Nestlé is converting its two-finger Kit Kat to Fairtrade from January 2013, doubling the volume of Fairtrade cocoa that the company purchases. The four-finger Kit Kat went Fairtrade in 2010.
Nestlé will purchase 5,300 tonnes of Fairtrade cocoa from nine cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire to produce 800 million two-finger Kit Kats a year.
This means that 2.5% of Nestlé’s global cocoa purchases are now Fairtrade.
Last week, Cadbury and Kraft agreed terms for an £11.6bn takeover. It ended a long, drawn out and very public campaign by Cadbury to preserve its independence.
Cadbury's unions have led the opposition to the takeover, warning that thousands of jobs will be put at risk. Kraft now has a considerable amount of debt and a record of aggressive cost-cutting. The Unite union put together an opposition document for Cadbury's shareholders.
Kraft has stated that it expects "to honour Cadbury's commitments to sustainable and ethical sourcing, including Fairtrade" but it looks unlikely that Kraft would continue to expand its use of Fairtrade cocoa beans into brands beyond Dairy Milk.
The deal has re-shaped the global chocolate industry, which is now dominated by just four large companies: Kraft/Cadbury, Mars, Nestle and Ferrero. This excellent interactive graphic at the Guardian website shows at a glance the new companies and their product range.
Nestle is now in the unsual position of being third place, behind the Mars and the new Kraft/Cadbury giant, an unfamiliar role for the world's largest food corporation. It might not remain that way for too long as it is eyeing up Hershey, an American company with an iconic status similar to Cadbury in the UK.
Last week saw years of patient courtship pay off for the Fairtrade Foundation, as it secured Fairtrade status for the nation’s favourite “chocolate biscuit bar”, Kit Kat. The cocoa will come from co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire, and the sugar from farmers in Belize.
Appropriately enough, the news broke on the same day as cocoa prices reached one of their recent peaks: $3,378 per tonne on the New York futures market, the highest level since 1985. Prices are said to have been boosted by speculation about dwindling supplies from Côte d’Ivoire.
The news has been greeted with a good deal of unease among campaigners and activists. Though Kit Kat was originally launched in 1935 by Rowntree and is something of a British institution, Rowntree was of course taken over by Nestlé in 1988, just as Cadbury is looking likely to be swallowed up before too long. And Nestlé has the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s most notoriously unethical companies.