Tag Archives: Selection

Just What is Premium Chocolate?

When we hear the word premium it conjures up thoughts of luxury, exceptional quality, hand crafted, expensive…I hate to burst your bubble, but some of the fancy premium chocolate you might’ve enjoyed couldn’t be farther from that definition. Well, actually, it probably was expensive. The lack of regulation of “premium” chocolate allows many brands to vigorously market their chocolate products as high end and grab a piece of the burgeoning market. Yet, this lack of definition and regulation is dangerous because consumers are tricked into buying chocolate with false promises that benefit the chocolate company, but not the cocoa farmers, middlemen, or consumers. Premium is then defined by the packaging, presentation and stores, but not the ingredients or labor.

“Premium chocolate” accounted for over 14% of chocolate sales in the United States in 2011 and was projected to expand 10% annually (Williams and Eber 167). However, the problem is there’s no real standard or definition for premium chocolate. One offered definition is, “chocolate that sells for greater than $8.00 a pound” and has “better quality ingredients, execution, packaging” and more (Williams and Eber 168). Yet, fine chocolate ranges anywhere from $24.00 to $100.00 a pound (Williams and Eber 169).

To find out more about premium chocolate around Harvard Square, I visited two stores: CVS and Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe.

CVS

Consumer Value Stores (CVS), created in 1963 by two brothers Stanley and Sidney Goldstein, is a national chain of one stop shop stores for everyone (CVS). Walking into the CVS candy aisle is an attack on your eyes. Candy with big flashy packaging line the shelves from the Big five candy companies: Mars, Nestle, Cadbury, Hershey and Ferrero (Allen 21).With their displays, CVS capitalizes on the fact that approximately 70% of chocolate is consumed on impulse (Allen 31). Therefore, loud packaging is key to attract a consumer’s wandering eye. Red or orange wrappers (Reese’s Peanut butter cups, M & M’s, Kit Kats, Snickers, Crunch bars) are prominent because studies have proven that people’s associations with these colors make one hungry (Harrington). In addition to the packaging, placement inside a store is very important. Only 22% of shoppers will ever venture down the candy aisle, so stores need to be creative about attracting attention to chocolate (Allen 32). To address this issue, CVS lines their check-out counter with chocolate bars to entice consumers to grab one for a quick snack. In addition, lots of the chocolates in CVS are on sale. I’ve visited multiple times and can always find bright yellow sale tags on a variety of chocolates. The sales often encourage one to buy multiple chocolates such as 3 for $5.00 or 2 for $6.00. The cheapest chocolate I could find were singular Hershey bars for .88 cents and the most expensive bar were the Chuao bars, at $5.29. However, even these were on sale, buy one get the second half off. The majority of their chocolates (individual bars or bags) were under $3.00. The placement of their chocolate, available brands, and price range, demonstrate that CVS targets consumers who are in a hurry, don’t want to spend much on chocolate, or didn’t intend to buy chocolate until enticed on the way out.

CVS also sells premium chocolate on a separate stand that contrasts nicely with the regular candy aisle. It’s featured on the end of the candy aisle facing sodas and other refrigerated items. The end of an aisle is a prime spot as it gets more foot traffic and attention (Clifford). The stand is made of dark wood (fake), which appears more refined than the other shelves and is filled with Lindt, Ghiradelli, Ferrero Rocher, Ritter, Raffaelo, Chuao and Endangered Species chocolates. However, these brands are misleading because many of these companies are owned by the big five and when one thinks premium, Hershey’s doesn’t come to mind. For example, Lindt owns Ghiradelli and even though it is not a big five chocolate company, Lindt generates over a half of Hershey’s net sales (Scully). In addition, Ritter is distributed in over 100 countries and Fererro owns Raffaelo (Ferrero, Ritter). The only slightly distinct chocolates are the Chuao and the Endangered Species bars. Chuao is a fairly new Venezuelan brand, created in 2002. It is available in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Barbuda in stores such as CVS, Target, Whole Foods, Bed Bath and Beyond, and the Omni and W hotels (Chuao). Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of their profits to support wildlife organizations (Endangered Species). This brand is sold at Amazon, CVS, Target and more. Nevertheless, premium chocolate for CVS is still mostly mass produced chocolate from the big five companies or other large companies.

