No break for KitKat

In a market where image is just as important as taste, chocolate manufacturer Nestlé has suffered a bitter legal blow

It’s been a bittersweet month for confectionery, with the thorny issue of shape popping up again and again. Hot on the heels of Mondelez International’s pledge to return Toblerone to its original, more generous dimensions – to the relief of legions of outraged fans – Nestlé has suffered a more problematic development.

For 16 years, the food giant has been battling to put four fingers up to its competitors to trademark KitKat’s distinctive trapezoid shape. The company successful obtained the mark in Europe after applying in 2002, but Mondelez mounted a challenge because they wanted to continue producing their own four-finger chocolate treat. 

The argument has raged on for years, but Nestlé has failed to prove that the KitKat shape is distinctive enough to be recognisable in every EU member state, so their appeal has now been thrown out by the European Court of Justice. They just couldn’t get a break…

It might not seem too important in the big scheme of things, but this is a blow for Nestlé because the handy four-finger format was a key part of KitKat’s appeal for many consumers. See, also, the public outcry when the Toblerone re-emerged with less impressive peaks – manufacturers can be just as innovative with their foods’ presentation as they are with ingredients or processes, and the results make a difference to their market.

Are you working on a new food or drink product where presentation plays a practical role in its consumption? We love a foodtech story, so contact the FoodTalk Show team on hello@foodtalk.co.uk to tell us all about it.

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