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Sweets & Snacks Expo 2017

Russell Stover launches first sugar-free chocolate line sweetened with stevia extract

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Douglas Yu

By Douglas Yu+

08-Jun-2017
Last updated on 08-Jun-2017 at 16:37 GMT2017-06-08T16:37:59Z

The chocolates are the company’s first products sweetened with stevia extract. Photo: Russell Stover
The chocolates are the company’s first products sweetened with stevia extract. Photo: Russell Stover

Russell Stover has unveiled a sugar-free chocolate line at the recent Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago. 

The new varieties, including mint patties, pecan delights, peanut butter cups and coconut, will be available in three-ounce peg bags and 10-ounce lay-down bags, featuring white packaging with larger images of the individual candy pieces, according to the company. All of them will be available in mass, drug and grocery stores across the US.  

The packaging was designed for added appetite appeal and a stronger presence at retail, according to the firm.

Aligning with changing consumer tastes

Russell Stover spent about two years developing the products, CEO and president of the company, Andreas Pfluger, told ConfectioneryNews.

“Lindt has its own distribution, but from a quality and chocolate making point of view, the influence of Lindt is obvious.” - Andreas Pfluger.

The chocolates are the company’s first products sweetened with stevia extract, reflecting changing consumer tastes and preferences for sugar-free sweeteners.

“By introducing recipes that are in line with changing consumer tastes and sensibilities, Russell Stover is reinvigorating the sugar-free product line and extending our leadership in the category,” Pfluger said.

“Most people won’t be able to tell the difference between the sugar-free chocolates and our regular chocolates."

Largest brand in US sugar free chocolate candy

Lindt acquired Russell Stover , which has traditionally been a US gifting and seasonal chocolate business, in 2014, and repositioned it as an everyday brand by launching chocolate bites, minis, snacking bark and individually wrapped pieces in bags, this site previously reported.

Pfluger said Russell Stover’s business has been performing well since the acquisition, and it is currently 'the number one sugar-free chocolate brand in the US'.

“Lindt has its own distribution, but from a quality and chocolate making point of view, the influence of Lindt is obvious,” he added.

Russell Stover’s sugar-free chocolate candy posted total dollar sales of nearly $84m, making it the largest brand in the US sugar-free chocolate candy market, followed by Hershey, and Lily’s Sweets, according to IRI data that includes total US multi-outlet with c-stores for the last 52 weeks ending Oct. 2, 2016.

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