Compared to CVS’ regular chocolate, premium chocolate’s packaging was less flashy and featured gold and shiny touches and script lettering. The packaging used thicker paper or plastic and contained the words: excellence, collection, luscious, and classic to convey to the customer that these bars are distinct and higher quality. The bars also come in a variety of different flavors like fruit, caramel, honey, mint, salt and hazelnut. This example of the hybridization of chocolate or blending of two cultures was distinct from the cheaper chocolate bars that mainly featured peanut butter fillings (Coe and Coe 113). Descriptions on the back of the bar also play into the link between chocolate and sex which traces back the widespread belief that chocolate was an aphrodisiac (Coe and Coe 171). With descriptions such as, “irresistible smooth filling”, “gently caressing all your senses”, and “caramelized honey mingle with deep dark chocolate, like secret lovers meeting on a warm summer night”, these bars capitalize on how women should “project their heterosexual yearnings and fantasies onto chocolate consumption” (Robertson 35). They detail the experience you will have with their chocolate and with the exception of the Endangered Species and Chuao bars, they do not make promises about the source of their cacao or cocoa production. The Chuao bar has an ethically sourced label and the Endangered Species bar has Fair Trade and Organic labels. From CVS’ selection, premium chocolate seems to be chocolate with gold packaging that sells an experience, is slightly more expensive than their regular selection, and is mass manufactured.

Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe

Cardullo’s opened in 1950 and is a specialty food store in Harvard Square. A quick trip to their website shows pages of gourmet foods, gifts, and most importantly: Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate. These three stimulants have gone hand in hand since the colonial era (Mintz 113). Inside the store, there is a stand dedicated to Lake Champlain Chocolates and then a wall of chocolate at the edge of the store near the cashiers. At first glance, bright packaging led me to the Big Five products, except they were European brands: Aero, Maltesers, Flake, and Milka. Next, there were the more specialized bars. The packaging was less flashy overall and they featured muted tones such as a variety of pastels and browns. They also had many more fair trade, organic, and ethically grown stamps than the selection in CVS. However, many of these chocolate labels are misleading. For example, the goal of Fair Trade is to help “cocoa farmers, traders, and chocolate manufacturers participate in long-term, stable relationships that support a dependable living for farmers and their families” (Fair Trade 4). Yet, The Fair Trade Scandal, sheds light on the realities of this label. In fact, Fair Trade unequally distributes its profits and is mostly beneficial to the wealthiest countries (Sylla 205). In addition, Maricel Presilla warns in The New Taste of Chocolate, that organic of Fair Trade cacao can be “mediocre or worse in quality” (133). This is not to say that all of the labels are not producing positive results, but that labels should be noted with caution.

At first glance, I was wowed. There was a large selection of single origin bars and phrases such as “stone ground”, “craft”, and “art of blending”. Some of the brands included, Scharffen berger, Neuhaus, Chocolove and Lake Champlain. I assumed that these brands were artisanal brands that were sold in small batches, but to my disappointment, these brands were available across the U.S and in multiple countries. Their upscale looking appearance led me astray. Scharffen Berger chocolate is owned by Hershey (Lubow)! Once America’s first bean to bar manufacturer that originated cocoa content labeling, Hershey has shut down their artisan factory in California and moved it to Illinois (Scharffen Berger). Fans of the chocolate have noticed a considerable drop in the quality of the chocolate since the factory switch (Lubow). Yet, as Rachel Lauden notes, mass produced and industrialized food does not deserve the negative attention we direct toward it. For example, “the ethnic foods we seek out when we travel are being preserved, indeed often created, by a hotel and restaurant industry determined to cater to our dream of India or Indonesia, Turkey, Hawaii, or Mexico.” Perhaps for chocolate, it is important to recognize how crucial technology such as the conche or refrigerated transportation has been in creating the more refined candy we eat today (Goody 82). Quality, then is not necessarily tied to quantity.

Cardullo’s does sell bean to bar and single origin small batch chocolate. They carry Chequessett, Dolfin, Castronovo, Taza, Chocolat Bonnat and Farvarger. The most expensive bars were from Chocolat Bonnat at a whopping $17.00! A quick trip to their website revealed that these bars are from specific terroirs. I found a bar with beans from Trinite, an island in the Caribbean. These single origin bars are special because the soil, environment, and farming styles affect give their beans a unique taste (Presilla 126).

IMG_2151
Back of a Chocolat Bonnat Grand Crus Trinite bar in Cardullo’s

The more expensive bars only had cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar and possibly milk in them. I could count all of the ingredients on one hand, whereas in CVS, even in the premium chocolate section, bars had ten or more ingredients. The bars also featured more hybridized expensive flavors than the ones offered in CVS. For example, there are bars with ginger, orange peel, rose, coconut ash, cranberry pumpkin spice and chili. These ingredients were more exotic and inventive than the raspberry, salt, and peanut butter found in CVS.

Unlike CVS brands, most of the chocolate companies featured in Cardullo’s had pages on their websites dedicated to the environment, labor, conservation and the history of chocolate. Instead of catering to the mass market, it was clear that they wanted to demonstrate a knowledge of the cacao plant and chocolate making process. These brands also described the ingredients or process on the back of the bars in different ways. The wrappers stressed the ethical process and sustainability of their chocolate as well as quality ingredients. The descriptions were also bar specific and did not generalize company history like the CVS bars. They were also more transparent about the ingredients in their chocolate. For example, Milkboy featured Swiss milk, Castronovo describes the types of cacao (Criollo, Trinitario, and forastero), Chequessett labeled the origins or terroir, and nearly every bar listed the percent cocoa content. Cardullo’s chocolate appealed to the customer who would spend their time perusing the selection and carefully reading the back of each bar. The customer cared about the production and quality of chocolate. In contrast, the CVS customer would probably not know the difference between Criollo and Trinitario or how cacao origin or content affects taste.

Pictured: The difference between the backs of chocolate from Cardullo’s and CVS

 

From my two visits, I’ve found that marketing is key to selling “premium” chocolate. It seems to outrank ingredients, flavor or quality of cacao. For example, in the U.S, anything containing 15% cacao liquor can be labeled as chocolate (Food and Agriculture Organization). You could be eating 85% sugar and think that it’s great chocolate. Or, like me, you could be fooled by the packaging into thinking you’ve bought a white chocolate bunny, when it is in fact simply sugar and corn oil. Yet, if the packaging has flecks of gold and can convince you that it is premium, it is. Premium, as demonstrated by both CVS and Cardullo’s, seems to be relative to the chocolate selection you have. Both stores had chocolate from the big five companies which were the cheapest in both stores, so the more expensive brands seem more premium. The higher end chocolates are differentiated through packaging from the quality of the wrapper, the labels or commitments to organic, fair trade, or ethically sourced cacao, to the description of the creation of each bar. Perhaps, similar to the 15% rule, premium chocolate should have requirements that includes a standard for % cacao content, origin of cacao, or a promise for ethically sourced ingredients. Possibly, instead of a industry implemented standard, a chocolate guide or rating system, similar to Wine Spectator would be influential in determining premium chocolate.

Works Cited

Allen, Lawrence L., and Angel Cabrera. Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s Consumers. New York, American Management Association, 2010.

Chuao. “About.” Chuao Chocolatier, chuaochocolatier.com/about/. Accessed 7 May 2017.

Clifford, Stephanie. “Stuff Piled in the Aisle? It’s There to Get You to Spend More.” The New York Times [New York City], 7 Apr. 2011, Business sec., http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/08/business/08clutter.html. Accessed 5 May 2017.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed., London, Thames & Hudson, 2013.

CVS. “CVS History.” CVS Health, CVS, http://www.cvshealth.com/about/company-history. Accessed 4 May 2017.

Endangered Species Chocolate. “Chocolate Bar Promise.” Chocolate Bar, Endangered Species Chocolate, http://www.chocolatebar.com/?page_id=18.

Fair Trade. “Cocoa Impact Report.” Fair Trade, 2011, fairtradeusa.org/sites/default/files/Cocoa_Impact_Report.pdf. Accessed 7 May 2017.

Ferrero. “Brands: Raffaello.” Ferrero Corporate, Ferrero, http://www.ferrero.com/products/ferrero-pralines/raffaello. Accessed 6 May 2017.

Food and Agriculture Organization. “STANDARD FOR CHOCOLATE AND CHOCOLATE PRODUCTS.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, 2003, http://www.fao.org/input/download/standards/67/CXS_087e.pdf. Accessed 7 May 2017.

Goody, Jack. Cooking, Cuisine and Class: A Study in Comparative Sociology. Digital printing. ed., Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2000.

Harrington, Rebecca. “Here’s Why All Fast Food Signs Are Red.” Business Insider, 30 Sept. 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/why-are-fast-food-signs-red-2015-9. Accessed 3 May 2017.

Lubow, Arthur. “My Chocolate Meltdown.” The New York Times [New York], 21 Nov. 2009, Opinion sec., http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/opinion/22lubow.html. Accessed 7 May 2017.

Mintz, Sidney Wilfred. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York, Penguin Books, 1986.

Presilla, Maricel E. The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes. Berkeley [Calif.], Ten Speed Press, 2009.

Ritter Sport. “Family Business and Values.” Ritter Sport US, Ritter Sport, http://www.ritter-sport.de/en_US/Family-business-values/zahlen_fakten.html. Accessed 5 May 2017.

Robertson, Emma. Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History. Paperback ed., Manchester, UP, 2013.

