Chocolate Retailing

Chocolate can be found in almost every store depending where you are. If you’re going to Target in search of some pants, chances are that there will be chocolate products available at the checkout line.One can learn many things from the kind of chocolate selection they have in a local store. You can learn about types of chocolate that is being used, ethical concerns, price point, and who the intended audience is.

Depending where someone is from, they can have a limited amount of exposure and knowledge about what is in food (like certain chemicals and additives) and what is good quality. Different stores sell different products that target a certain audience. Some chocolate companies do the same and only sell their products to companies who are their ideal client in revenue.  

I grew up in a low income household in a low income community that was highly populated by immigrants. Despite the problems my hometown had, Chelsea, MA is a small and efficient city where stores were so close by that we didn’t have to travel to another city to get our food, clothes, and other supplies.  I grew up with a convenient store just down the street from my mom’s apartment, a CVS just 2 blocks away, and a DeMoulas Market Basket a 5 minute drive away.

All of these locations had very similar things when it came down to selling chocolate. I would see candies like a Hershey bar by the Hershey Company, M&M’s candy by the Mars company, and a Butterfinger by Nestle. What these candies have in common is that they are low in cost which makes them more affordable than others. I have learned that the chocolate sweets I grew up eating don’t actually contain a lot of chocolate. What I did like was sugar. Products like a Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar contains approximately 10% of true cacao (Chocolate by the numbers). The first ingredient listed on the back of a Hershey’s bar is sugar (Mikes Candy Bar Page – Hershey Bar).

hershey0612.jpg
Figure 1. Hershey’s Candy Wrapper with Ingredients Listed

Stores like CVS don’t sell a wide variety of chocolate. There can be different kinds like Crunch bar, Kit Kat, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Twix, etc…, but the chocolate is still produced by big manufacturers. The manufacturers include Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and Kraft. Most of these candy bars sells for about $1-2. When breaking down the list of ingredients, it is not a surprise that these chocolate bars can be bought at a low price. With a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, there is more peanut butter than chocolate. With the candy the has these cheap (but delicious) fillings, It’s no surprise that the product can be at a really low cost because not much cacao is actually being used in the product.

IMG_0429.JPG
Figure 2. Picture I took of the chocolate selection at CVS.

Aside from most of the chocolates being from these big manufacturers, CVS do have a very small selection of premium chocolates. There are chocolates that are produced by Lindt chocolatier and Ghirardelli chocolates. Growing up to me these were the “expensive” chocolate’s as they contained richer ingredients like a high percentage of cacao, and  very bitter to my young taste buds due to the low amount of sugar in the products.  In comparison with the ingredients in the Hershey’s bar, the Lindt chocolate bar  is better in quality and does not use a lot of ingredients that I have trouble pronouncing. Also to mention that the first ingredient listed in a Lindt chocolate bar is chocolate.  The label is also give away since it does say the amount of cacao that is in the bar,which is 70%. A product of this kind f quality is often hard to sell. These bars sell for about $4 each. When CVS cannot sell them all, they go on    sale.

 

IMG_0427.JPG
Figure 3. Lindt Chocolate, Front

 

IMG_0428.JPG

IMG_0426.JPG
Figure 5. Lindt Chocolate on Sale at CVS

Personally, I like that CVS has a very small section of Premium chocolates. It does give people the opportunity to try darker chocolate. They probably won’t like it because they are use to chocolates that contain a high amount of sugar. There is a spectrum from when people mention that they love chocolate. Is it really the taste of the cacao that they enjoy or is it the taste of the sugar in the bar (The Huffington Post).

People may prefer the sugary taste of chocolate because it is what they have been able to afford. Some people may view a chocolate bar which is worth over $4 as too expensive when they can get a cheaper bar for half the price. The battle can by quantity over quality.  When people can’t afford a certain product, a barrier is placed that eliminates them from the targeted audience.

