Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Different Brands, Same Chocolate.

Can you see the difference? 

Notice anything about the two chocolate bars in the picture on the left?  Do they look alike? The layout on the package, the images, the colour scheme...all very similar.

I purchased these chocolate bars at different times.  One, the Hageland, was tucked away in my cupboard for a few months until I recently came across the Cachet chocolate bar.  I noticed right away that the packaging of the two bars were very similar.  Then I compared them side-by-side.  And I compared the ingredients list and they too are the same (see below for the ingredients lists).  One of the few differences is that Cachet's label was written for the Canadian market and Hageland's was written for the American market (i.e. the word 'flavor' vs 'flavour').

Everything about these two chocolate bars is the same.  The inner foil wrap is the same and so is the chocolate bar mold.  Even the taste is the same.  So my conclusion?  It is the SAME CHOCOLATE sold under different brand names and intended for different markets (i.e. the Canadian vs U.S. market in this case).  The only strange thing is that the description written on the back of the package (about Uganda being the source of the forastero cocoa beans used) is exactly the same.  This indicates to me the same marketing team, which may also mean the same company who made the packaging?  

So what I found on the Internet is that the Hageland trademark is owned by Kim's Chocolates, who also own's the Cachet brand. Although Hageland has a different website entirely and there seems to be no tie to Cachet or Kim's on the Hageland website, I found the name of the trademark owner on Justia.com (http://trademarks.justia.com/776/97/hageland-77697468.html)  that has listings of trademark owners.  I'm not sure why Kim's Chocolates decided to go with a name other than Cachet in the American market.  Cachet is a perfectly good name, but perhaps us Canadians are more used to the pronunciation of a name with a French origin (since a good number of us are part-French Canadian).  Perhaps in the U.S., more often than not it would be pronounced as "catch-it".  It is just funny because our two countries are so close together and there is so much exposure of products from the U.S. to Canada (not as often the other way around), so why not just choose one name and promote the heck out of it here in North America?

The more chocolate that I buy, especially when I am border-crossing to the U.S. (which I have done a lot of in past years), the more I have been finding the same chocolate packaged in different wrappers. Unlike in this case, different companies are promoting the exact same chocolate bars under their own brands, and purchasing the chocolate from the same chocolate manufacturer in Europe - who is kind enough to place each company's outer label on the chocolate bars.   

On the Left: the Hageland Chocolate Bar. 
On the Right: the Cachet Chocolate Bar.
 I am not sure if I feel that this is wrong or right.  Having a degree or two in business studies, I can easily see the business benefits for both the manufacturer and the company promoting the product under their own name. For the manufacturer, it is a great way to get their product on store shelves worldwide, while not having to incur the cross-country/continent expansion costs, develop contacts, worry about labelling requirements, etc. For the company who is marketing it under their own brand, they benefit from not learning the manufacturing process or buying equipment to get that job done.  
My only issue is when I see the same chocolate bars in the same store.  I have seen this once before, where both brands were on display on the same wall, with the exact same line-up of flavours: espresso, mint, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, extra dark chocolate, etc. So I bought a bunch of bars, only to get home and realize as I read the ingredients and pulled off the outer wrap, that they were the exact same chocolate bars.  I think this was an accident and the actual retail-owner had not even realized it. One brand was intended for the U.S. market, and technically should not have been sold in that store. But I, as a consumer, felt like I was somehow fooled. One of the brands, which is a favourite of mine (which is why I am not naming names), well I had always thought they made the chocolate themselves, or at least that it was exclusive to them.  So I was surprised to learn that they were simply outsourcing this to a manufacturer who was also selling the same chocolate bars to other companies. But I have since forgiven them, and have realized that their goal is not to make the chocolate themselves, but instead to promote ethical practices in the world of chocolate.

So all that said, I just thought this was a very interesting topic to bring up.  The next time you open the wrapper of a chocolate bar you have never tried before, and yet it seems oddly familiar to you, keep in mind that you may have actually tasted it before, only under a different brand name. 
As for taste of the Uganda bar by both Cachet and Hageland, it is good.  There is low acidity, which I think might be needed with an 80% since it is so bitter (I am still just getting used to my week of only eating +80% dark chocolate, so low acidity is good). There is also no gross artificial flavour, thanks to Kim's Chocolates for using natural vanilla in their recipe.
If you have found any two chocolate bars that are the same, but sold under a different brand, please feel free to discuss it in the Comments below!

Please stay tuned for a crunchy truffle recipe using these Hageland & Cachet chocolate bars as part of my `month unsweetened` and my Diaries of a Girl Gone Dark and Bitter. I will post it in the next few days.

Here are the details on the two chocolate "brands" that I tasted today:

Hageland Limited Selection "Uganda" 80% Dark Chocolate forastero, 100 g (3.5oz)
Made in Belgium
Imported by: SCO KOLADEN, LLC (Hayward, CA, USA)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla (nat. flavor). Chocolate: cocoa solids min. 80%.  May contain traces of tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, eggs, milk and wheat.

CACHET Premium Belgian Chocolate, Limited Origin Selection "Uganda" 8-% Dark Chocolate, 100 g (3.5 oz)
Imported by: Premier Brands (Toronto, ON, Canada)
Made in Belgium by Kim's Chocolates
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla (nat. flavour). Chocolate: cocoa solids min. 80%. May contain traces of nuts, peanuts, soybeans, eggs, milk and gluten.  


  1. The Hägeland brand was developed to be used for Walmart only. In the rest of the US market, we sell those products under our Cachet brand, same as in Canada.

    I hope this answers your questions.

    1. Ahhhh....that explains it and it makes sense! Good job on getting the Walmart deal!

  2. I have been buying Hageland dark chocolate and dark chocolate with almonds for several years. Today, to my shock, I learned that Walmart has discontinued selling these products in the Albuquerque, New Mexico stores and stores in surrounding communities. (I live in Belen, NM).

    I feel that Walmart has betrayed me.

    1. That's too bad. Maybe you can look around for the Cachet brand, as was mentioned in the above comments if you really like the Hageland dark chocolate.

    2. Hi Reynold, I work for the company that imports this from Belgium and the good news is that it has just arrived via containership this week and will hopefully cycle through the Wa-mart warehouses and hit the shelves within the next two weeks. The shape of the bar will be different as will the packaging. The bars will be slightly smaller and the price is being reduced to reflect that. That being said, keep you eyes open, it is coming!!!
      ps, I don't have a profile set up, that is why this is coming from Anonymous...

  3. Lizabeth:

    As a chocolate fanatic, do you have favorites in the 80% or higher class of chocolate bar? I have been hooked by the Uganda 80%, but until/unless it comes back to Walmart, I will need to look for something else.


    1. Hi! I liked Raaka's 85% dark chocolate (see this post: http://www.ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2012/01/diaries-of-girl-gone-dark-and_12.html) and I enjoyed Green & Black's 85%, or Camino or Equal Exchanges 80% Panama Dark bars. If you are okay with something a bit below 80%, Bonnat's Puerto Cabella 75% chocolate bar is an all-time favourite (see the bottom of this post: http://www.ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2012/01/price-of-chocolate.html for more info on this Bonnat chocolate bar). I hope this helps!

  4. I was extremely disappointed when Walmart stopped carrying the Uganda 80% and the pear and almond dark chocolate bars. Nothing else I've tried taste as good as these two bars. Where else can you buy these dark chocolate bars??

  5. You will find the pear & almond at Whole Foods Markets under their own brnad, together with 5 other flavors, all to die for!!!

  6. will hageland premium belgian dark chocolate with 53% cacao. can you make chocolate ganache out of it.i dont understand the % 0f the chocolate the higher % or the lower.please help me to understand because i want my ganache nice, smooth and shinny.

    1. Hi Monica, Yes, you can make ganache out of the 53% bar if you want. Just heat up 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cream and pour it over the broken up pieces of the bar (it would be better if you have two or three 100 gram /3.5 oz bars) and stire until smooth. Be sure to add 1 tablespoon of corn syrup to get a smooth shine to it. If you have three bars that are about 3 to 3.5 oz each (about 80 to 100 grams), go with 3/4 cup of cream. Heat to boiling point and pour over the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of corn syrup in order to get a shiny ganache. Immediately pour over a cake to keep the shine. If you let it set on the counter for 8 hours, you can then whip it a bit and spread it with a knife or spatula, but you will lose the shine. I hope this helps!

  7. Where can I buy the Cachet Uganda 80% in San Francisco bay area?

  8. Grocery Outlet had some a couple of weeks ago.

  9. Does the cocoa in this chocolate bar actually come from Uganda? Is this a Fair Trade product? So many questions...

  10. I just discovered Hägeland at Walmart this past month while looking for Merci chocolates. I was very impressed by the chocolate, which came in very large packaging at a very low price. I went back the following week and bought several more bars because it was THAT good.

    Unfortunately, I bought this while on business trips and that particular Walmart is 4 hours away in the middle of no where. I truly hope Walmart continues to carry this chocolate. Perhaps the person who works for the company can chime in?

  11. I believe that the Zoet brand of Belgian chocolate sold in Hy Vee grocery stores in the U.S. are also manufactured by Kim's chocolates.

  12. As I am reading through this blog and comments I must add that it seems as though Walmart has officially discontinued stocking Hageland. Is there a new plan to stock Cachet? Would love to know. It is my go to chocolate now and nothing else compares. Looking for Cachet....any suggestions as to a reliable source? Thanks!

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