Scharffen Berger. “Our History.” Scharffen Berger, Hershey, http://www.scharffenberger.com/our-story/history/. Accessed 4 May 2017.

Scully, Carla. “The Top 100 Candy Companies in the World in 2017.” Candy Industry, 27 Jan. 2017, http://www.candyindustry.com/2017-Global-Top-100-Part-4. Accessed 5 May 2017.

Sylla, Ndongo Samba. The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich. Athens, Ohio UP, 2014.

Williams, Pamela Sue, and Jim Eber. Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate. Vancouver, Wilmor Publishing, 2012.

Examining Community Preferences Through Supermarket Chocolate Aisles

Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, two of Boston’s twenty-three neighborhoods, have held historical significance since the seventeenth century and today serve as the home toBoston Neighborhoods more than 55,000 Bostonians (Boston Redevelopment Authority). There is a high level of racial and socioeconomic diversity within the two neighborhoods, and resultantly there are a wide variety of grocery stores and supermarkets that cater to many types of customers in the distinct surrounding communities. We can see examples of the neighborhoods’ socioeconomic and culture compositions by examining the dissimilar chocolate selections available in three major grocery stores that cater to parts of the community operating less than two miles away from each other, specifically Whole Foods Market in Jamaica Plain’s Hyde Square, Super Stop & Shop  in Jamaica Plain’s Jackson Square, and Tropical Foods in Roxbury’s Dudley Square.

Neighborhood Demographics and Store Locations

In Jamaica Plain, 25.3% of the population is Hispanic or Latinx (many of whom live in the Latin Quarter area near the Jackson Square MBTA station), and 13.4% of the population is Black or African American. 24% of the population was born outside of the United States, and roughly 18.6% of the population has a household income below the poverty line (Boston Redevelopment Authority). Within Jamaica Plain, however, there exist sub-neighborhoods with notably homogenous racialJP and Roxbury Stores composition (Kent). The population of Jamaica Plain that lives in the census tract containing the Latin Quarter and Super Stop & Shop (census tract 812) has a population that is (as the name “Latin Quarter” implies) 53% Hispanic and 29% Black. A large portion of that census tract is comprised of the Mildred C. Hailey apartments, a low-income public housing development. The Super Stop & Shop is located directly across the street from the edge of the Mildred C. Hailey complex.

The adjoining Jamaica Plain census tract (tract 1204), however, which abuts Jamaica Pond and contains Whole Foods Market, has a population that is 76% white (Bloch). The Hyde Square area is a district filled with small-businesses that appear to be thriving despite rising commercial and residential rents. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council has expressed concern over the gentrification of the area, noting that the Latinx and Hispanic community and culture that was once so central to Jamaica Plain is being pushed further and further away from the Hyde Square area towards Jackson Square (Ad-hoc Whole Foods Committee: Report to Full JPNC). As a result, although the Jamaica Plain Whole Foods Market and Super Stop & Shop are about half a mile apart, they are located in and serve disparate communities.

Within Roxbury the distribution of race and socioeconomic statuses is more even than within Jamaica Plain – there is not the same significant difference in racial composition from census tract to census tract (Kent). Throughout Roxbury, 27.5% of the population is Hispanic or Latinx and 51.8% of the population is Black or African American. Almost a quarter (23.6%) of the population was born outside of the United States, and roughly 36.1% of the population has a household income below the poverty line (Boston Redevelopment Authority). Graphical representations of racial densities in Boston and in the United States at large can be further explored with this New York Times tool.

Store Histories

The Jamaica Plain Super Stop & Shop first opened in 1996 in the Latinx neighborhood of Jamaica Plain near the Jackson Square MBTA station next to what was then the Bromley-Heath Complex (now called the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments), a large low-income public housing development. The store was initially met with resistance from local businesses (particularly small bodega owners) for fear of the economic repercussions of a national chain monopolizing food sales. To quell the controversy, Stop & Shop created a $500,000 fund to support any local businesses hurt by their arrival in the neighborhood, but not a single store applied for funding through this project. Two decades later, those fears appear to have been unfounded; indeed, the introduction of Stop & Shop appears to have improved business for many local bodegas carrying specialty Latinx foods (Ruch). The Super Stop & Shop filled the community’s need to have a large selection of affordable food for the residents in the surrounding area after a large number of national grocery chains had migrated to the Boston suburbs for cheaper rents and on-average wealthier customers (Anguelovski).

