On its first year anniversary it looks like the carbon tax is shouldering the blame for the decline in the quality of a popular consumer good—chocolates.
According to reports from The Daily Telegraph, rising electricity prices and the sky-high dollar are responsible for the change in taste and quality of chocolate products.
The article written by Taylor Auerbach cites information coming from a leading industry insider who says it is already common knowledge that leading chocolate manufacturers have shortened the stage of “conching” in an effort to cut costs.
Conching is the stage that grinds the ingredients and breaks down the fibers. A conching machine kneads the paste for as long as a few hours to a few days. The conches have rollers that produce different degrees of agitation and aeration and this process strongly affects the final flavor and texture of the chocolate, according to the website The Story of Chocolate.
The unnamed industry source also says companies in Australia use condensed milk rather than powdered dairy products which does not break down as well and blend with the cocoa.
According to the Telegraph article, Darrell Lea owner Tony Quinn has acknowledged the negative impact of the carbon tax on chocolate manufacturing, saying the tax increased the cost of electricity used to make chocolate by 50 percent and is inflicting “a slow death on the Australian manufacturing industry”.
The company has already moved the production of pet food to Texas, but Quinn says it would be a PR “disaster” for chocolate production to follow suit.
“It’s tougher than it’s ever been before,” says Quinn. “The politicians have got no vision into the future, they can only see as far as their term in office. The incentive is there to move offshore.”
Carbon tax has been on the chopping block since last week, with speculations that Australia’s returning Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will dump the policy in favor of an emissions trading scheme.
The Australian Industry Group has called for a compromise to lower the carbon price for now to $6 a tonne, in line with the European market scheme. This is considered the middle ground between Gillard’s steadfast commitment to the fixed $23 price and Tony Abbott’s call for outright dumping.
It remains unseen whether or not the quality of Australian made chocolate will improve if the carbon tax gets abolished, but if taste tests are any indication, it looks like the Australian chocolate manufacturing industry has a lot to do to get back in the game.
Head chef Richard Ptacnik, who works at Otto Restaurant in Woolloomooloo, did a taste test on supermarket-bought chocolate bars from Australia and the UK and said he finds the British Mars Bar “100 percent better”, according to The Daily Telegraph article.