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Chocolate (Price) Fix: Does It Matter?

12 Jun
English: A regular Hershey bar, out of the pac...

English: A regular Hershey bar, out of the package. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent NBC News story reported that Hershey Canada, Mars Canada and Nestlé Canada have been charged with conspiracy to fix the price of chocolate in that country. Along with these companies, one of Canada’s largest retail and food distributing companies, ITWAL Ltd., has also come under scrutiny for anti-competitive behavior. The charges, which have been leveled at top-tier executives, are serious and carry prison and/or fine penalties.

Here’s the question: does price-fixing north of the border matter? Especially when it involves companies whose products many of us consider beneath us, even in a moment of confectionary desperation?

Yes, it matters.

For one thing, crime committed at any corporate level affects all of us. It affects the price we pay for what we need and want.

It’s an affront to anyone who actually obeys the law, and figures any high-flying executive making a seven-figure salary ought to be doing the same thing.

It makes your eyes roll to the back of your head when the company spokesperson says something like “we plan to vigorously defend ourselves against these charges” while stating on their website that the price-fixing allegations go back to 2007, all the while knowing that one of the companies involved is already cooperating with authorities in order to get lenient treatment in court.

It’s petty to artificially play with the price of chocolate. It’s not like the good stuff isn’t already pricey enough. You’re not fooling any of us by raising the price of the cheap crap, anyway. True connoisseurs know better.

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And speaking of the good stuff: two bars I found in Toronto. Neither Canadian, but you’ll love them anyway:

Valrhona El Pedregal Porcelana 64%: The name of this bar sounds impressive, pedigreed and regal. And it smells the same way even before you open it. This is an Oh, My! bar. Period. Floral, fruit, wine and cocoa are all balanced perfectly. This is the bar that makes other bars jealous.

Valrhona Ampamakia 64%: A single plantation bar that’s singular in its excellence. What it lacks in the floral and wine notes of El Pedregal, it makes up for in cocoa. Considering that both are 64%, this one is sweeter, with more bitter notes and a slight lemon ting.

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