A Dutch company which started life as a seller of fine wines is set to launch an innovative confectionery product into the retail sector for the first time.
The Chocotelegram - milk chocolate squares marked with letters, numbers or signs allowing consumers to literally 'say it with chocolate' - has been available in Belgium and the Netherlands since 1997, but only via mail order through the website of brand owner Felicivin.
But the success of the product - which is a popular gift for occasions such as Mothers' Day, St Valentine's Day, Christmas or birthdays - has prompted the company to roll out the Chocotelegram in the retail trade.
The brand will focus on specialist confectionery shops, gift shops and any other stores which stock premium gift items, and Felicivin has developed a new premium package design for the product.
The Chocotelegram is available in three different sizes featuring 24, 32 or 44 chocolate squares, and the recommended retail price is €9.95. A miniature version of the product, featuring just nine chocolate pieces, is currently being trialled in the retail trade.
Guido Frijns, retail account manager at Felicivin, told FoodandDrinkEurope.com that the company was hoping to find partners throughout the world, both to sell the product and even to manufacture it under licence. "We are currently carrying out extensive market research in the UK and the US to assess our chances of marketing the Chocotelegram there," he said.
The decision to launch the product into the retail trade was only taken three months ago, Frijns said, but negotiations are already at an advanced stage with a number of retailers in the Netherlands and Germany, as well as with potential distributors in the UK and US.
He did not give any indication as to which companies are considering selling the product, or whether it would eventually be made available through the general food retail trade.
The company is setting its sights high. "We already sell 30,000 Chocotelegrams each year in the Netherlands alone simply through online orders, and we naturally expect a much greater number once we roll out the product in other countries where the population is larger and where the retail opportunities are far broader," said Frijns, although he declined to comment on actual sales targets.
Felicivin is a family-owned company started 15 years ago as a mail order supplier of fine wines. Since then it has expanded into the wider mail order gift market, with many of its products offering the possibility of personal messages.