A Matter of Good Taste? Quality and the Construction of Standards for Chocolate Products in the European Union

Efforts to harmonise the different national regulations on production and consumption of chocolate in the EU have run into problems since the early 1970s when new member states (Denmark, Ireland and the UK) joined the original six EEC members. In the new member states, manufacturers of chocolate products were allowed to replace some of the cocoa butter with other vegetable fats, known as cocoa butter equivalents (CBEs). In the original member states, however, chocolate manufacturers were not allowed to add CBE to their products. This difference in national food regulations within the EU obviously raises a problem for the establishment of a common market. The problem is not just technical as the difference is socially and commercially constructed by being embedded in : 1) particular national conceptions about quality and chocolate consumption traditions, and 2) particular industrial structures, i.e. variations in the relative power of the different actors within the national chocolate industries. The present paper examines different actor perspectives on quality. The actors involved are embedded in different segments of the chocolate chain, ranging from consumers to producers of basic raw materials. By examining how – and by whom – the different conceptions of quality are introduced, contested and reconfigured, the paper shows how a complex set of views on quality are transformed into standards. Standards are considered as the formalisation into rules and regulatory structures of a temporary compromise – as asymmetrical as it may be – between social actors.

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Cahiers d'Economie et de Sociologie Rurales (CESR), 55-56
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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