The introduction of Whole Foods Market into the Hyde Square area in 2011 was more controversial than the introduction of Super Stop & Shop into the Jackson Square area because Whole Foods Market was replacing Hi-Lo, an affordable Latinx grocery store that had become a community fixture after forty-seven years in business. Super Stop & Shop, however, had been built on an unused lot (Anguelovski). After much discussion in the community, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council chose to formally oppose Whole Food Market’s arrival; they did, however, acknowledge that Whole Foods Market was likely to arrive regardless of community sentiments, and as a result they chose to propose recommendations for a better integration into the community, which Whole Foods Market publically committed to honoring (Ad-hoc Whole Foods Committee: Report to Full JPNC). Regardless, many bemoaned the transformation from an affordable, food-just, accessible community under Hi-Lo to a white, exclusive, upper-class community under Whole Foods Market (Anguelovski).

Standing apart from the other two stores in this study, Tropical Foods (formerly El Platanero, or The Banana Man) has been welcomed and supported by the community since its inception in 1974 as a corner store that exclusively sold plantains. The store has been passed through many hands in the same family and expanded from a plantain store to a bustling corner grocery store to, in early 2015, a brand new 27,000 square foot superstore (Tropical Foods). The store describes itself as follows:

Since 1974, Tropical Foods/(El Platanero) has been the supermarket of Roxbury. Always adapting to meet its customers’ needs, Tropical Foods has earned the reputation of: having unique/hard-to-find product from the Caribbean, Central & South America, and Africa; while also meeting Roxbury’s every day grocery needs. No wonder Tropical Foods/(El Platanero) is called ‘The Supermarket for Everyone!’ (Tropical Foods).

Tropical Foods continues to be a major supermarket in Dudley Square, the business district of Roxbury. It carries brands from a wide variety of countries, including the United States, Caribbean nations, African nations, and South American nations, and it is widely revered as a pillar in the Dudley Square community (Luna).

Chocolate Selections

The chocolate offerings at the Jamaica Plains Whole Foods Market are broken into four distinct displays in addition to small candies available near the registers. Although allWhole Foods 4.JPGdisplays are within a few steps of one another, the layout makes it feel as though chocolate is spread throughout the store as opposed to grouped together into a specific candy aisle. Whole Foods Market carries a variety of craft chocolate brands at high price points, and the displays draw attention to chocolates that are produced locally through brightly colored tags next to the prices. A picture of a featured local chocolate is included to the left.

In this case, Whole Foods Market is featuring Pure 7 chocolate, a brand based in Lynn, Massachusetts (about 16 miles away from this store) that produces sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free chocolate sweetened with honey. The Pure 7 website explains, “of course we assure that all of our ingredients are non- GMO, fair trade and organically produced… [Our] chocolate is Paleo compliant and Paleo certified. It also means you can enjoy it without worrying about ingesting refined sugar which causes a host of health issues in a large number of people” (About Our Company). At Whole Foods Market, Pure 7 is sold for $6.99, which is well within the store’s normal chocolate price range (although charging that price for a chocolate bar would raise eyebrows outside of Whole Foods).

Super Stop & Shop, half a mile away from Whole Foods Market, has a very different chocolate selection from Whole Foods Market. The Jackson Square store has a full,Stop and Shop 5 dedicated snack and candy aisle that extends the length of the store, and it had the largest chocolate selection of the three stores examined in this paper (pictured to the right). The Jamaica Plains Super Stop & Shop carries large, national brands, including Hershey’s, Dove, Cadbury, Lindt, Nestlé, and Ghirardelli at a much lower price-point than the chocolate carried at Whole Foods Market. The two Jamaica Plain stores do not carry any overlapping brands; while Whole Foods carries craft chocolate made in small batches at a high price that might inhibit regular consumption for many people, Stop & Shop carries widely recognized brands at a price that is more accessible for the average consumer. The most expensive unit price available at Stop & Shop was for Ghirardelli 86% Cacao Intense Dark Chocolate at $18.60 per pound. By contrast, the most expensive unit price observed at Whole Foods for traditional chocolate was $62.13 per pound for Raaka Virgin Chocolate’s Yacón Root chocolate.

Finally, the chocolate selection at Tropical Foods is distinct from the other two stores in its emphasis on chocolate products to drink. The chocolate selection at Tropical Foods  Tropical Foods 3.JPGwas the smallest of the three stores. It was divided into three sections: chocolate with which to bake; mixes to make chocolate milk, hot chocolate, and other chocolate beverages; and a small selection of chocolate bars produced by large American companies near the register. Unlike Whole Foods Market and Super Stop & Shop, Tropical Foods did not have a dedicated spot in the store for chocolate bars. A significant section of the store is dedicated to chocolate drinks (as pictured to the right). In particular, Tropical Foods carries the Mexican brand Maizena, a maize-based drink, in four varieties: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and coconut, which neither Stop & Shop nor Whole Foods carried.