Personally, I like that CVS has a very small section of Premium chocolates. It does give people the opportunity to try darker chocolate. They probably won’t like it because they are use to chocolates that contain a high amount of sugar. There is a spectrum from when people mention that they love chocolate. Is it really the taste of the cacao that they enjoy or is it the taste of the sugar in the bar (The Huffington Post).

People may prefer the sugary taste of chocolate because it is what they have been able to afford. Some people may view a chocolate bar which is worth over $4 as too expensive when they can get a cheaper bar for half the price. The battle can by quantity over quality.  When people can’t afford a certain product, a barrier is placed that eliminates them from the targeted audience.

Another supermarket that does create create barriers which limits their targeted audience is Whole Foods. Whole Foods is known to have organic and sustainable food.The food is presented to be in higher quality and thus being higher in prices. The running joke that most people say is Whole Paycheck (Urban Dictionary) instead of Whole Foods, because the cost of food from their is worth almost an entire paycheck.

When I visited their chocolate selection, I could not find a chocolate product that was manufactured by Hershey’s, Mars, or Nestle. Instead there were brands that I did not recognize and some that I was a little  familiar within the past few year due to furthering my exposure as I began to frequently travel to Cambridge and Boston for school and work.

IMG_1620_zps0e73ec50.jpg
Figure 6. Chocolates from Whole Foods

 

 

Going into Whole Foods, and even now, I sometimes feel out of place because I grew up going to a supermarket that was always busy and full and the prices were cheap. It’s also because I see lack of diversity when I go in. The people shopping at whole foods is usually white people and you can tell that they probably earn a high salary. Whole Foods seems target this specific audience as they are the one who can afford their products.

I sometimes think that it is ridiculous to pay $6 for a chocolate bar, (as seens as above). I constantly remind myself that the chocolate is at a fair price because of its quality. Having learned what the process is for making chocolate, how it comes from bean to bar, and understanding the true labour that comes with it, I have no problem with spending $6 on a chocolate bar because I know I am getting quality chocolate and with organizations like Fair Trade, I know that farmers and workers are getting their fair share.

Now, there are other places to purchase chocolate that does not have to come from a chain retail store. There are independent stores that specialize in gourmet foods. In Harvard Square there is a gourmet shoppe called Cardullo’s. Cardullo’s has been around since 1950. They sell a variety of gourmet goods including wine, cheeses, teas, and chocolates.

IMG_0435.JPG
Figure 7. Chocolates from Cardullo’s

Cardullo’s sells a lot of chocolate, kinds that I cannot find in Whole Foods. They are truly gourmet and rich in flavour. At my trip to this story I purchase 2 chocolate bars. The first one was an Earl Grey tea infused chocolate by the brand Dolfin. The back of the wrapping was difficult to photograph but the first ingredient on this bar was cacao mass, sugar, cacao butter, and Earl Grey tea at 2,%.

The other bar of chocolate that I purchased was by Taza. Taza Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almond. On the front label it say 80% dark stone ground chocolate. On the back of the bar, the ingredients listed are Organic cacao beans, organic sugar cane, organic almonds, organic cacao butter, organic vanilla beans, and sea salt. I love that everything is organic and that I know what these ingredients are and how to pronounce them.

Each bar was about $8 and they were delicious. I never had tea infused chocolate and now if I want more I know the only place nearest me to purchase it is at Cardullo’s. Taza chocolates can be found in Whole Foods but I do not recall seeing this specific kind with sea salt and almonds. Cardullo’s is a wonderful shop with so many variations of chocolate from different companies to try, but I would need to place a budget to try all of these chocolates.

The chocolates sold here says that they care where the cacao is grown, how it is being processed, and that the laborers are being paid appropriately, and that child labor is not occurring. The cost does out weigh the taste. Know what’s in the chocolate bar, and that the ingredients are organic, this counts more as quality than quantity.

