Chocolate Brands’ Communication of Corporate Social Responsibility in Germany

Nina Langen, Monika Hartmann


Signalling CSR activities by firms have gained considerable relevance over the last decade with enterprises having a large variety of instruments to design their CSR communication. Different communication means can complement one another as the information distributed refers to different elements of the overall CSR concept. Some information provided by firms relates more to a single (selected) product(s) of the firm (e.g. product labels) while other presents the firm’s overall involvement regarding CSR (e.g. websites, CSR reports). Among the many potential communication channels that allow disseminating information about a (food) company’s CSR involvement to consumers (certified) labels on product packages are the ones most easily visible and accessible for consumers while information on websites addresses, in addition, and in many cases primarily, other key stakeholders such as employees and NGOs. Chocolate is one of the most favoured luxury foods in Germany. Cacao, the main ingredient of chocolate is largely produced in the Ivory Coast. There, child labour, non-sustainable producer wages etc. are serious deficits in the field of cacao production. Chocolate manufacturers are seen to have responsibility for these issues as their business practices influence producers’ livelihood. Given this background, the form and extent of CSR communication of chocolate brands is addressed in this paper.
CSR related communication was investigated by two means. In December 2011 a market study was conducted regarding CSR related information on chocolate products in several food stores and content analyses of the websites of chocolate manufacturers were carried out. Results indicate that all retail stores but Aldi offer some chocolate bars with CSR related information. The relevance of chocolate bars with CSR labels in the overall chocolate assortment, however, considerably differs between the stores under investigation. The findings also reveal that most companies in the chocolate sector do communicate their CSR involvement in the internet, often to a considerable extent, though in many cases only in foreign languages such as English.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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