Americans and Europeans have always maintained a bit of a sibling rivalry over which continent is superior. They invented democracy, but we invented hip-hop, so basically it’s a tossup – especially since neither of those things are as good as they used to be. However, according to a recent report, Europeans have a serious statistical edge on the US in one sweet category: “ethical label” chocolate sales. Of course they do: Those Europeans are a bunch of snobs!
According to market research company Euromonitor International, “ethical labels” can include a wide array of certifications and initiatives, everything from responsible forestry to religious labels to vegan-friendly designations. With boxed chocolate sales peaking right before Christmas, Euromonitor looked at the “ethical label” sales of these products. “In Germany, for example, retail sales of boxed chocolates bearing at least one ethical label reached US$1.4 billion, and US$1.3 billion in the UK, in 2015,” the site wrote. But as Food Navigator USA pointed out, comparatively, “the only ethical label with sales large enough to track in the US in the same category was Kosher, which reached $350m in 2015.” The obvious conclusion: “Boxed assortments with at least one ethical labelling are definitely underdeveloped in the USA compared to other countries,” said Ewa Hudson, head of health and wellness research at Euromonitor International.
So why aren’t American brands into pushing more “ethical” boxed chocolates? The reason may be simple economics: “Thus far, there is no conclusive data to show that corporate engagement in sustainable agriculture practice and participation in programmes to care for the planet help generate sales of boxed chocolates,” wrote Euromonitor. It actually makes sense: You may reach for organic apples or free-range eggs, but when’s the last time you flipped over a Christmas-themed chocolate box to see what sustainability initiatives the brand supported? You just assume the elves who made it are treated fairly and that everything is on the up and up in the North Pole.
But in actuality, shouldn’t we be more concerned with ethical food during the holiday season – making the world a better place and all that jazz? Euromonitor suggests that ethical label boxed chocolate sales will continue to trend upward, even if the consumers aren’t fully invested in the idea yet. “Christmas is not only about indulgence and a restful holiday period,” the research company writes. “International brand owners are not waiting until every single chocolate lover starts to fully appreciate the resources they spend on sustainable sourcing; they are making extensive efforts to run their initiatives, and these efforts in sustainable sourcing should be celebrated and applauded.”
Exactly, eating all that holiday chocolate is going to make you feel guilty regardless. Eating ethically-produced chocolate can probably cut that guilt by just a little bit.