Years to regain trust - Cadbury

Confectionery giant Cadbury says it will take “years not months” to rebuild consumer trust in New Zealand after widespread criticism over its use of palm oil.Daniel Ellis, corporate affairs manager for Cadbury's owner Kraft Foods, says New Zealanders have been a lot more “passionate” about the fact that Cadbury chocolate containing substituted cocoa butter with vegetable fat, including palm oil, was on shelves for 10 weeks before it was exposed.

Confectionery giant Cadbury says it will take “years not months” to rebuild consumer trust in New Zealand after widespread criticism over its use of palm oil.

Daniel Ellis, corporate affairs manager for Cadbury’s owner Kraft Foods, says New Zealanders have been a lot more “passionate” about the fact that Cadbury chocolate containing substituted cocoa butter with vegetable fat, including palm oil, was on shelves for 10 weeks before it was exposed.

“Trust is one of those things that takes years and years to build, and minutes to erode, and I think we’ve got a long way back in terms of trying to build that trust back but it’s certainly something that we are aiming at doing.”

The company took a hard fall to 36th place after six years of being New Zealand’s most trusted brand, according to the annual 2010 Reader’s Digest Trust Survey.

Wattie’s beat 132 brands to win the title of the most trusted brand, while locally owned chocolate company Whittaker’s came in for the first at number five after a publicity campaign during the palm oil affair.

“The passion around the removal of palm oil is certainly stronger in New Zealand than in Australia and I think that’s the main reason why consumers in New Zealand voted the way that they did,” Mr Ellis says.

“I think it’s important we show consumers that we are committed to rebuilding that trust however long it takes.”

He says removing palm oil out of the company’s products and gaining Fair Trade certification recently are the first steps at rebuilding that trust.

But New Zealand is “quite a few years behind in terms of [customer] awareness, so for a big company like Cadbury to come out and say that we are bringing Fair Trade to you would potentially be seen as marketing exercise. People can be cynical if it’s driven by the company rather than by the accreditation organisation.”

Instead, Cadbury is preferring to create awareness in conjunction with the Fair Trade organisation and targeting those who believe in it and allowing them to spread the word.

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