Haribo pulls "racist" liquorice after complaints

German sweet manufacturer Haribo will stop producing blackface liquorice sweets after Swedish customers protested on social media, complaining that the sweets play on racist stereotypes.

"I understand the criticism and think it's important to listen to consumers," Haribo's CEO in Sweden, Ola Dagliden, told Swedish news site Nyheter 24.

The liquorice pieces that caused offence can be found in the bags of sweets called Skipper Mix.

"This product has existed for many years and it's based on a story about a sailor who sails around the world collecting souvenirs like coins and masks from different parts of the globe," Dagliden explained.

The first criticisms were raised in December, with members of the public complaining that some of the masks were based on racist caricatures of different ethnic groups.

"Comments started appearing in social media and after that we decided to remove those pieces from the production line," said Dagliden, who has been the CEO of Haribo for three and half months. He added that it is "unnecessary" to sell the sweets if people find them offensive.

Haribo will continue to sell the Skipper Mix bags, but they will no longer contain the liquorice pieces that caused offense in Sweden.

Previously, the Swedish Centre Against Racism successfully lobbied for ice cream company GB to pull its ice cream Nogger Black from the shelves. Three years later, in 2008, Finish sweet manufacturer Fazer had to change the logo of its liquorice line since members of the EU Parliament thought it was discriminatory. The logo featured a black face with curly hair and red lips. In 2011, Fazer also had to change the design of a chocolate called Kina, meaning China, since the cartoon face on the cover was deemed racist.