Blog: Brexit boost as UK’s booming chocolate industry laid bare: ‘Sit up and take notice’ – Express

Today, the latest round of post-Brexit talks is set to take place between the UK and the EU in London. Both parties are discussing trade arrangements for Northern Ireland which, unlike the rest of the UK, effectively remains in the EU’s single market for goods. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, strict EU customs checks have been imposed on some products crossing the Irish Sea from Britain.

Brussels had refused to budge over calls to axe the stringent inspections of goods such as fresh meats, which have wreaked havoc for supply chains.

However, last month the EU caved to the UK’s demands and agreed to scrap most of the checks.

The two sides are meeting again to discuss the UK chief negotiator Lord David Frost’s call to remove the role of the EU Court of Justice in overseeing the application of the Protocol.

Amid the latest discussions with the EU, Brexit Britain has been given a boost over its secession from the bloc by a new documentary.

‘The Secret World of Chocolate’ on Channel 4 charts the fascinating history of some of the country’s most iconic sweet treats.

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Narrated by Dawn French, the series looks at the bittersweet rivalries between Cadbury, Mars and Rowntree.

The documentary lays bare the booming chocolate and sweet industry right here in the UK, giving a boost to the idea of the country going it alone.

The feuding confectionery giants have had many battles over the years, including when Cadbury launched its bubble filled Wispa bar in 1983.

The new brand was a direct rival to existing aerated chocolate bar Aero, which was made by Rowntree.

In the documentary, Norman Hawkins, Cadbury’s UK sales director from 1976 to 1982, recalled Cadbury’s emphatic unveiling of its new product.

In a bullish sales strategy, the chocolate company sent out a fleet of vans across the country to flog its new bubbly bar to supermarkets without getting the go-ahead to place the orders first.

Mr Hawkins said: “That day the sales force were told, ‘here’s a list of the orders that will be delivered’.

“‘They haven’t given us the authority to place these orders. Show me how good you are at persuading your customers to take this stock’.

“Seventy five percent of the stock was actually accepted. It made the UK trade sit up and take notice. And that was Wispa.”

Wispa eventually pulled ahead of Aero as the nation’s favourite bubbly chocolate bar and became one of the country’s most famous sweet brands.

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Sir Dominic Cadbury, who retired from his family’s chocolate empire in 2000, also appears in the documentary.

Speaking about the success of Wispa and his memories prior to the launch, the former managing director of the company said: “Rowntree could do what they like with Aero.

“But there was no way they would blunt the popularity and the acclaim with which Wispa was going to be received.”

He added: “Wispa sells to the British public in much bigger quantities than Aero does. It’s what the British public think that matters.

“I’m just simply saying that the British public are right. They love Wispa but they don’t love Aero quite as much.”

Mr Hawkins said that Wispa “was a job well done” but that despite the bar’s huge popularity at the time, Cadbury could not afford to rest on its laurels in the highly competitive chocolate industry.

He said: “Now we will face the next challenge because as sure as eggs are eggs, there would be another one coming down the track. It might be a month, it might be a year.”

‘The Secret World of Chocolate’ is available to stream on All 4.

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