Why Toblerone Is Dropping a Famous Swiss Mountain From Its Packaging
Toblerone chocolate will no longer feature the distinctive Matterhorn mountain peak on its packaging in order to avoid violating a Swiss law that protects national symbols, as the brand’s owner shifts some production out of Switzerland.
Mondelez International, the U.S. maker of Toblerone, said in a statement that it had to adapt its packaging to comply with Swiss law, and that it was making changes to its production to meet increased demand. The company will use a new mountain logo that retains a “geometric and triangular aesthetic,” a spokeswoman said, adding that Toblerone bars will continue to be produced in Switzerland as well.
The packaging change was reported earlier by the Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung, which said that Mondelez would begin some production in Slovakia in July.
Under a “Swissness” law, national symbols can be used to promote chocolate only when the milk it contains is sourced exclusively from Switzerland, as well as 80 percent of all other raw materials too. For milk-based products, the processing and manufacturing must also take place in Switzerland, according to the law — the latest version of which came into effect in 2017. There are exceptions for products like cacao, which is grown in humid climates.
The Matterhorn, the Alpine peak that is one of Switzerland’s most famous landmarks, standing at 14,692 feet, has appeared on Toblerone packaging since 1970, according to Mondelez.
David Stärkle, who oversees the enforcement of the Swissness legislation for the Swiss government, said that it would be misleading for Toblerone to continue to include an image of the Matterhorn, a symbol of Switzerland, on its packaging when some of its production was happening outside the country.
He said the goal of the law was for consumers to know that when they purchased Swiss chocolate, the chocolate was, in fact, from Switzerland. “If anyone will use the Matterhorn for whatever, you don’t have any value anymore on Swiss products,” Mr. Stärkle said.
In addition to the removal of the Matterhorn, the wording on Toblerone bars will also have to change. Instead of “Toblerone of Switzerland,” the packaging will say, “Founded in Switzerland.” The Toblerone chocolate bar was created in 1908 by Theodor Tobler, whose father owned a confectionery shop in Bern, Switzerland, in the 1800s.
Mondelez is betting that the savings it achieves by moving some production to a country with lower costs will outweigh any effect the removal of the Matterhorn from packaging will have on demand. But Mr. Stärkle said it could affect the perception of Toblerone chocolate, at least in Switzerland.
“Swiss people are a bit angry and say, ‘That’s not my chocolate anymore,’” he said. “We are really keen about Swiss chocolate, and we’re really proud of it.”
Much of the enforcement work of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, an agency of the federal administration of Switzerland, focuses on cases in Turkey, India and in the United States. The agency’s work is complicated by variations in laws across countries and regions — and the fact that it, of course, cannot enforce its rules outside of Switzerland.
For example, last year, to the disappointment of the Swiss authorities, a U.S. federal judge sided with U.S. cheese producers and ruled that Gruyère could be produced anywhere, not just in Switzerland and France. (Under Swiss law, Gruyère must be made in the region around Gruyères, Switzerland, which has produced the cheese since the 12th century.) On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that Gruyère was a generic term for a variety of cheese.
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