The US market for natural and organic chocolate increased rapidly last year, with two brands in particular driving growth - Newman's Own Organics and Endangered Species Chocolate Company, according to the latest supermarket sales data compiled by natural products industry specialists, SPINS.
"The tremendous growth of the natural and organic candy category in 2002 is yet another indication of the continued groundswell occurring in the natural products industry. The growth of the Endangered Species brand shows the natural product consumer's dedication to improved health and great tasting products, and highlights the greater potential of the industry to have a lasting positive effect on the socio-political environment worldwide," commented Jeff Nibler, SPINS' vice president and general manager.
Jon Stocking, founder and president of the Endangered Species Chocolate Company, attributed the meteoric rise of his products - gourmet organic Belgian-style chocolate with all-natural ingredients - to a growing consumer trend.
"The SPINS report just confirms what we've known for several years. Consumers want all-natural, organic products without sacrificing good taste. What we are doing is bridging the gap between organic and gourmet, demonstrating that a responsible company can produce a delicious product."
From its foundation in 1993, Stocking has donated 10 per cent of the company's net profits to organisations around the world whose mission is to protect endangered animals and their habitat.
According to the year-end SPINS data, the Endangered Species Chocolate Company held on to its number two position for the second consecutive year, further cementing the company's marketplace position and narrowing the gap between itself and Newman's Own Organics.
According to SPINS, the increase in the company's market share represents a sales growth of 34.2 per cent over the previous year and approximately $2.5 million in sales. Based on data from other sources, Stocking said that the company also experienced a 35 per cent growth in overall sales nationwide for all markets combined.
SPINS' retail sales data is gathered from point-of-sale scanning systems at natural products supermarkets including Wild Oats, Whole Foods and leading regional chains, co-ops and independents throughout the US.
The Endangered Species Chocolate Company sells 16 different 3-ounce Endangered Species Chocolate Bars in milk, dark or white chocolates and a combination of flavours. The company also produces Bug Bites, bite-sized pieces of organic milk and dark chocolate containing almost 100 collectible cards featuring some of the world's most interesting insects, and Chimp Mints featuring 40 chimpanzees from the Jane Goodall Gombe Research Centre in Africa. The company produces 30,000 chocolate bars and 100,000 Bug Bites and Chimp Mints each day.