December 9, 2023

Do you remember the days when chocolatiers who made craft chocolate believed that mass-produced chocolate wasn’t their main competition? The good old days.

“The person that buys mass-produced chocolate is not the same person that would buy craft chocolate,” Many experts claimed. In 2022, this couldn’t be more far from the reality. It’s not just because buying mass-produced chocolate over craft chocolate might result from a lack of knowledge (instead of a lack of money) but because mass-produced chocolate now speaks the same language as craft chocolate, narrowing the perception gap between them.

This devious marketing tactic could jeopardize the entire market for craft beans to bars.

What makes mass-produced chocolate different from chocolate made by hand?

When we speak of mass-produced chocolate, it refers to chocolate that’s:

The result is standardized characteristics that do not alter over time.

When we speak of chocolate made from craft, we refer to chocolate that’s:

The result is unique characteristics that vary with each batch.

The two kinds of chocolate are located at opposite ends of the market regarding quality and business procedures.

Mass-produced chocolate is produced by automated factories and is produced in large quantities; it is distributed worldwide.

While mass-produced chocolate is not always transparent about the origin of its raw ingredients, Craft chocolate is fine and makes traceability a key part of its unique selling point. Craft chocolate allows the flavors of premium cacao to shine through. However, mass-produced chocolate is likely to contain a lot of vanilla, sugar, and milk instead. While you can witness the workers working tirelessly behind chocolate made by craft every day, mass-produced chocolate is a solitary product that, at the very least, can present multimillionaire CEOs.

Why would mass-produced chocolate use the hand-crafted chocolate language?

Modern consumers demand that companies be accountable for their conduct. They expect ethical products that respect the environment and the employees committed to their creation. Transparency, authenticity, and trustworthiness are the types of experiences that companies are now trying to instill in their customers to get their money’s worth. But the mass-produced chocolate is suffering from a lack of these.

The list goes on and on. From the child labor scandals from child labor scandals to greenwashing allegations, conscious consumers are losing trust in large chocolate firms. However, mass-produced chocolate producers opt for a quicker and simpler solution instead of changing their practices and products to improve their products. They are replicating their trusted counterparts, that is craft chocolate.

Mass-produced chocolate is copying craft chocolate language

Despite having a substantial marketing plan, the ready-made chocolate manufacturers have been keeping a check on the progress of the craft chocolate market over the last ten years and have taken advantage of their distinct language.

Terms that were exclusive to the industry of craft chocolate, such as Bean-to-Bar, Single Origin, Tasting Notes, and Cacao Origins, can be displayed on packaging for some of the largest chocolate producers.

Many chocolate bars sold at supermarkets now feature exotic names such as Ecuador, Ghana, or Indonesia. Others include fancy-sounding flavor profile descriptions. Others assert they are “artisanal” (while being manufactured with the biggest machines in the marketplace).

Naturally, using the same terms for two different products can cause confusion among consumers. Before tasting, an average chocolate fan cannot discern any difference between the two types of chocolate anymore.

Here are a few examples of mass-produced chocolates speaking the language of chocolate made by hand.

the BEAN-TO-BAR the mania of BEAN-TO-BAR

“Bean-to-Bar” and “Bean-to-Bar” were first used within the chocolate craft community. It referred to the experts who made chocolate from scratch, starting with raw cacao beans and refining them to create the final chocolate bars.

We all know that chocolate is created from cacao beans in their raw form; this was a badge of honor specifically for artisanal chocolatiers and their efforts to preserve the flavor of the base material. But, as it gained popularity, other big companies began using the word “bean-to-bar” to identify their chocolates, even though they are far away from the quality of craftsmanship portrayed within this Bean-to-Bar initial meaning.

One instance is the 92 percent Dark Chocolate bar by Ghirardelli.

The 92 percent dark chocolate bar from GHIRARDELLI has changed since the “From Bean To Bar” phrase was included.

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is an American confectioner owned by Swiss confectioner Lindt & Sprungli. Their reported total revenues for 2020 was $575,000,000, placing them in the category of mass-produced chocolate. However, they included an additional “From Bean To Bar” claim to their 92 percent Dark Chocolate bars without changing the other ingredients. All the components are identical: non-sweetened cocoa butter, cocoa butter, sugar vanilla extract, milk fat natural flavor, and soy lecithin.

There is nothing new concerning the product other than introducing this fashionable word (and how this 92% INTENSE DARK COCOA is legal to include milk fat; only God knows).

On the opposite side of the planet, Japanese giant Meiji decided to launch a whole collection known as Bean-to-Bar in 2017. It is still in stock until today.

From the attractive package to the distinctive molds designed to give specific mouthfeels, these bars were well-loved and often won awards in world-class competitions. However, even in this instance, Meiji is a holding company with an annual revenue of $9 billion. This is the term “craft-chocolate packaging,” which was created to refer to small artisanal companies.

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