Analysis

Whole Foods sells chocolate at the highest price point of the three stores examined here, and its chocolate selection is the only one to emphasize organic, free trade products. Additionally, most chocolate sold at Whole Foods Market is dark chocolate combined with other unique flavors and ingredients. Its focus on expensive, ethically produced craft chocolate might reflect Whole Foods customers’ preferences. Indeed, dark chocolate has been consistently marketed as a luxury good to be consumed by those with so-called “refined” taste, which some argue is the same demographic targeted by Whole Foods Market in their emphasis on healthy, organic foods (Anguelovski).

The chocolate selection at Super Stop & Shop appeared to be tailored to its target demographic; the community surrounding Stop & Shop is made up primarily of middle- to lower-income people for whom the Whole Foods chocolate prices would be prohibitive, whereas the prices at Stop & Shop are more reasonable for regular consumption. The way that chocolate is sold at the Jackson Square Super Stop & Shop makes it a regular food item that can be purchased regularly instead of a luxury item. The lack of emphasis on organic and fair trade chocolate might mean that the consumers who shop at Stop & Shop are unable or unwilling to pay a premium for those benefits, which contrasts with the Whole Foods Market customers who are willing to spend more for these unseen benefits.

Finally at Tropical Foods, the emphasis on drinkable chocolate seems notable especially when compared to the other stores. It seems as though a number of patrons of this store might prefer to consume chocolate in liquid form, which might not be surprising given the historical consumption pattern of drinking chocolate in Mesoamerica, a region from which many of Tropical Foods’ targeted demographics’ ancestors come. Tropical Foods’ mission includes carrying brands that are traditionally hard-to-find in the United States, so carrying Maizena fits in well with their mission of serving the needs of the community in which they are located.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that these three stores operate within two miles of one another, their target demographics and immediately surrounding communities are markedly different. The chocolate selection carried at these three stores can be used a lens through which to examine the general offerings of these stores and the consumption preferences of some of their patrons. The chocolate offerings range from expensive, craft chocolate at Whole Foods Market in Hyde Square, to more affordable, national brands at Super Stop & Shop in Jackson Square, to chocolate products meant to be consumed as a beverage at Tropical Foods in Dudley Square. These three stores cater to specific communities prominent in their areas, and their chocolate offerings are strong examples of this fact.

 

 

 

Works Cited

“About Our Company.” Pure7 Chocolate. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2017. <https://pure7chocolate.com/about-our-company/&gt;.

Ad-hoc Whole Foods Committee: Report to Full JPNC. Rep. Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, 28 June 2011. Web. 1 May 2017. <http://www.jpnc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Ad-Hoc-WF-Committee-Report-June-28-2011.pdf&gt;.

Anguelovski, Isabelle. “Alternative Food Provision Conflicts in Cities: Contesting Food Privilege, Injustice, and Whiteness in Jamaica Plain, Boston.” Geoforum, vol. 58, 2015, pp. 184–194.

Bloch, Matthew, Amanda Cox, and Tom Giratikanon. “Mapping Segregation.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 July 2015. Web. 01 May 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/08/us/census-race-map.html&gt;.

Boston Redevelopment Authority. Boston in Context: Neighborhoods. Publication. 2009-2013 American Community Survey. Aug. 2015. Web. 1 May 2017. <https://www.bostonplans.org/getattachment/290cae05-72b0-47ba-a214-4a6645d43b01&gt;.

Heath, Richard. “Bromley Heath Homes Renamed for Longtime Housing Leader Mildred Hailey.” Jamaica Plain News. N.p., 19 May 2016. Web. 2 May 2017. <http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2016/05/19/bromley-heath-homes-named-after-longtime-housing-leader-mildred-hailey/19555&gt;.

Kent, Alexander, and Thomas C. Frohlich (24/7 Wall St). “The 9 Most Segregated Cities In America.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Aug. 2015. Web. 01 May 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-9-most-segregated-cities-in-america_us_55df53e9e4b0e7117ba92d7f&gt;.

Luna, Taryn. “Tropical Foods to Open Store in Dudley Square – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. N.p., 04 Feb. 2015. Web. 02 May 2017. <https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/02/04/tropical/JBh1Ed1GK0dhdDLZG9oeYJ/story.html&gt;.

Ruch, John. “JP’s Last Supermarket War.” Jamaica Plain Gazette, 29 Apr. 2011. Web. 01 May 2017. <http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2011/04/29/jp%E2%80%99s_last_supermarket_war/&gt;.

