Want to see the 2007 equivalent of the "New Coke" story unfold?
Remember in 1985 when Coca Cola shocked the world by disasterously changing the recipe to Coke in response to the success of the Pepsi Challenge? It's considered one of the ten worst business decisions in history.
Well, today, Masterfoods, makers of Mars Bars, Snickers and Twix announced that they have inexplicably started using animal products in their chocolate snacks.
From 1 May, Masterfoods started using rennet, a chemical sourced from calves' stomachs (and a by-product of the veal industry), in the production of whey which is used in all of their snack and ice cream range.
"If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then
we are sorry the products are no longer suitable, but a less strict
vegetarian should enjoy our chocolate," said Paul Goalby, corporate
affairs manager for Masterfoods.
The Vegetarian Society have described the move as "incomprehensible".
Masterfoods said that the switch was based on a "principled decision". Oh good, I'm glad is wasn't one of those "unprincipled decisions"! What is the principle that encourages you to ignore what the customer wants and values? Clearly this is a financial decision. I don't doubt that this decision is about shaving a fraction of a penny off a bar of chocolate.
Not only will a bunch of vegetarian groups now boycot this product, but many other consumers will be disgusted by Masterfoods' arrogance. You don't have to be a vegetarian to not want liquidised baby cow's stomach in your chocolate bar.
Anyone care to wager how long it will take Masterfoods to reverse this decision? I'll also take bets on how many millions Masterfoods will lose before they do so.
And yes, they're off my shopping list. Them and Nestlé.