IMG_0445.JPG
Figure 8. Chocolate from Cardullo’s, Dolfin
IMG_0451.JPG
Figure 9. Chocolate from Cardullo’s, Taza front label
IMG_0453.JPG
Figure 9. Chocolate from Cardullo’s, Taza back label

For retail shops to target an audience, they have to see demographically where the need is for their store and who can afford the products. The maps below show the locations comparisons/difference of CVS, Whole Foods, and gourmet shops like Cardullo’s, near Chelsea, MA.

Since my hometown is in Chelsea, MA, I decided to show exactly what is accessible to the people from my community. For CVS or other convenient stores, there are multiple in the area. These stores can be easily accessed by walking, biking, and even public transportation.

Conveinent Store.PNG
Figure 10. Convenience stores in Chelsea, MA

From experience i do know that there are more small convenience stores in Chelsea than the ones listed.

CVS Chelsea.PNG
Figure 11. CVS in Chelsea, MA
Whole Foods.PNG
Figure 12. Whole Foods Market near Chelsea, MA

The map on top show the closest Whole Foods near Chelsea.  The closest one is in one of Boston’s neighborhoods,  Charlestown. Getting there would require a car and going through tolls. Whole foods seem to exist areas that are not of low income communities. I am hoping that this will change for good. I think organic food should be accessible to everyone, not be so far away from a community. Whole foods has a store in one of the poorest communities of Chicago called Englwood. An article form the Washington Post talk about the effects of a wholefoods being in a community where not a lot of people can afford their products, but they do try to make it lower. The article mentioned that “the company has tried to set its price points relative to other supermarkets in the city, not relative to its own stores outside of it”. (Washington Post) The goal is to get everyone to eat healthier.

gourmet shops.PNG
Figure 13. Gourmet Shops (like Cardullo’s) near Chelsea, MA

This map shows the closest gourmet shops near Chelsea. As you may see, they lie just outside the city over bridges. If one owns a car, then it is not too much of an ordeal to go to the city to visit one of these gourmet shops. But man other rely on public transportation to travel into the city. When I traveled from Chelsea to Cambridge, it would usually take about one hour to get there, and one hour to head back. It’s not that people don’t want enjoy and eat better, organic food. There are many factors that come into play that don’t make it possible. Affordability, distance, availability are a few to name.

Chocolate products can be found in almost any store. You can easily find chocolate that is popular from the Hershey’s company, Mars company, and the Nestle company. These can be found in supermarkets, convenient stores, and at CVS. Or you may find brands that are more wholesome like Organic 365, Whole Foods brand, and Equal Exchange at a gourmet food stores, at Whole Foods Markets, and Trader Joe’s.

The type of chocolate that you can find in stores do say a lot about what is available to the community and how much they can know about these chocolates. The sophisticated wrapping can have a small history of the company and how the process their chocolate from bean to bar. This occurs more with chocolates that are not part of the large companies.

There are so many things you learn from the chocolate selection in a store. There are many factors

The selection of chocolate that is available in stores can say a lot. It can be a signal of who is who is the targeted audiences for certain brands of chocolate. It can say how you live you lifestyle by choosing to eat healthy and organic foods. You can see who is potentially gaining profit from selling the candy.

So, where do you buy your chocolate ?

 

Bibliography:

Badger, Emily. “Why Whole Foods Is Moving into One of the Poorest Neighborhoods in Chicago.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 May 2016.

Lfrey. “Whole Paycheck.” Urban Dictionary. 26 Apr. 2006. Web. 3 May 2016.

Maps, Google Maps. Web. 6 May 2016.

“Mike’s Candy Bar Page – Hershey Bar.” Mike’s Candy Bar Page – Hershey Bar. June 2012. Web. 01 May 2016.

Nixon, Cherie. “Why Does Dark Chocolate Taste So Nasty?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 3 May 2016.

“Whole Foods Market History.” Whole Foods Market. Web. 3 May 2016.
Wolke, Robert L. “Chocolate by The Numbers.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 9 June 2004. Web. 01 May 2016. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24276-2004Jun8.html>.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s