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Hero to zero - Cadbury take large bite out of brand

Whittaker's chocolate factory in Porirua.

Cadbury could expect a public backlash following confirmation its Dunedin factory will close next year.

American food giant Mondelez International broke the news to the factory's 350 staff on Thursday morning.

Dr David Bishop, from the University of Otago business school, worked for the company between 1973 and 1986 and said he wasn't surprised by the news.

One of seveal security guards at Cadbury factory on the day it was announced it would close.

When Cadbury was taken over by Kraft Foods (now Mondelez) in 2010, the company moved quickly to close a British factory and shifted production to Poland.

READ MORE: Cadbury factory set to close

"So am surprised that it took seven years to close Dunedin."


Cadbury sponsor the annual Jaffa Race in Dunedin

The company could expect a consumer backlash initially, but," in the long run, people seem to keep buying the products that they like".

However that backlash might be stronger in New Zealand given how badly the chocolate maker had operated over the last ten years.

The use of palm oil, used as a substitute for cocoa butter, hurt the brand, which dropped the ingredient in 2009 due to public pressure.

Dunedin's Cadbury factory is to be shut, joining others all across the developed world as Mondelez shifts production to low-wage countries.

Up until then the Cadbury brand had been one of the most trusted in New Zealand, Dr Bishop said.

It was Kiwis' most trusted brand for the seventh year in a row in the Reader's Digest survey, up until the palm oil scandal broke.

The brand quickly dropped out of the top 30 most trusted brands in the country, and "now this, what are they thinking?"

The confirmation the company would shut its Dunedin factory had caused damage to the brand, but the real damage had been inflicted by rival chocolate maker; Whittaker's.

"​Whittaker's seem to have taken over the premium position in the New Zealand chocolate market."

"As a relatively small locally owned company they are now producing high quality, world class, chocolate and look to have taken Cadbury's position in New Zealand.

"While Cadbury seems to have been imploding  Whittaker's have done extremely well by concentrating on quality products and their New Zealand identity."

He questioned why Cadbury would close the Dunedin factory, yet plan to keep Cadbury World.

"Why have a tourist attraction next to a closed down factory in Dunedin?"





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