Coles angers vegan community with change to blocks of dark chocolate : “What the hell were you thinking?”

chocolate, cocoa

Supermarket giant Coles has sparked the ire of vegans and shoppers with dietary requirements, amid claims the formula for supermarket’s ‘Coles’ branded blocks of dark chocolate has been revised to include milk solids.

Shoppers started to call the supermarket out over the weekend on social media, with thousands of Facebook users reacting to the news that the chocolate blocks — a favourite treat of the lactose intolerant and vegan communities — suddenly contains milk products in the ingredients list

Several complainants told Coles their households purchased multiple blocks of the product each week, both because of the Fairtade certification of the item, which shoppers say has also now disappeared from packaging, as well as its status as one of the most affordable vegan chocolate products on the market.

“I’m deeply disappointed in this,” said one Facebook user, asking for a reversal of the change. His post has now garnered more than 4000 likes and reactions from other fans of the item, who say they now cannot purchase it because the ingredients do not match up with their ethical and allergy requirements.

“My heart is absolutely BREAKING!”said another shopper. “I’m not vegan, but I’m quite intolerant to dairy and the discovery of your dark chocolate allowed me to still enjoy one of the finer things in life”.

“What the hell were you thinking?” said another fan.

On Monday morning Coles had not put out an official explanation to shoppers about the change and the retailer did not respond to SmartCompany’s request for comment about the changes prior to publication.

The Coles online shopping portal advertises the 200 gram variety of the product for $2.50, and the accompanying product image includes a Fairtrade label on the front of the packet. However, images of the new packets shared on social media over the weekend do not have the Fairtrade marking on the front.

Small changes to cult-favourite products have caused mass outrage over the past couple of years, from the change to the recipe for Shapes biscuits, which has since been reversed, to the alteration of Toblerone sizes and news last week that Tiny Teddy lunch-box snack packs were going to be packed differently due to power price concerns.

Branding expert Michel Hogan says with any change to a niche product or item that appeals to particular shopper requirements, like dietary needs, businesses should expect customers to be upset by sudden shifts in design.

Then there’s a different level of connection and expectation,” she tells SmartCompany. 

“Small businesses should keep an eye on what Coles does”

Hogan says the problem with consumer outrage against a big brand like Coles, however, is that even when a product change affects thousands of customers, it can be unlikely that the change will be reviewed.

“[The change] has got to cause an equivalent financial pain before they change their mind,” Hogan suggests. 

However, when a group of shoppers is concerned over the loss of a product they believe is essential, it’s a great opportunity for SMEs to offer a solution, says Hogan.

“Small business should keep an eye on what Coles does,” she suggests. 

Someone else’s misstep is always someone else’s opportunity.”

Smaller operators have the ability to cater to a niche group’s needs, and even if a product change doesn’t affect a significant chunk of the customer base of a big retailer, it still could be enough for a small business to start conversations and capture new customers.

“The ripple effect is an interesting one here: those three thousand vegans are going to tell ten people each about that product,” Hogan says. 

“If I was a vegan, I’d be putting out the call and saying, does anyone know another vegan dark chocolate?

“So if I was an SME chocolate provider with a vegan, fair trade chocolate in my arsenal, I’d be all over social media with this one.”

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Rohan Baker
Rohan Baker
3 years ago

Q: How do you know if someone is a vegan?

A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

GlenJ
GlenJ
3 years ago
Reply to  Rohan Baker

Q. How can you tell if someone is an undercarbed meat eater?
A. They say the same thing over and over and over and over and over

Jay Clair
3 years ago
Reply to  GlenJ

BURN!

Stuart51
Stuart51
3 years ago

There is no such thing as ‘vegan’. Every minute you swallow millions of bacteria – once caused ‘animalcules’ – to be digested by stomach acids, and to be incorporated into YOU!!!!

Matilda Rose
Matilda Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Stuart51

‘Veganism: a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.’

Luke Murray
Luke Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  Matilda Rose

It amazes me how people criticise vegans when they don’t even know the definition of what a vegan is 🙂 HAHAHAHA!

Jay Clair
3 years ago
Reply to  Luke Murray

DC’s everywhere

Stuart51
Stuart51
3 years ago
Reply to  Matilda Rose

I can handle that definition.

But I’m not sure all vegans can.

Tom Electricnose
Tom Electricnose
3 years ago
Reply to  Stuart51

So if you can’t be 100 %, it’s no point? Being 100 % is impossible.
But being 90 % is better than 5 % 😉
#rekt

Stuart51
Stuart51
3 years ago

Agreed

Luke Murray
Luke Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  Stuart51

Just to clarify veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

Elly Comley
Elly Comley
3 years ago
Reply to  Stuart51

Dude, vegans don’t eat animals or animal products. Bacteria are prokaryotes and therefore ARE NOT ANIMALS.
Wait, you’re a troll, aren’t you? I mean, with this level of ignorance…

Stuart51
Stuart51
3 years ago
Reply to  Elly Comley

So, we need a new definition. “Vegans eat prokaryotes and eukaryotes so long as the eukaryote is a eucarrot but not a eucarrion”

Make up your mind.

