Honesty and Transparency
Monday 1st October 2012
There has been some discussion in the food blogger community about a company called 'Chocolate by Genevie’ most of which revolved around Helen of Fuss Free Flavours posting an expose on the claims the company was making – we have a lot of respect for Helen for doing this.
Chocolate by Genevie wrote to 100 bloggers offering to send chocolates to anyone who wanted to review them and also offering the added sweetener of comp prizes - no faults there in terms of how to get bloggers on side. On receiving the chocolates, Helen and one other blogger became suspicious about the claims made by the company - handmade? By Genevie? Did she even exist, the photo of her was a stock photo bought from an image library. Helen posted her doubts here . Chocolate by Genevie posted a response and changed their story. Excuses were made about why they'd actually purchased the chocolates from Belgium - due to the huge demand from the bloggers. Three other negative blog posts appeared – you can find links to them at the bottom of Helen’s post.
So, just to recap, they set up their company and website but then realised they couldn't supply the demand for their chocolates and so completely changed their offering and now buy ready made chocolates from Belgium instead.
Chocolate Week ordered some of the chocolates and when they arrived there's no doubt that they're mass produced and machine made. Also suspicious is the May 2013 best before date yet no preservatives in the ingredients list, are they not communicating the full list of ingredients or are they being duped by the ‘artisan’ manufacturers?
Following Helen’s post they initially changed their site to read ‘handmade in Belgium’, clearly they're not. They’ve now changed their story again and handmade has been removed. Chocolate by Genevie claim they’re ‘made to order’ which is fairly ambiguous. The company has denied that they re-package. They've admitted that they're being made by an 'artisan' chocolate maker in Belgium but that they're not repackaging them which is frankly confusing. If they’re not re-packaging then what are they doing – just putting them in the post?
Despite all these changes on the website, the Twitter handle (@GenevieChocolat) – which seems to only tweet links to competitions - continues to add to myth with the bio “UK Chocolatier and mum of two”.
Also worth noting that Judith of Mostlyaboutchocolate posted a comment on Chocolate by Genevie's blog post suggesting they send samples to the top chocolate bloggers - as yet none of them have received anything.
The ‘Chocolate by Genevie’ blog is out-dated and has a number of inaccuracies that make us doubt whether they really know about chocolate. Is Belgium and Swiss chocolate really the best in the world? It's debatable and more down to production and quality of beans than country of manufacture - most of our top chocolatiers are using French and Italian chocolate as their couverture. In their 'Different types of Chocolate' blog post they have a definition for 'sweet chocolate' and 'bittersweet chocolate' both of which evidently have a percentage of chocolate liqueur in - I think they mean chocolate liquor which is completely different and is not an alcohol. I'm guessing all their information is cut and pasted from other sites and then misinterpreted.
I feel uneasy about exposing a new company but the whole thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I can't help but feel that Chocolate by Genevie are jumping on the band wagon of an industry that has grown due to some extremely talented, creative chocolatiers who work extraordinarily hard. One of our objectives with Chocolate Week is to promote more honesty and transparency in the industry - the fact that chocolate is made by chocolate producers, not by the chocolatiers for example. So apologies to Chocolate by Genevie but there were initially too many untruths and there are now too many excuses and too many ambiguous claims by someone who continues to remain anonymous. If you'd like to get in touch to set the record straight do email me on Kate at chocolateweek.co.uk