Where is Cadbury?
Kraft returns for round two in the Cadbury takeover bid, defending its offer of $16.7 billion by slamming Cadbury’s business prospects. According to Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld, Cadbury will have “limited opportunities” to create value on its own. Cadbury is the laggard in the class; he’s done his best, poor thing, but now its time to turn it all over to the professionals.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Cadbury’s workers seem to be rooting for Kraft. The Cadbury factory in Keynsham, England, is slated to be closed and its jobs moved to Poland. Seems Cadbury does have some ideas for “creating value,” or at least increasing profitability (is that the same thing?) The workers believe that Kraft will somehow view the historic factory more sentimentally, and keep Cadbury chocolate in England where it belongs.
The factory in Keynsham dates to 1919; until now, Cadbury chocolate has been English chocolate, made in England. But globalization is making such “local” manufacture increasingly obsolete. U.S.-born CEO Todd Stitzer hatched the plan to close the factory back in 2007 as part of a larger market strategy. So an American is in charge of English chocolate manufacture to be moved to Poland. Where is Cadbury, anyway?
Chocolate for eating, like the chocolate bars at the heart of Cadbury, Hershey and the rest, can be formulated to many kinds of tastes. When candy was local, national chocolates were made to conform to national tastes and supplies. British preferred additional sweetness; American (Hershey’s) chocolate had a peculiar sour milky taste; the Swiss perfected a smooth balance of flavors. And Polish chocolate? Alas, the aftermath of the cold war seems to have produced a waxy, flavorless product.
Kraft promises “efficiencies,” and added value, from consolidating their existing candy lines with Cadbury. When a global powerhouse buys an English chocolate factory and moves its production to Poland to make candy that will be sold everywhere in the world, what will that taste like?
More: Wall Street Journal, “Factory Town Roots for Kraft in Candy Fight” Sept. 9, 2009