According to fair trade proponents including Ghanaian cooperative Kuapa Kokoo, "Big Chocolate" companies are Kraft (after their purchase of Cadbury plc in March 2010), Mars, Nestlé, and The Hershey Company. Together these companies process about 12% of the world's 3 million tons of cocoa each year.
At the core of the chocolate debate across Europe, parts of Asia and the United States is the definition of chocolate itself, and whether percentages of cocoa in production should render some candies unable to carry the chocolate food definition.
At issue also is the ability to replace cocoa butter or dairy components of chocolate with cheaper vegetable fats or polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), thereby reducing the quantity of actual cocoa in the finished product while creating an arguably more unhealthy confection. Currently the United States, some parts of the European Union and Russia do not allow vegetable fats as ingredients of products labeled as chocolate. The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark allow vegetable fat as an ingredient.
"Big Chocolate" also refers to the political and social effects of a unifying industry. Consolidated buying enables large cocoa users to wield significant impact in economies, many of them poor African nations, that rely on cocoa production as a critical element of foreign trade.
- Swift, Richard (August 1998). "A cocoa farmer in Cadbury's court". New Internationalist. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
- Estis, Wynston (February 2004). "Fair Trade and Chocolate". Willy Street Cooperative. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
- Strott, Elizabeth (2007-03-21). "World chocolate shortage ahead?". MSN Money. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
- "Chocolate wars: Big Chocolate wants to make bars with even less cocoa in them – but not everyone thinks this is a good idea.". New Internationalist. August 1998. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Osborn, Andrew (2003-01-17). "Chocolate war over after 30 years". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "Chocolate – the facts". New Internationalist . Retrieved November 7, 2005. which cites Fair Trade Yearbook, 1994 and Cocoa Newsletter, No 3 for its information on Big Chocolate
- Shelby Biggs, Brooke (2002-02-07). "Slavery Free Chocolate? – With Valentine's Day coming up, the chocolate industry has agreed to fight child slavery on African cocoa farms. Does it mean business, or is Big Chocolate just sweetening its image?". AlterNet.
- "The Chocolate Industry: Who benefits? – Fair Trade versus Mass production" (PDF). Burnholme Community College 2004-03-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 12, 2006. Retrieved November 7, 2005.
- Alanna MacDougall. "The Story of Chocolate and Other Reasons to Consume Responsibly". Human Rights Databank Spring 2003, Vol 9, No. 3 Reports from the Field. Archived from the original on September 4, 2005. Retrieved November 7, 2005. – MacDougall asks "is Big Chocolate to blame for the conditions of global chocolate production?"
- Morone, James A. (May 2005), "Morality, Politics, and Health Policy", Policy Challenges in Modern Health Care: 13–25.
- The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars ISBN 0-7679-0457-5