A tiny mail-order company in England is exploding after British chocolate was banned from the US
When John Barton-Ward, the director of a small chocolate distributor in Liverpool, heard about Hershey's deal to block British-made Cadbury chocolate from entering the United States, he panicked.
Jolly Goods delivers custom chocolate gift boxes to people outside the UK. The US is one of its biggest markets.
"Our initial reaction was shock and worry," the 26-year-old told Business Insider UK. "We then decided to research into the agreement and realised that there was a big opportunity."
Jolly Goods' business model doesn't conflict with the ban because it delivers directly to consumers. Hershey's gripe is with companies that import Cadbury chocolate products intended for retail sale in the US.
"The main focus for the agreement was that Herhsey wanted to avoid any confusion from customers seeing and experiencing British-made Cadbury," Barton-Ward notes.
The recent settlement, which calls for New Jersey-based firm Let's Buy British Imports to stop importing Cadbury products from overseas, is part of Hershey's war to protect its "trademark and trade dress licensing." The licensing refers to a deal made nearly three decades ago.
In 1988, Cadbury, based in Birmingham, England, sold Hershey the rights to manufacture and sell Cadbury chocolate products in the US.
AP Photo/Simon Dawson
The American confectionery giant began rolling out Dairy Milk bars, Creme Eggs, and Mini Eggs wrapped up in Cadbury's signature purple packaging, but using different recipes.
According to a 2007 New York Times article, Cadbury ships a special mix of mashed dried milk, chocolate, and cocoa butter to Hershey's factories in Pennsylvania. Hershey decides the final processing and blending from there.
The differences are easy to spot: the US version contains more sugar whereas the UK version has a higher fat and cocoa content. The result is that American chocolate is often criticised for being too sweet, while British chocolate is praised for its rich and creamy texture.
In the wake of the ban, these flavour differences have become a real source of stress among Americans and British expats whose taste buds are true to the original Cadbury - and other British chocolate - recipes.
Let's Buy British Imports has also been forced to stop importing Nestlé-made Kit Kat bars, Toffee Crisps, and Yorkie chocolate bars because the packaging looks very similar to Hersey-produced Kit Kat bars, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and York Peppermint Patties.
As consumers lashed out on Twitter and Facebook against the American confectionery giant, Jolly Goods swooped in to calm the outrage.
"By using social media we were able to respond almost immediately to people affected by the changes. Our focus was to ultimately reassure them that Jolly Goods was the company that could help," Barton-Ward said.
Jolly Good's model is simple. You select a type of box online from a category list (examples include "Make Your Own," "British Classics," and of course, "Cadbury's") and then pay a set price for the size of the box (normal or large).
In an interview with The Telegraph, Barton-Ward said the Jolly Goods website averaged about 100 unique hits a day before the Hershey announcement. Since then, the company has seen traffic to its website surge by over 80%, resulting in the highest number of orders since the site was launched in May 2014, the director told BI UK.
Jolly Goods buys its chocolate from local wholesale sources and stores it in a temperature-controlled facility before boxing it up and shipping it to locations outside the UK.
"Before the news broke we received regular orders from Australia, Dubai, and New Zealand, but the US has leapfrogged all of these destinations," Barton-Ward said.
The original team of three, including fellow director Mike Anderson, is leaning on friends and family to help fill rocketing demand.
Jolly Goods now plans on introducing a subscription service, which will start from £9.99 for six British chocolate bars, including delivery to the US. "Each month the customer will have the option to either have the same box they received the month before or customise their box with the chocolate bars they want delivered to their door," Barton-Ward said.
Not surprisingly, Jolly Goods' most popular chocolate is the Cadbury Dairy Milk bar. But "all the other Cadbury products are selling really well at the moment," he said.
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