The price of Cocoa – principle ingredient in Chocolate – has soared in the past year or so, due to shortages caused by a crop blight in Central America, where most of our Cocoa is grown. Now, confectionery makers are resorting to dirty tricks to get you to keep buying ‘Chocolate’ bars and candies…
Chocolatiers are using new tricks to keep their costs down so their dedicated
chocoholic fans can continue to afford to indulge in their passion.
One way is to pump bars full of Fruit, Nuts and Cereals.
I recently caught a post on Yahoo! talking about why some Chocolate bars cost so much more than others. The main point in this exposé is that some chocolate bars contain pure, high-cocoa content chocolate while others are composed of lower-cocoa content chocolate and, in some cases, fillers. Milk Chocolate, for example, contains added Fats and Milk Solids. Cocoa content in commonly-available bars varies from 40 per cent to 80 per cent, and prices vary accordingly. In addition, some of the most expensive ’boutique’ Chocolate Bars also use ‘only organic’ Cocoa, which commands a premium price. Add to that the ‘Fair Trade’ premium that some high-end chocolatiers pay their growers so they can advertise that their business practices and products are socially responsible. The end result is a price spread at retail of up to $10 for Chocolate bars of the same weight.
But there’s more…
I’ve noticed lately, at the supermarket, that many ‘deluxe’ and ‘oversize’ Chocolate Bars – some house branded for the specific retailer – are not only lower-grade Chocolate than the ’boutique’ bars; they’re also substantially diluted with Fruit, Nuts, Cereal and/or other crispy nuggets. It used to be that Chocolate bars and other confections which featured the above additives were considered ‘premium’ products because the nuts, fruits and cereals were more expensive than the Chocolate, itself. Now, it’s the Chocolate that costs more and adding the other goodies keeps the overall cost of a bar of any given size down…
Here’s a good example: At my supermarket a week or so ago, they featured ‘deluxe’, giant Chocolate Bars at point of sale, as impulse-purchase teasers. They were ‘on sale’ for 2 for $10., or $5 apiece. I’d seen them on prominent display over the year-end holidays at 50 per cent more, or even higher prices. I assumed they were clearing these Bars because they didn’t sell over the holidays at the higher price. Chocolate Bars and boxed Chocolate confections don’t stay fresh forever. Can’t just store them away for Valentine’s day – although some high-volume Chocolate retailers do just that, hoping that a cool, dry place will save the product from degradation.
There’s the rub: None of these ‘discount’ bars was pure chocolate. All were substantially diluted with Fruit and or Nuts and or ‘Cookies and Creme’ fragments. There were solid Chocolate Bars in the same product line, but they weren’t on sale.
The moral to the story is, beware a bargain that looks too good to be true. It probably is.
~ Maggie J.