International bad news affects chocolate
War and disease — not the usual topics on a chocolate blog, but these world events are affecting chocolate. Just goes to show that everything is connected.
What’s in a name?
Time Magazine reports that a Belgian company is changing its name because customers have reportedly said they won’t buy chocolate associated with a terrorist organization. The company, which started using the name, ISIS, for its premium Belgian chocolate bars in 1996, is dealing with customer confusion by doing away with that name.
According to Time.com, the name is supposed to stand for Italy and Switzerland, where the founder learned to make chocolate. But in an incredibly tone-deaf move, they decided to rename their entire company ISIS late last year in a re-branding attempt that according to their website will help them grow “to become a bigger national and international player in the chocolate market.”
Instead, the company found that customers think “Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria” — that terrorist organization with the same acronym that is taking over large areas of Iraq and Syria for their own caliphate — and boycotting their chocolates.
In the article, Desiree Libeert, ISIS marketing manager said, “We chose ISIS as that was the brand name of our pralines and tablets. Had we known there was a terrorist organization with the same name, we would have never chosen that.”
Wow. I thought everybody Googled the name they were thinking of using for their company before investing all that time and money into re-branding. Expensive lesson learned. According to the article, the company will now be known as “Libeert,” the owners’ family name.
Should be safe; I Googled it.
Too many sick days
In other world chocolate news, it seems Ebola is affecting chocolate production in West Africa. According to the Financial Post, chocolate production was already declining there due to the maturing of cacao trees and the lack of new plantings to replace them. And now Ebola is further limiting supply.
Just when the cacao harvest should be starting, the Ebola outbreak in cocoa-producing Nigeria and other West African countries is constricting the flow of workers between countries and the export of agricultural products from West Africa.
While the article seems to say this will only temporarily affect the world chocolate market, I can’t help but imagine that if this epidemic continues much longer, cocoa-importing countries could ban all West African cocoa (I’m thinking of the recent extreme cautionary measures some in power are taking in regards to returning heath care workers). And that could have long-term devastating effects on the cacao farmers and local economies there.