On the up · 16 January 2018

Ethical chocolatier James Cadbury refines the family tradition with Love Cocoa

Love Cocoa
Love Cocoa products are free from refined sugars, gluten and palm oil

Growing up close to Bournville’s Cadbury factory, James Cadbury understands the importance of tradition in our confectionary brands. With Love Cocoa, he’s looking to make British chocolate great again.

Cadbury is a descendent of John Cadbury, original founder of the chocolate heavyweight, and started Love Cocoa with his own savings to restore faith in the British chocolate tradition.

The business manufactures its diverse product range on UK shores with independent suppliers and donates ten per cent of all profits to charity. Cadbury has also committed Love Cocoa to fully recyclable packaging in 2018.

Business Advice caught up with Cadbury to find out about his own inspirations, multiple revenue streams and where Love Cocoa is doing things differently to other confectionary startups.

  1. Who are you and what is your business?

I am James Cadbury the founder of Love Cocoa. At Love Cocoa we aim to make British chocolate great again, reinventing chocolate classics with a contemporary touch, being free-from refined sugars, gluten, palm oil and other nasties. Love Cocoa also gives back, donating ten per cent of profits to charity.

  1. What inspired you to start Love Cocoa?

I set up the business because I wanted to send my mum a present in the post, and there wasn’t a business that sent chocolate next day delivery through the letter box. So I built Love Cocoa!

Love Cocoa founder James Cadbury
Love Cocoa founder James Cadbury

Growing up I also learned a lot about my ancestors’ ethics. They did some amazing things such as being the first employer to give employees weekends off, to building Bournville for its workers, even buying a newspaper to try and stop a war. Without doubt this inspired me and I hope some of their ethics rub off with Love Cocoa.

  1. What makes Love Cocoa stand out from typical chocolate brands?

We try to be as innovative as possible, from packaging to delivery. We’re focused on making it easy for customers to gift our products if they purchase online with our deliveries fitting through the letterbox.

We also love to experiment with flavours and developed a gin and tonic chocolate bar, as well as an avocado bar which is a world first.

  1. Why is the charitable donation important to you?

We donate ten per cent of profits to charity and are excited to start working with a rainforest charity in the New Year who fight against deforestation for palm oil. The chocolate industry is responsible for one per cent of this deforestation and we believe this shouldn’t be the case.

We’re passionate about the environment, and in 2018 we will be using 100 per cent recyclable packaging, replacing any plastics we use with plant-based materials.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about the independent UK producers in your supply chain?

We are proud to make chocolate in the UK unlike some rival businesses. We are committed to always manufacturing in the UK and the “handmade in Great Britain” does sell well with exports.

We always try to use UK produce when we can, for example Pact Coffee and Barnes & Webb honey, to Maldon Salt and Summerdown Farm Mint. We love the quality of their produce.

  1. What were the biggest challenges in getting your product stocked in high end retailers?

We have been really lucky to work with some big retailers such as Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols, however it hasn’t been all easy. Big retailers are often bombarded by new brands, so it helps if your brand stands out, and you are also persistent.

  1. Do you expect the corporate sales market to become an increasingly important revenue stream?

We do see it as a great additional revenue stream and have already started working with a number of companies sending our bars (with a note) directly to their customers. This has worked really well when saying sorry if something goes wrong, or it can simply be a lovely welcoming.

"We’re focused on making it easy for customers to gift our products if they purchase online."
“We’re focused on making it easy for customers to gift our products if they purchase online.”

We are developing more corporate gift options for the future too, including personalisation.

  1. Initial funding came from yourself – what have you learnt from your recent crowdfunding experiences?

Crowdfunding is great for product companies like ours, as retail investors understand the business better and can see the potential in the products. We have over 300 investors who have been great in supporting the business and spreading the word.

Having previously crowdfunded for a different business I understood the process well and what makes a successful crowdfunding campaign. The key is preparation and we had envisaged most of the questions from potential investors before they asked. This made our life a lot easier during the raise and helped us answer any question within an hour of it being asked on the forums.

  1. Have you got any products in the pipeline to expand the brand?

This year we are focusing on expanding our gifting range and are in the middle of developing lots of products.

We are excited to be launching a personalisation product next month which allows customers to upload photos onto packaging before receiving it through the post. We are also launching some truffle products which are a great gift to send.

  1. Is it fair to say there is a chocolatier tradition in the family?

Of course, it’s always been in my blood. I grew up very close to the Cadbury factory and Bournville and have lots of nice childhood memories about my visits. I was always in awe of what they achieved and deep down I always wanted to be involved in some way.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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