Monday, January 08, 2007

More Fraudulent Chocolate

I wrote previously about Dallas Food's expose on Noka chocolate. Noka has responded to the article with a public statement which you can read on the Dallas Food forum website. First, with respect to the allegations in part three of the Dallas series that Noka misleads consumers into thinking that they manufacture their chocolate rather than buy couverture from a manufacturer, Noka offers their "bean to bar" rap:
NōKA Chocolate has never intended to suggest that the Company makes chocolate from “bean to bar” (roasting, grinding and otherwise processing cacao into couverture). In fact, we’ve sought to make this clear in numerous public statements. In an effort to further clarify this wherever possible we are reviewing all of our communications to ensure there is no room for misinterpretation.
Noka also refuses to identify their supplier of couverture (bulk chocolate):
NōKA Chocolate considers information regarding our couverture to be proprietary. We respect supplier confidentiality and as such will not comment on speculation about any of our vendor partners. The non-disclosure of proprietary information is commonplace in the chocolate industry and the food industry in general. NōKA Chocolate’s couverture is made to our strict specifications. The Company is dedicated to creating the NōKA Chocolate experience with pure single-estate, dark chocolates and truffles.
Part Six of the Dallas Food series noted that this couverture secrecy is not standard industry practice. Sure, other companies have secrets, but they're not secretive about their basic materials, because the basic materials are such a selling point. Dallas Food alleged that the secrecy was intended to help create the impression that Noka themselves made the chocolate.

Noka also objects to the Part Two calculation of the per-pound cost of their chocolate (up to $2,000/pound), saying
It would be just as unthinkable to calculate the per-pound cost of a sterling silver bar and compare it to the per-pound cost of a piece of Tiffany sterling silver jewelry, while disregarding Tiffany’s standards for quality, the creativity of transforming the sterling silver bar into a beautiful piece of jewelry and the intrinsic value of the Tiffany Blue box in which the jewelry would be presented. We respect companies like Tiffany for their high standards, commitment to quality and dedication to customer service and their ability to create the Tiffany experience that their customers choose to enjoy. Our packaging, presentation and exceptional customer service are intrinsic elements that contribute to the NōKA Chocolate experience.
They fail to respond to the charges of Part Four that Noka's a shitty chocolatier.

Ultimately, Noka argues that it's appropriate to call this chocolate "our chocolate":
NōKA Chocolate stands by the statement that this is “our chocolate.” NōKA’s couverture is made to our strict specifications. We specify the source ingredients, the region from which the ingredients are sourced and the process by which the couverture is made.
The article points out that Noka makes their chocolate using a commonly-available chocolate. I leave it as an exercise to the reader as to whether this current statement is misleading. Are Corn Flakes made to my strict specifications because I choose them off the shelf because I find them delicious? Do I specify that Diet Coke be made with Nutrasweet because I don't buy the kind with Splenda? Aren't they still playing the same game, implying a greater oversight and control over the chocolate manufacture process than actually exists?

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