Cadbury to launch the ‘Diet Coke’ of chocolate in ‘habit-changing’ health drive

Cadbury reckons millions of people's lives are about to be changed – by diet chocolate.

Dirk van de Put, chief executive of the brand's US owner Mondelez, believes new low-fat versions of the sweet treat will become as popular as Diet Coke.

Chocolate makers are using plant-based fibres to cut out up to 75% of sugar and fat.

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Mr van de Put said the result could forever change consumer habits.

“It's going to be a bit like diet drinks and grow very slowly but we need to keep it on the market,'' he said.

“It's going to take a while before the consumer really takes to that because it still is not quite exactly the same taste – although it is getting close.

“It's going to be a very slow build and companies like ours will need to stay the course in offering those options.''

Mr van de Put hit out at a Whitehall anti-obesity drive which has been widely condemned by supermarkets and sweet-makers for tying them up in red tape.

In addition to a sugar tax on soft drinks ministers have also banned the sale of unhealthy snacks at supermarket checkouts in a bid to influence consumer behaviour.

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Mr van de Put doubted the checkout ban will `drive down obesity in the country' and instead suggested better nutrition education would have more of an impact.

“I have my doubts that it will make a real difference,'' he said.

“It's a lot of effort for everybody involved to make this happen to potentially very limited effect.

“In general I would say our view is that regulation or taxation doesn't really work at all.

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“We believe if you're asking them to give up an indulgence or watch very carefully every day what you eat, they're not going to do that.

“But they do understand moderation.

“I think if you start in schools and teach people how to have a balanced diet that includes indulgence but to a controlled degree.''

He said chocolate makers are committed to developing healthy alternatives.

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“We have to offer more healthy options and we're working hard for that,'' he said.

“We are asking ourselves is there a way we can make those products contain less sugar, for instance, and new technology and new ingredients that will allow us to do so.''

Previous attempts by Cadbury to launch healthier chocolate have flopped.

The company launched a version of Dairy Milk with 30% less sugar in 2019 but it struggled to excite shoppers.

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Rival Mars launched a range of healthier bars called Triple Treat last year. And in 2018 Nestlé began selling a white chocolate bar called Wowsomes with 30% less sugar than a Milkybar.

It was axed after less than two years owing to low demand.

Andy Baxendale, a consultant who advises sweets companies, said: “I think people don't eat chocolates to be healthy.

“It's a luxury item that should be treated as such, not part of a healthy diet.

“It's an indulgent treat.''


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