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Chocolate Prices, Sales Jump Following Grocer's Commitment

Chocolate bar

In April, British grocer Waitrose added a label to nine of its private-label chocolate bars showing its commitment to paying cocoa farmers more. In the week after launch, sales shot up 43 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The initiative found success despite minimal advertising and a modest price increase from £2 British pounds (bout $2.55) to £2.20 (about $2.80).

It can sometimes be hard to see a return on investments in the supply chain, said Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability at John Lewis Partnership, which runs the Waitrose chain. "But in this one, we have seen that the customers are more inclined to buy the chocolate because it has ethical standards."

The added label read, "Tony’s Open Chain: Together, we’ll end exploitation in cocoa." The effort is an industry-led initiative started by Tony’s Chocolonely to end child labor and slavery in cocoa farming.

While some chocolate companies are still working to keep prices as low, others have begun to see sustainability as a 'differentiator,' explained supply chain expert at Action Sustainability, Helen Carter.

"There are definitely customers that are now prepared to pay a premium for chocolate to make sure that it’s good quality and that it’s fair,” she said. "Those are the companies that we’re starting to see grow more and more.” Full Story (Subscription required)