Fans of the British-made Cadbury chocolates may have trouble finding their products in the United States in the near future. Hershey’s filed a lawsuit against Let’s Buy British Imports (LBB) for importing the British versions of candies that Hershey’s has the rights to produce in the U.S. and the two have struck a deal to bar the importation of the British Cadbury chocolates. The deal would also prevent some British Nestlé products from being sold in the U.S. due to their having packaging similar to Hershey’s products, according to The New York Times. Hershey’s does have the legal justification for banning British Cadbury chocolate, but they are overreaching in trying to cut off importation of some Nestlé products and are unethically targeting Nestlé, with no legal grounds to do so, in order to be the only major chocolate supplier in the U.S.
In the wake of this announcement, fans of British Cadbury products have been in an uproar on social media, even trying to get people to stop eating Hershey’s products with the hashtag,“#boycotthershey,” according to CNBC. However, what these people fail to realize is that the decision to sue, specifically over Cadbury, wasn’t really about chocolate. It was a business decision.
“Since 1988, Hershey has owned the right to sell Dairy Milk, Creme Eggs and other Cadbury products. Why? Simple — Cadbury needed the money, and decided that Hershey could manage the U.S. business better than it could,” TIME Magazine reported. Hershey’s owns the production rights to Cadbury chocolate sold in the U.S. When Cadbury chocolate is imported it takes money away from Hershey’s Cadbury productions and may also steal some of Hershey’s customers over to the British Cadbury side. When LBB imports British Cadbury, they are ultimately taking money out of Hershey’s pockets while also becoming a meaningful competitor on U.S. soil. In the case of the British Cadbury, Hershey’s is just defending the rights it bought directly from Cadbury.
Though Hershey’s does have the right to bring LBB to court over British Cadbury being brought into the U.S., it should not be suing in regards to the Nestlé products. Apparently, Nestlé’s packaging for Toffee Crisps too closely resembles the Hershey’s packaging for Reese’s and Nestlé’s Yorkie bars and Maltesers too closely resemble other Hershey’s products, according to Hershey’s lawsuit as reported by CNBC. It’s true that they do resemble each other, if not in name, then in appearance. Toffee crisps have the same color packaging as Reese’s, Yorkie bars resemble Peppermint Patties and Maltesers resemble Whoppers. Even with this resemblance, Hershey’s has no right to fight their sale in the U.S.
The aforementioned candies all appeared a few years before or after the competition’s candy in two very different countries, as seen on their respective websites. It’s possible that one may have influenced the other, but chocolate fans can attest that British and American chocolates taste quite different. While they are similar, Nestlé isn’t trying to sue Hershey’s, and Hershey’s has never made a deal for production rights with Nestlé, making their claim to certain colors and similar candies baseless. This is just Hershey’s way of trying to exile some of their greatest competitors from American soil, via their supplier LBB.
Hershey’s is acting intelligently but with ethical abandon in going after British Cadbury and Nestlé through LBB. The company does have the production rights for Cadbury in the U.S., and so their demands to cease the importation of British Cadbury are legally viable. Despite this legal clause specifically regarding Cadbury products, Hershey’s is getting a little too greedy in their going after Nestlé products because they really have no legal justification to go after Nestlé. Hershey’s is taking down who they can in order to protect their own sales, showing that there is in fact a sour side to chocolate.
Rebecca Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org