Food news of the day – Kraft buys up Cadbury

[image image_id=”2226″ align=”left”] If you live in the UK you will have encountered the news that Cadbury, the iconic British chocolate manufacturer, has been snapped up by the American ciggie company Philip Morris in the guise of their subsidiary company Kraft. The outgoing chairman of Cadbury has even pronounced that job losses in the UK are an ‘inevitability’ after this takeover is finalised. Bad news, eh?

The loss of jobs in the UK is certainly not good news, but as far as the takeover in general is concerned I am not sure we should be too bothered. There are a couple of pertinent blog posts (riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, alas) on “I don’t care who owns Cadbury” and “If you object to Kraft taking over Cadbury you better not use US goods”. These make it very clear that in a global economy this kind of takeover will happen all the time, and we should not demand protectionist laws to stop them from happening.

People who do want British industries to be protected from foreign companies buying them are thinking sloppily and have double standards. A vanishingly small number of people complain when British companies do well abroad and buy up their foreign competitors. Most of us would, quite rightly, complain if such advances by British companies in other countries were blocked by protectionist laws. This is why we have international trade laws, they (attempt) to allow a level playing field for all companies from all countries.

The odious Gordon Brown may say that the government is “determined” to ensure that Cadbury jobs are secure, but these things are not really in his domain to meddle with. If an international company wants to wind down its operations in a particular country no government could enact any legislation that would stop them from being able to do so. Gordon is just trotting out populist rubbish in the crazy hope that people might like him and his government a bit more.

Naturally the people working for Cadbury might be concerned about their jobs, but to decry the loss of a ‘Great British Institution’ is just small-minded and fails to see that such deals recognise the UK as a thriving and profitable economy which is good to be doing business in. I was quite surprised to read this blog post by a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate. He calls for outmoded protectionist laws to keep British things British. This seems an odd argument from a Conservative politician. I wonder how he would respond if the US blocked BP from opening more petrol stations there because they were a foreign-owned company. Free trade is what keeps both the world and local economies vibrant and ever expanding, we cannot retreat into our own little corner of the world and just hope everyone leaves us alone. If they did we would be broke.

As long as I can buy the occasional Wispa bar and the adverts remain amusing (sometimes lewdly suggestive, see below) I am not too bothered who owns Cadbury.

Cadbury's Flake advert

There are plenty more posts out in the blogosphere about the Cadbury takeover, some of which cite the specific qualities of Cadbury’s chocolate that they worry about being lost. Yes, I will buy the (very) occasional Cadbury’s chocolate product, but the Raedwald blog perfectly captures the synergy between the makers of Philadelphia and the manufacturer of Dairy Milk. However, he is wrong to suggest Charbonnel et Walker as purveyors of fine chocolate, Valrhona and Pierre Marcolini are far better.

  • ed tully

    Cadbury’s do not really make chocolate. They flavour milk and sugar with some brown stuff. They are the British Leyland of confectionery. If you make a crap product then of course you will be bought out by someone who can make crap cheaper. The only way to survive is to make things that are good. Britain is too expensive to compete on price.

  • Jonathan Sheppard

    One does apply for the spelling errors and grammar that is notup to standard. The joys of bloging via an iphone and not checking things.

  • David Strange

    We can forgive iPhone-induced spelling mistakes if the articles themselves are good enough; I liked the stuff on your site enough to link to them and I hope my readers went on and read your site.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  • David Strange

    Quite right, Edward, Cadbury’s chocolate is merely euphemistic chocolate. Cheap rubbish that can be produced as or more cheaply by anyone. People who fear the passing of the ‘Cadbury’s chocolate style’ probably need their olfactory centres to be re-programmed with a blunt instrument. The only chocolate that I’ve had which is worse is that vile Hershey’s filth, which includes paraffin as an ingredient (or at least it did last time I looked).

  • Peter

    Some might dispute the criteria by which you judge a product to be “crap”, Edward. As a business, as a marketing phenomenon (much of the angst about the takeover reflects the degree to which Cadbury’s has come to be seen by many as a part of the British way of life, like the Queen’s speech at Christmas), it has, from the marketer’s perspective, been a tremendous product. Even David admits he quite likes it.