Tropical Foods (El Platanero): The Supermarket for Everyone. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2017. <http://tropicalfoods.net/&gt;.

 

Exploring the Chocolate Selection in the Square

You can learn a lot from the chocolate selection at a retail shop.

Cardullo’s is a speciality gourmet shop and delicatessen in Harvard Square. A staple of the Square since 1950 Cardullo’s is home to the area’s food-lovers. Along with providing freshly prepared foods and sandwiches Cardullo’s offers a wide selection of chocolates, teas, wines, liquors, and hard to find specialty food items from around the world.

Just across the street from Cardullo’s is CVS, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy and convenience retailer chains. Along with pharmaceutical and household items, CVS carries an extensive array of products to meet consumers every need.

Cardullo’s is the place I go to when I’m looking to make a splurge on quality food items — chocolate in particular. I trust the selection at Cardullo’s and know that even though it will be a splurge, the quality and superior taste of the chocolate merits the few extra dollars.  

CVS on the other hand is my go-to shop for all my basic needs. I visit CVS whenever I need to purchase anything really whether it be sun block, snacks, notebooks, cosmetics, medicines or household items due to its central location, affordable prices, and broad range of products. While I don’t usually head to CVS to satisfy a chocolate craving (Cardullo’s is my usual stop), I normally end up with some sort of chocolate sweet in my basket when I’m checking out.

Cardullo’s

The chocolate bar selection at Cardullo’s is hard to match. When I visited Cardullo’s the other day I counted at least 30 different brands of chocolate bars that were out on display! And this is just chocolate bars – this number does not include the various other chocolate products such as truffles, cocoa powder, and chocolate covered goods such as dried fruit or nuts. Pictured above is part of the chocolate bar selection at Cardullo’s. As you can see from the pictures above, a large portion of the chocolate at Cardullo’s are imported from various countries. Although the original packaging might be in French, German, or another language, most of these bars have a sticker with the text translated to English. Cardullo’s prides itself of being a gourmet shop and it’s chocolate selection proves their high standard of gourmet goods. The selection of chocolate bars also show that Cardullo’s considers chocolate more than just another commodity by providing craft chocolates to consumers (Martin, lecture 13). 

The flavors of chocolate bars Cardullo’s offers are very interesting — there are many different flavors to choose from. Along with the normal milk and dark chocolate offerings that one would expect, Cardullo’s has chocolate bars filled with unexpected add-ons such as bacon, “coconut ash,” bananas, chipotle, bread crumbs, toffee, honey, mint, ginger, various nuts, berries, and spices. Most of these bars are imported. I found bars made in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Along with clearly stating what country the bar was made in, the chocolate bars in Cardullo’s clearly state where the cacao beans were sourced from.

The single origin chocolate bars have the region where the cacao is taken from clearly displayed on the front label. You can see this in the photos above of the Taza and Valrhona single-origin bars.

I really appreciated the label of the Nirvana chocolate bar pictured above. Not only does it give me information on where the bar was made (Belgium) but also it tells me where the cacao was sourced from (Dominican Republic) and that it comes from Trinitario beans that were ethically sourced! This was the only bar that I could find that specified the type of cacao bean used. You can also clearly see the fair trade and USDA organic certification on the packaging.

Most of the chocolate bars in Cardullo’s had certifications denoting that the chocolate was farmed in a socially responsible and ethical manner such as Fairtrade, UTZ, USDA Organic, TAZA Direct Trade, Non-GMO Verification, IMO For Life, and Rainforest Alliance among others. Engagement with the fair trade movement  has been a successful strategy to change consumer attitudes and reward them for caring about socially and environmentally sound practices (Davies, Ryals 319). 

The packaging of the chocolate bars in Cardullo’s also served the purpose of conveying the company’s story, mission, and core beliefs to the consumer. This gives the consumer the opportunity to learn more about their product, hopefully forming a connection with the consumer to win over their loyalty (Martin, lecture 10). Pictured below are examples of messages found on the back of the chocolate bar packaging. I appreciated reading the stories on the back of the packaging because it helped justify the chocolate bars higher prices. The story on the back of the Divine chocolate bar highlights their unique selling point that Divine is owned by the farmers that grow the cocoa – members of The Kuapa Kokoo cooperative” (Leissle 123).

The chocolate bars in Cardullo’s ranged from $5-$17 dollars with a median price of $10. While I was shocked to find a $17 dollar chocolate bar, pictured below, from class this semester I have learned the justifications behind the higher prices such as sustainable certifications and higher quality of the cacao and production of the bar. The price point of the chocolate bars at Cardullo’s signifies that the shop is catering to a sophisticated consumer who might appreciate the craft of chocolate making or just a higher quality chocolate. 