Tom Electricnose
Tom Electricnose
3 years ago
Reply to  Stuart51

You do know, without bacterias you will die?
Oh I forgot, I was talking to a guy who knows nothing about the body or nutritian, aka rotten carcass eater

Elly Comley
Elly Comley
3 years ago
Reply to  Stuart51

I was using it as a way to reinforce my argument. Prokaryotes are single-celled organisms that do not have brains, much like yourself. They don’t feel things the way that animals do.

Stuart51
Stuart51
3 years ago
Reply to  Elly Comley

Cambridge English Dictionary;
animal
noun [ C ] UK ​ /ˈæn.ɪ.məl/ US ​ /ˈæn.ə.məl/
animal noun [ C ] (CREATURE)

A1 ‘something that lives and moves but is not a human, bird, fish, or insect’

Elly Comley
Elly Comley
3 years ago
Reply to  Stuart51

Try a biological definition:

Definition

noun, plural: animals

A living organism belonging to Kingdom Animalia that possess several characteristics that set them apart from other living things, such as:
(1) being eukaryotic (i.e. the cell contains a membrane-bound nucleus) and usually multicellular (unlike bacteria and most protists, an animal is composed of several cells performing specific functions)
(BiologyOnline.org)

Beck Amore
Beck Amore
3 years ago

I genuinely detest the use of the word “Cult” in this article.

If you knew anything about veganism, you would know that a “Cult” it is not.

Please reconsider your phrasing, because these words can be damaging to the ethics of veganism and other important causes.

Jay Clair
3 years ago
Reply to  Beck Amore

Relax… many products have a cult following… its not calling vegans a cult! Thats the point.

Tom Electricnose
Tom Electricnose
3 years ago
Reply to  Beck Amore

If it were a cult, it most be the most lonely cult I have ever been in :p
I know just 2 of my friends that are vegan

Hope Jacinta
Hope Jacinta
3 years ago

ALDI has a great dark chocolate – the sea salt one is absolutely sick.

Elly Comley
Elly Comley
3 years ago
Reply to  Hope Jacinta

Mmmm… Moser Roth ?

Lucasydney
Lucasydney
3 years ago
Reply to  Hope Jacinta

but it’s not dairy free

Elly Comley
Elly Comley
3 years ago

This is so sad. It isn’t easy to find inexpensive vegan chocolate that’s creamier and not as intense, I’m so glad I had it while it lasted 🙁

Sui Nakigai
3 years ago

I love all the response 😀 wow! I actually emailed the company a long time ago, had no idea this woulg get such a huge reaction.

Heather
Heather
3 years ago

I have seen somebody post that Aldi has basically the same product for about $2. Not the Moser Roth brand, it looks similar to the Coles brand chocolate only in a blue packet I believe. Since I’ve moved to NZ I unfortunately can’t check in store. I must say, I have missed Coles dark chocolate though.

Please leave vegans alone
Please leave vegans alone
3 years ago

Not sure what the big deal is – find another product. Vegans taking over the world – that concerns me a bit because without blood and bone and krill, deep sea fish products, a lot of the food choice for vegans could be limited. Is my produce vegan if I used blood and bone and fish based fertilisers? Where do you draw the line.

My produce might not even come to ‘fruition’ pardon the pun, if I don’t use animals of some sort in the production. Well, it might, but no one would want to buy it..because it would be small and perhaps not taste any good.. is that important for a vegan? Or will vegans travel and live in the countries where the food originates from to get the ‘perfect’ growing environment.

Vegans – please do not buy anything that has had blood and bone, or fish based fertilisers either – I think that’s something to consider if you really want to follow your cause because an animal / living organism with a brain died to produce most of the food we eat. I don’t think I could even purchase a product that was suitable for my environment which I could logistically afford and get to produce the same outstanding results of taste nutrition.

What would be really awesome if someone who was vegan could actually setup their own vegan empire to keep people happy. Then you could also spend time focussing on other important worldly matters because you are very passionate about the life of animals.

I think starting somewhere, a petition against carnivorous animals who eat other animals might be a start because they are ruining it for the other animals. I can’t watch shows with wildlife in them being attacked and killed by lions or large meat eating carnivores because it upsets me. I genuinely hate seeing suffering of animals in this way. It’s cruel and incredibly painful for animals to die in the wild like they do.

How do you solve problems like this – animals are suffering?

It’s difficult in this world of suffering. I hope being vegan brings you some joy and happiness because I hear so much angst and anger and to think that what you’re eating has been fertilised with animal products could make your choices even harder.

Good luck with your journey and vision of making a difference in the world.