Toblerone drops iconic design due to rules on ‘Swissness’

Mondelez International, owner of the Toblerone brand, is having to change the globally renowned chocolate’s packaging as it moves production from Switzerland to Slovakia.

It is stripping images of Switzerland’s famed Matterhorn and the Swiss flag from the packaging to comply with “Swissness” legislation, to conform with strict rules in Switzerland about how products qualify for the coveted “Swissness” moniker — perceived by some as a standard of quality.

The chocolate bar, made of honey and almond nougat, is distinctive for its triangular “peak” shape that evokes a mountain range and matching triangular packaging — sold in scores of countries and duty-free shops around the globe.

“The redesign of the packaging introduces a modernised and streamlined mountain logo that is consistent with the geometric and triangular aesthetic,” Mondelez spokeswoman Livia Kolmitz said.

The 4,478m-high mountain, the nearly symmetrical pyramidal peak of which mirrors the shape of the almond-and-honey-laced chocolate bar, will be replaced with a more generic Alpine summit, while the packaging will now read “established in Switzerland”, rather than “of Switzerland”.

Last June, the company announced plans to outsource production of some Toblerone chocolates to Bratislava, the Slovak capital — where wages and the cost of living are far lower than in wealthy, expensive Switzerland.

A law on “Swissness” of products was adopted in 2017 and aims to protect the cachet of Swiss manufacturing. When it comes to foods, two criteria have to be met: at least four-fifths of the raw materials that go into the product have to come from Switzerland, and the processing that gives a product its “essential characteristics” must be carried out in Switzerland.

Toblerone has already been produced in other countries — notably late into the last century. The treat was invented 115 years ago by Swiss confectioner Theodor Tobler, with the brand name a fusion of the family name and the Italian word “torrone” — nougat.

Mondelez has already run into blowback from its changes to Toblerone in the past. A move years ago to widen the gaps between the chocolate peaks — reducing the weight of the bars but keeping the price the same, known as “shrinkflation” — fanned outrage in Britain, where the change mostly took effect. The bar reverted to its original shape in 2018.

Source: Associated Press, The Guardian

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