Cadbury and the National Trust are ending their 13-year partnership, Marketing Week can exclusively reveal.
The £7m sponsorship deal saw Cadbury host Easter egg hunts at National Trust properties across the the UK. However, the National Trust had come under increasing pressure to end the tie-up in recent years due to members concerns over claims Cadbury uses unsustainable palm oil in its products, which the chocolate-maker denies.
This year’s Easter Egg Trails activation will go ahead as planned. But with the current contract set to end in 2021, both parties have decided not to renew the long-running deal.
The move is part of a strategic review into Cadbury’s marketing activities.
A spokesperson from Cadbury’s parent company Mondelēz adds: “The time is right for both sides to move on as we look for ways to bring Easter trails to more families across the UK, bringing joy to even more consumers at this special time of year.
“Cadbury will continue to celebrate great family moments and work with great partners like the National Trust. For now we’re working to make sure that this year’s Easter Egg Trails are the best ever.”
The National Trust tells Marketing Week it wants to make “chocolate less of a focus” in the future.
A spokesperson for the charity explains: “Now is the time for change as we look to increase our emphasis on nature and the outdoors. To reflect that in our Easter activities, from next year we will be making chocolate less of a focus. For this reason, it is the right time for us to end a partnership associated so uniquely with chocolate.”
The decision to end the deal comes after the National Trust faced a backlash from members after Greenpeace alleged that Cadbury’s suppliers were using unsustainable palm oil that threatened the Indonesian orangutang population. Some of the trust’s 5.5 million members said they wanted the charity to switch to a “sustainable and ethical” alternative to Cadbury.
Cadbury has denied the claims and says it is working with the industry to end deforestation in the production of palm oil.
The issue was brought up at the National Trust annual general meeting in October 2019, with the future of the deal put to a vote. The charity’s Board of Trustees advised against ending the deal.
The resolution to cease the Cadbury deal did not pass. Nearly 13,000 members voted to end the partnership with Cadbury but in excess of 20,000 voted to see out the contract.
However, the National Trust hinted that it would be looking for a different partner when the deal runs out next year. A spokesperson said at the time: “Our trustees have been keen to share members’ concerns to Cadbury so it has the opportunity to address them while we continue our own review and test the market for new suppliers for a refreshed Easter seasonal offer once our contract ends in 2021.”
The National Trust is hoping to replace Cadbury with a new partner from next year. Cadbury will also be looking for an alternative way to activate Easter egg hunts.