The axe is hanging over jaffas, chocolate fish and even pineapple lumps! Experts believe the Kraft takeover of Cadbury in Britain could mean the end of New Zealand delicacies in favour of worldwide brands.

The Cadbury board yesterday accepted a US$19.6 billion (NZ$26.6 billion) takeover bid from American company Kraft Foods, creating the world’s largest confectionary group. “There is a very real danger that some of the brands will disappear,” Tim Richardson, author of Sweets: a History of Temptation, told the Guardian newspaper in London.

“Whenever there is a big takeover, a company will look to improve productivity and profitability. “Within five years, we could be looking at a Cadbury with far fewer brands.”

For New Zealanders, that could put Cadbury’s uniquely Kiwi products – including Moro Bars, Pebbles, Perky Nanas, Snowballs, Eskimos, Jet Planes, Marshmallow Eggs and Fruit Bursts – under threat. Otago University senior marketing lecturer Dr Ben Wooliscroft said ditching local products would be a risky move as it would leave room for other manufacturers to fill the gaps.

 He said people had developed a relationship with the Cadbury brand, and if local products were performing well it did not make sense to get rid of them. “These products are a part of us, part of our culture. They belong to us as much as the company.”

There were also fears for the future of the Cadbury factory in Dunedin. Otago Service and Food Workers’ Union spokesman Neville Donaldson said Kraft did not have Cadbury’s good reputation as an employer. A spokesman for Cadbury New Zealand said it was business as usual, but no one could say for sure what would happen when Kraft took over. Kraft’s chairwoman and chief executive, Irene Rosenfeld, said the company had great respect for Cadbury’s brands, heritage and people.

The takeover has not been completed, and other multi-national confectioners, such as Hershey, have until next week to outbid Kraft.

– NZH/ODT

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