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Cadbury founder’s descendant criticises owner’s ‘disappointing’ stance on Russia

The entrance to the Cadbury factory in Bournville
The entrance to the Cadbury factory in Bournville

A descendant of the founder of Cadbury has criticised the decision of its US owner to keep selling products in Russia, as he said it goes against the chocolate brand’s core values.

In a rebuke of parent company Mondelez, James Cadbury – whose ancestor John Cadbury founded the Birmingham-based company in 1824 – said it was “disappointing” that it hadn’t severed ties with Russia.

Mr Cadbury said: “Cadbury has always stood for peace and corporate social responsibility, so I’d say it is disappointing that Mondelez is operating in Russia.

“If the original founder was somebody who was still involved, I’m sure that operations within Russia probably wouldn’t be something on the agenda.”

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John Cadbury, who died in 1889, was widely credited as being a pioneer of a more ethical approach to capitalism following the Industrial Revolution.

Mr Cadbury said: “[Cadbury has] been involved in lots of social reform over the years in terms of working conditions [and the treatment of] women back in the day when women weren’t treated very well at work.”

Mr Cadbury’s comments will increase scrutiny on Mondelez at a time when campaigners are targeting Western companies still operating in Russia despite the war in Ukraine.

While Mondelez has scaled back its operations in the country, and split its Russian subsidiary into a separate entity, the Cadbury owner continues to sell goods there.

Accounts show that Russia accounted for 2.9pc of Mondelez’s global revenues in 2023. The Cadbury brand itself is not sold directly by Mondelez in Russia, but its chocolates are still sold there through third-party distributors, according to recent reports.

Mr Cadbury’s family are no longer involved in the running of Cadbury.

However, Mr Cadbury set up his own chocolate company, LoveCocoa, in 2016. It bills itself as an ethical chocolatier that produces environmentally friendly chocolate.

Cadbury has been owned by the Chicago-headquartered Mondelez since a hostile takeover in 2010.

Mondelez chief executive Dirk Van de Put said last year that investors did not “morally care” about its continued presence in Russia, which led to a barrage of criticism.

Andy Street, the former Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, wrote to Mr Van de Put in May to urge him to consider the “founding Cadbury family’s Quaker faith and the role of pacifism in those beliefs”.

This was followed by a letter from Ukrainian campaigners earlier this month, who urged the King to strip Cadbury of its Royal Warrant owing to Mondelez’s sales in Russia.

Mondelez, which also owns Toblerone and Oreo, has condemned the war in Ukraine and pledged millions of pounds of aid to Ukrainian citizens.

It has also defended its continued presence in Russia by insisting it is “not that straightforward” to leave the country, largely over fears that its assets could end up in the hands of the state.

A spokesman said: “Suspending our full operations would mean cutting off part of the food supply for many families who have no say in the war and create great uncertainty for our 3,000 colleagues and more than 10,000 farmers who depend on us.

“Products sold in Russia are now produced and distributed locally, with no imports of finished goods from Europe into Russia or exports from Russia into Europe. We are continuing to comply with all applicable sanctions.”