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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

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How ethical and sustainable is KitKat?

KitKat is a brand of Nestlé chocolate that appears in The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Chocolate Ratings Table. Although KitKat has quite a way to go before reaching our ethical standards, we hope to watch the brand progress in the future. There are several research factors that a brand should satisfy to receive Ethical Accreditation from us, and KitKat does well in some of them. But there is still a large amount of room for ethical development. For instance, it is challenging to consider this brand ethical due to its use of genetically modified products. The parent company of KitKat, Nestlé, has publicly acknowledged adopting genetically modified crops, which although encouraging in terms of resource sustainability and environmental responsibility, prompts some scepticism and worries about what consumers are eating.

Nestlé states on its website (in its FAQ section):

Sometimes, yes. We support the responsible use of any innovative, safe technology. We decide whether to use ingredients derived from GMOs at a local level, based on consumer expectations and local regulations. We believe ‘GMO ingredients’ have a potentially important role to play in increasing food production, to support sustainable agriculture and help feed a growing world population. 

We would have more faith in this brand if it applied for Ethical Accreditation, which would enable The Good Shopping Guide to conduct a more comprehensive examination and propose changes for ethical improvement. Although we are aware that this brand still has a lot of room for ESG/ CSR growth, we are optimistic that it will one day earn Ethical Accreditation. Please find out more about the ethical issues faced by the Chocolate sector and see how other brands score in our Ethical Chocolate Ratings Tables.

What does KitKat do and what is its history?

Rowntree introduced Kit Kat as a York-based confectionery firm on August 29, 1935. Kit Kat is currently owned by Nestlé. One of the top chocolate brands in the world, it. Three layers of wafer are used to create Kit Kat’s chocolate bars, which are then covered in an exterior and an inner layer of chocolate.

The Kit Kat club was established in honour of Christopher Catling, who in the 17th century ran a literary and political society out of his pie store in London. The famous phrase “Have a break, have a Kit Kat” was coined by Donald Gillies of the London-based advertising firm JWT. In 1958, this catchphrase was first introduced. It developed into a legitimate advertising emblem over the next 50 years and is now a registered trademark of the company. A hostile takeover attempt by Swiss-based chocolate manufacturer Jacob Suchard against Rowntree was made in April 1988. Nestlé and Rowntree had discussed a cooperative working relationship in the years before Nestlé ultimately purchased the business.

For which criteria does KitKat perform poorly? 

Even though KitKat ranks highly in some categories, there is still a large number of issues yet to be dealt with by the company. These are Animal Welfare, Genetic Modification, availability of Organic products, Public Record criticisms, Political Donations, and availability of Fairtrade products.

In 2018 KitKat changed from a comprehensive Fairtrade Mark to Fairtrade Sugar Program, Fairtrade Cocoa Program, and Fairtrade Vanilla –which means that only those ingredients are fairly traded.  The animal rights NGO, Animal Outlook, released a video called ‘Nestlé’s Nightmare: The Hard-to-Swallow-Truth’, which details the abuse of mother cows and their calves inside Martin Farms, Pennsylvania – a Nestlé supplier. The violent treatment of cows by farm workers includes: chaining the cows up and dragging them behind tractors, splashing boiling water in their faces to force them to move more quickly, and other acts of cruelty.

In what areas does KitKat score well for its ethics?

In crucial Ethical Chocolate research categories like offering Vegetarian and Vegan options, having an Environmental Report, and Armaments, KitKat surpasses our standard. A Vegan chocolate KitKat is now offered by Nestlé. Additionally, KitKat has never been found to profit from Nuclear power.

For more information about KitKat’s ethics and sustainability…

See how other chocolate brands rank in comparison to KitKat for their ethics and sustainability in our Ethical Chocolate Ratings Table. If you are associated with a chocolate brand, company, or product and want to improve or validate your CSR/ ESG and sustainability policies, find out more about how you could apply for Ethical Accreditation here.


Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Genetic Modification


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power



  • Animal Welfare


  • Vegetarian/Vegan Verified



  • Armaments


  • Political Donations


  • Fairtrade



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Public Record Criticisms


  • Public Record Criticisms+


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating