The New Zealand Returned Services Association (RSA) has given its official approval and insignia to a special edition of Belgium chocolates to be sold through Foodstuffs New World, PAK’n SAVE and Four Square stores from April. To commemorate the forthcoming centennial of ANZAC Day, a donation from every box sold of ‘Flanders Field Selection’ will be going to the RSA.
Leading European food importing business William Aitken & Co is delighted the RSA has sanctioned this after the Auckland-based company put a proposal to Belgium chocolatier Vandenbulcke to manufacture specially commissioned and marked boxes of commemorative chocolates for New Zealand.
“We have a strong relationship with Vandenbulcke. They’ve been around for almost as long as we have, and are also a family-owned company. We’ve been importing their popular seashell chocolates every Christmas,” says Sales & Marketing manager of William Aitken & Co, Troy Culpitt. “Last time I was over in Belgium I told them we could be interested in some of their popular mint filled Tommy Helmet milk chocolates for the New Zealand market, but we needed to get the RSA’s permission and support first.”
Culpitt says the RSA has been great to work with after he presented his concept to them last year. What’s more William Aitken & Co is delighted that the proceeds will not be insignificant for that organisation. “Our company was very much been shaped by the influences of war. Our founder William Aitken served in World War One, and established our importing company during World War Two. He could see the lack of food availability for Europeans migrating here, as well as a general growing awareness and appreciation of European food from the likes of returning soldiers.
“So for us as a heritage New Zealand FMCG company which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, it made sense for us to work with Vandenbulcke, which has been manufacturing great Belgium chocolates very near the fields of Flanders and Passchendaele since 1949.”
The Tommy Helmet or Tin Helmet is a well-recognised symbol of The Great War. William Aitken & Co is immensely aware of the sacrifices New Zealanders made in Belgium. On the back of each chocolate box the infamous 12 October 1917 Battle of Passchendaele is retold and is noted as New Zealand’s ‘blackest day’ with the remains of thousands of servicemen still resting in Belgium.
Culpitt says the container of the specially commissioned and endorsed ANZAC chocolates is now enroute to Auckland and will be on sale in almost all New World, PAK ‘n SAVE and Four Square stores throughout New Zealand from early April.
“Foodstuffs have been immensely supportive of this project as have the individual stores. I expect they will sell very well. Not only because of the historic significance and exemplary cause, but because of the attractive packaging, the good placement the individual stands will get in store, and the great price point.”
Each box will sell for $6.99 with 50 cents from every box sold to be given to the RSA by William Aitken & Co.
“This is a great price for a quality box of Belgium chocolates with eight generous pieces inside. This year’s a bit of a trial but we’re very confident they’ll be a popular commemorative gift and treat. I suspect they’ll be sold out by ANZAC Day on 25 April. If that’s the case our plan is they’ll be back every April for the remaining three years of the World War One centennial commemorations,” says Culpitt.