“We are seeing a consumer trend of more dark chocolate consumption, and that offers an excellent opportunity as we look at our own dark chocolate portfolio,” said Jennifer Podhajsky, Vice President and General Manager, U.S. Chocolate Category, The Hershey Company.
The company pointed to a study by the Hartman Group, which found that the number of Americans eating dessert after dinner had climbed 5% since 2009, and 78% of the treats eaten included chocolates.
Hershey said that US consumers had increasingly traded-up for premium dark chocolate since 2009. It said dark chocolate sales had grown consistently faster than the overall chocolate segment at 7.7%, with sales now up to $1.3bn.
The company claimed to lead the US dark chocolate market with five of the top ten leading brands, including York Peppermint Pattie, Brookside Dark Chocolate and Hershey’s Special Dark Semi-Sweet and Dark Chocolate.
Hershey is hoping to attract new consumers to the category with lower cacao options, but it also makes chocolates with up to 82% cacao.