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$17 chocolate bar!

CVS

My experience visiting CVS’ chocolate section was vastly different from my experience at Cardullo’s. Although there was a large quantitiy of chocolate bars in CVS, there were far fewer brands for sale. CVS sells the usual suspects: Hershey’s, Dove (a Mars product), Nestle, Cadbury, Ferrero, the “big 5”, along with more premier brands such as Lindt, Ghiradelli (operated by Lindt) and Ritter Sport. Pictured below is the chocolate bar asile in CVS along with its “premium chocolate” selection.

 

While browsing the shelves, however, I did find a brand of chocolate bar that I was surprised to see: Endangered Species Chocolates (pictured below).

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As a CVS shopper who frequents the chocolate aisle I was surprised to find this bar hidden on the edge of their display shelf. I was surprised because I am used to CVS carrying bars solely from the big 5 chocolate companies and it was pleasantly surprising to see an ethically sourced chocolate bar represented on their shelf! In fact, I found only two chocolate bars at CVS with sustainability certifications. The Endangered Species Chocolate bar boasts Fairtrade certification on its cover and the Dove chocolate bars, a product from Mars, had Rainforest Alliance certifications on their covers. These two types of bars were placed next to each other on display. Unfortunately neither of these brands were highlighted in CVS’ “Premium Chocolate” selection. This was unfortunate because CVS should use their national presence to promote sustainability and ethically sourced chocolate.

When I inspected the “premium” chocolate bars– the Lindt and Ghiradelli bars– I was surprised that neither of these bars had sustainability or ethical certifications. Although the Ghiradelli bars said that only “the highest quality cocoa beans” were selected for thier product, there were no certifications to back up this claim, as shown below.

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The packaging of the chocolate bars at CVS were not similar to the bars at Cardullo’s. Although the front of the packaging may look similar, when I flipped the bars over I did not find the same sort of message and story that I found on the back of the bars in Cardullo’s.

Instead of the story of the company and the company’s goals,  I found a list of ingredients and maybe a line or two about the brand.

 

The lack of certifications and brand “stories” helped justify the lower price point I saw at CVS. The chocolate bars at CVS were much larger than the bars at Cardullo’s and  in the $2-$4 range. The lower prices of the chocolate bars at CVS could be more desirable for consumers who are looking to save money and might be more frugal than the average Gourmet Shop consumer.

 

Conclusion

From the selection at Cardullo’s you can tell that they are marketing their items towards a consumer who is conscious of ethical concerns and willing to pay more for ethical reasons. Cardullo’s attracts an adventurous eater who has the budget for a higher priced specialty  food items. Although their consumer base is much smaller than CVS’ you can tell from the selection of chocolate bars at Cardullo’s that sustainability and ethics is at the top of their concerns regarding products they choose to sell. On the other hand, CVS’ target audience consists of people willing to get the biggest bang for their buck and CVS capitalizes on that sentiment by offering cheap products while sacrificing the importance of sustainability and ethicality that is apparent at Cardullo’s. Since CVS operates on a national level based on everything that I have learned in this class this semester I would hope that they (CVS) did more to promote ethical practices and sustainability through the products they sell. CVS has the opportunity to make a difference on the national level, whereas small gourmet shops such as Cardullo’s do not. What I learned from this class and the selection of chocolate at CVS is that CVS has the opportunity to create a conversation regarding ethically traded goods and by failing to promote these kinds of products CVS is not doing their part to help change consumer behavior. Browsing the selection of chocolate bars at Cardullo’s after taking this course made me appreciate how they are doing their part to educate consumers. Not many people in America have the opportunity to take a class on the politics of chocolate and understand the social and ethical concerns regarding chocolate. CVS and similar nation-scaled companies should recognize that the average consumer is unaware of the unethical practices behind chocolate and they should do their part to help educate them by promoting ethically sourced chocolate bars.

 

Works Cited

Davies, Iain A., and Lynette J. Ryals. “The Role of Social Capital in the Success of Fair Trade”. Journal of Business Ethics 96.2 (2010): 317–338. Web.
Leissle, Kristy. 2012. “Cosmopolitan cocoa farmers: refashioning Africa in Divine Chocolate advertisements.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 24 (2): 121-139. Class Reading.

Martin, Carla D. 2016. Lecture 10: Alternative trade and virtuous localization/globalization.

 

Martin, Carla D. 2016. Lecture 13: Haute patisserie, artisan chocolate, and food justice.

 

Media Sources

All photography taken by the author of this post