‘One bar, one tree’: Love Cocoa pursues travel retail in a sustainable fashion

By Charlotte Turner |

Confectionery entrepreneur, James Cadbury has told TRBusiness of his clear intentions to expand his business into the duty free and travel retail channel. Whilst his brand Love Cocoa, founded in July 2016, is already listed onboard British Airways, he is now in conversation with a number of leading global travel retailers about making the brand’s debut in airport retail.


Standing out in the already saturated travel retail confectionery market is a tall order for the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury – the visionary and philanthropist who created the eponymous brand held in the highest esteem by the British public for almost two centuries and the rest of the world in more recent history. James Cadbury confirms that the Cadbury’s brand was originally built on ‘great ethical grounds, looking after its workforce and improving civil rights’; attributes which have inspired James’ newest venture.


When TRBusiness spoke to James back in February this year, the full implications of Covid-19 were not (and in many ways are still not) clear. We decided to catch up with him this month to discover if his ambitions for the duty free & travel retail business had changed at all in recent months, as the aviation industry grapples with governments to lift restrictions and travel bans imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.


“Despite the expected challenges of lower footfall into DF&TR stores in the next 12 months, we see this as an important channel for Love Cocoa, with customers more than ever wanting to stay connected and we believe our chocolate is the perfect gift to show this. Sustainable products are also expected to drive growth in gifting in the years ahead and our partnership with ‘Trees for Future’, whereby we are planting a tree for every product we sell, has gained great traction across other retail channels.”


Love Cocoa says its ‘clear aim’ is to make great tasting chocolate ‘whilst retaining the ethical principles upon which the original Cadbury’s was founded’.


Love Cocoa supports charity Trees for the Future.

Love Cocoa supports charity ‘Trees for the Future’.


Chocolate’s carbon footprint has doubled with increasing deforestation and Cadbury’s estimates that 169g (six ounces) of carbon dioxide equivalent is emitted into the atmosphere for each 49g (1.7 ounces) Dairy Milk chocolate bar.


Love Cocoa is making a powerful contribution to tackling this problem by planting one tree for every product sold, which it is promoting through its ‘One bar, One tree’ campaign. It has also partnered with environmental organisation, The Rainforest Foundation, to help combat problems of deforestation, cocoa farmer poverty, and human rights abuses; ‘all rife within the cocoa industry’, says James Cadbury.


In a bid to make a difference closer to home, during lockdown the brand was able to work with the Duchess of York donating chocolate to the NHS, which encouraged other brands to get involved, says James. Over 500,000 products were eventually donated to frontline staff. James Cadbury also highlighted that during lockdown, the brand continued its tree planting in Africa and has now become a carbon negative company.


Speaking of the lockdown, had the UK Government been quicker to react to the outbreak the infection rate could have been lower and the knock-on impacts to the UK’s travel and tourism industries could have been minimised, believes James Cadbury.


“I think the UK government was extremely slow to respond and should have introduced some fairly basic steps, such as testing passengers’ temperatures before they enter airports, which would have given travellers a lot more confidence to travel. More recently they have again been slow to adopt testing with a number of airports ready to start this. It is also becoming more common practice in other countries.”



Still, while there is much to be negative about right now, James Cadbury remains optimistic and even had the opportunity to mark a significant milestone recently. In July the brand celebrated its four-year anniversary. TRBusiness asked him what this meant to the company during what is a very challenging time for the UK as well as the global economy.


James Cadbury, Love Cocoa.

Confectionery entrepreneur, James Cadbury has told Charlotte Turner of his clear intentions to expand his business into the duty free and travel retail channel.

“Obviously Covid-19 has been terrible for so many industries and we have been affected with many retailers closing their stores. On the positive side, the pandemic has given us time to breathe and really strategise for the future and as a result, we now have exciting growth plans over the next three years supported by a strong innovation pipeline.


“In addition, we received a brilliant consumer reaction to our new branding which we launched during lockdown, that resulted in a surge in online sales and increases in weight of purchase and rate of sale in stores that remained open.”



Back in February, James told TRBusiness Love Cocoa would indeed be a good fit for travel retail. “We already work with British Airways; we came on board for their centenary year and the relationship has grown very nicely from there.”


While Love Cocoa appears to be a great fit with a legacy carrier such as British Airways – especially as the UK remains the chocolate brand’s biggest market – airports are the next big target.


“For airports in particular we want to increase our distribution as much as possible and we feel that airports will facilitate this most effectively. We also believe that our ‘One bar, One tree’ message will resonate strongly with those looking to offset their carbon footprint – even if in just a small way – while they are travelling.”


Outside of the UK, Love Cocoa exports to Japan and the US; two geographical targets in travel retail which James Cadbury identifies among others, such as Singapore, Hong Kong as well as India.


“Cadbury’s already has a loyal customer base in India,” adds James Cadbury, “so it’s not surprising that [Love Cocoa] has received some interest from Indian consumers wanting to know more about our story too.”

'Fair and square' - the new packaging aims to send the message that the brand is eco-conscious and ethically responsible.

‘Fair and square’ – the new packaging aims to send the message that the brand is eco-conscious and ethically responsible.


When asked about China, the Love Cocoa founder conceded that he believes the market preference is skewed towards legacy brands and that Chinese consumers are less likely to take a chance on a ‘challenger brand’.


“In China they are looking for a legacy brand whereas in Europe and other parts of the world they are more open to challenger brands and new brands. They are more likely to pick up something new and be more experimental. Also, regulatory wise it’s very complex in China.”


However, he does admit that even low penetration in a high volume market such as China could deliver significant returns; especially if the product was available at high-speed railway stations on the Mainland.


“High-speed railways present a huge opportunity in Mainland China, generally for confectionery,” says James Cadbury. “But China airport retail is very low on the radar at the moment.”



The beauty of Love Cocoa is its size, which permits agility and rapid response times when it comes to bespoke orders or demand for alternative products.


Whilst James Cadbury is pulling the reigns on some of his plans for travel retail in the face of dramatic recent developments connected with Covid-19, his ambitions for the channel remain resolute, and form important part of his 5-year expansion plan which includes a new factory.


“Up to this point we’ve grown pretty much organically with not a huge amount of funding. We want to take customers beyond the transaction in travel retail and we are not just a ‘me too’ brand.”


Love Cocoa is already engaging a diverse target audience in local markets with its compelling brand story and robust green credentials to boot. On their road to recovery, travel retailers should be looking to nurture green shoots, such as Love Cocoa, which could be key to much-needed growth.

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