anything can be bought," comments one poster on a UK news website. "Shame on you G&B.; Will Anita Roddick be selling out to McDonalds?"
Fans of the chocolate are concerned that the acquisition will signal an end to organic ingredients and a fair deal for farmers.
In a statement on the company's website, Green & Black's chief executive William Kendall claims the deal "will help us bring the benefits of organic farming and ethical trading to more people than we have been able to do." Let's hope he's right.
[By Simon Crerar]