The Sweet Spot: 7 Brands That Fit the Premium Chocolate Mold

Chocolate

Not unlike the market strategies of craft brewers, gourmet meat-snack makers and other boutique-style product lines, premium chocolatiers are seeking to become more accessible to wider audiences.

Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts’ new report “Chocolate Candy Market in the U.S., 11th Edition” articulates how premium chocolate brands are doing just that—and it’s reflected in annualized sales growth, which is 5% thanks to new flavor trends, compelling packaging and healthy and organic item introductions.

Dollar sales growth of everyday chocolate, however, is “negligible compared to previous years,” said Packaged Facts.

Everyday chocolate does dominate the overall market for chocolate candy sold at retail, accounting for 82% of industry dollar sales, compared to premium chocolate’s much smaller 18% share. But premium brands are catching fire due to innovation “around product ingredients, especially in clean-label products. The premium segment also leads in charting the path toward new flavor trends,” the report said.

What follows are several brands that are out in front of the premium-chocolate innovation curve. 

G by Godiva

G by Godiva

Godiva is now offering products such as soft-serve ice cream and frozen drinks at its retail boutiques. And it’s keeping its chocolate innovation mojo going with G by Godiva, a collection of superpremium flavors. The selection of Mexican single-origin chocolate bars includes varieties such as Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut, Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Crisp and Dark Chocolate Orange & Ginger, all available for an SRP of $7 per bar.

Lindt Hello Bites

Lindt Hello Bites

Lindt made news in 2014 when it agreed to acquire Russell Stover Candies, plus its launch of the moderately priced Hello line. Lindt Hello Bites are the latest addition to that collection, featuring three flavors: Hello Pretzel Bites, Hello Toffee Bites and Hello Minty Bites. Pretzel Bites are sprinkled with salt and covered in milk chocolate; Toffee Bites are buttery toffee sprinkled with salt and coated in milk chocolate; and Minty Bites feature a soft mint center covered in dark chocolate. 

Comfort & Joy

Packaged Facts reported that premium-chocolate manufacturers are aiming for higher quality presentations. The Comfort & Joy line for the 2016 holiday season comprises six truffle bars that feature chrome-colored photographs printed on foil paper with red foil inner wraps. The flavors include Toffee Sea Salt, Peanut Buddy Crisp, Nutty Nougat Chew, Candy Cane Crunch, Hot Buttered Rum and Holiday Cheer Eggnog.

Zippy Bites

Zippy Bites

One premium-brand innovation focus, according to Packaged Facts, is on “dark chocolate, single origins and inclusions of healthy ingredients, such as lavender, blueberry” and even raspberry. Zippy Bites are rolling out to multiple retail channels, including c-stores. The organic, energy-infused chocolate truffles contain a natural blend of caffeine, amino acids and vitamins. Zippy Bites are available in mint and raspberry flavors for an SRP of $4.99 for a package of two. 

Dark Chocolate Leather

Dark Chocolate Leather

One dark-chocolate option from the makers of the Original Chocolate Leather is Dark Chocolate Leather. Like the original, Dark Chocolate Leather is a twist on traditional dried fruit leather but 45% to 50% lower in sugar and lower in fat and calories than most chocolates, the company says. This 0.5-ounce treat has 60 calories and 2 grams of fat.

Milkboy Swiss Chocolates

Milkboy Swiss Chocolates

Consumers are seeking premium brands with natural ingredients and, to an increasing degree, ethical certification, according to Packaged Facts. Swiss-made Milkboy Swiss Chocolates is a bean-to-bar manufacturer that sources cacao from sustainable farms in West Africa. Milkboy has created Alpine-inspired flavors in dark, milk and white chocolate done in the style of real Swiss chocolate. One variety is Finest Swiss Dark Chocolate 60% Cocoa with essential Pine Tree Oil. 

Peppermint Bark Squares

Peppermint Bark Squares

The premium-chocolate conversation wouldn’t be complete without innovation emanating from a gold-standard bearer: Ghirardelli. Individually wrapped Peppermint Bark Squares, a combination of slow-melting chocolate layers sprinkled with refreshing peppermint, is now available by the case. Also rolling out is Ghirardelli’s chocolate-covered collection: rich, slow-melting chocolate wrapped around three wholesome centers.