Portrait of a Product Developer…

Monday Nov 15, 2021

Emily Haworth is product developer on the Co-op Group’s confectionery and snack lines. She’s been working on new plastic-free packaging for Co-op chocolates.

As a product developer, she works with the buyer and technical manager to ensure that the Co-op have the correct range for our customers. Are there any gaps in our range? Are we on top of new trends? Is the quality up to scratch? Her friends call her Willy Wonka because she is always tasting chocolates and sweets!

When the Co-op Group are developing new products, she tries them two to three times a week. It’s also important to keep up with everything that is going on in the market.

As a business, the Co-op has been removing plastic from packaging for years. This has been accelerated in 2021, removing 14 tonnes at Easter. For Christmas the group wanted to follow suit, so the packaging for the chocolate truffles is now plastic free, for example. The entire box for the new Luxury Chocolate Collection is made from card and paper – down to the tamper seal, which is usually plastic. So now it’s easy to recycle, and it’s saved 2.5 tonnes of single-use plastic. These changes to product packaging make a real difference in terms of sustainability.

Emily commented “I need to taste new products that we’re developing two to three times a week. My friends call me Willy Wonka!”

She continues…” We also improved the chocolates inside, while we were changing the packaging. The Luxury Chocolate Collection is all Belgian Fairtrade chocolate, hand-finished with a glossy shine and bright colours. They’re like boutique chocolates — beautiful and made with quality ingredients.

We source all our cocoa on Fairtrade terms, and have done since May 2017, when we became the first UK retailer to do so. Every spoonful of cocoa we use, from the chocolate sprinkles on our doughnuts to the chocolate chips in our Irresistible cookies, is benefitting Fairtrade cocoa farmers. This helps to bring around £450,000 a year in Fairtrade Premium to farmers across West Africa and Central America. It’s great knowing we make a difference by supporting Fairtrade and seeing the actual projects that exist thanks to the funds that have been raised.

We’re always thinking about what’s best ethically, and for our customers. We try to reduce sugar where we can, and we’re also looking to increase our range of vegan and Free From products, so even more people can enjoy them.”

Co-op Irresistible Luxury Fairtrade Chocolate Collection, 200g (shown main picture)