MilkBoy: ‘We're bringing back Swiss chocolate to the U.S.’

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

MilkBoy: A Swiss chocolate brand made with pine tree oil and alpine milk eyes U.S. premium market
MilkBoy: A Swiss chocolate brand made with pine tree oil and alpine milk eyes U.S. premium market

Related tags Dark chocolate Switzerland

Startup chocolate firm MilkBoy is hoping to storm the U.S. premium market with Swiss-made chocolate using regional flavors such as pine tree oil.

The company, set up half a year ago by third-generation chocolate maker Emmanuel Schmerling, believes it can recapture a lost tradition of producing Swiss-made chocolate for the U.S.

Swiss chocolate making tradition

"If you walk today in most stores in the U.S. you are going to have a very hard time of finding a chocolate actually made in Switzerland,” ​Schmerling told ConfectioneryNews at the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.

"We position ourselves as an actual Swiss-made chocolate...Lindt has actually moved away from that, Lindt today pretty much manufactures all their chocolate here in the U.S…​.We're bringing back Swiss chocolate to the U.S.”

Specialty retailers

MilkBoy produces milk and dark chocolate in Switzerland using ingredients such as pine tree oil from the Swiss Alps and milk from alpine pastures. The U.S. is already its biggest market and it hopes to grow in specialty stores throughout the country.

"It's not a Walmart product, but the mass premium market is definitely a place we want to be in,”​ said Schmerling, adding that U.S. consumers could be drawn to a product that has a strong story and contains UTZ Certified cocoa and natural ingredients. "These trends are very strong in the U.S.,"​ he said.

Emmental cheese brand

milkboy ceo
MilkBoy CEO Emmanuel Schmerling presented his chocolate brand at the Summer Fancy Food Show and at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in the U.S.

Schmerling left his family’s food business Schmerling AG in December 2014 to establish his own chocolate brand.

Schmerling AG was active in chocolate and cheese, which inspired the MilkBoy founder to explore a combination of Swiss milk and chocolate. He acquired the MilkBoy brand from a maker of emmental cheese.

“I knew a cheese maker in the Emme valley where emmental cheese comes from and the reason why Swiss emmental cheese is famous is because in that area they have the milk boys who take the cows up on the alpine pastures and they stay the whole summer there,”​ said Schmerling.

Schmerling hopes the story of dairy farmers rearing their cattle in the plush alpine pastureland will help capture consumers’ imaginations and he has appointed a Swiss artist to create a Swiss Alps design on MilkBoy chocolate packaging.

Breathing in Swiss Alps with pine tree oil

But the company faced a challenge. “We have a brand called MilkBoy and the story is about the milk, but everybody says dark chocolate is a big trend these days so how can we reconcile the story of milk with dark chocolate?" ​Schmerling said.

"We came up with the idea of taking pine tree oil because the pine tree is very prevalent in the Swiss Alps and putting that into the dark chocolate and you get a very unique taste - a very light, earthy taste with a little hint of mint at the end as if you breathe in the Swiss Alps. This is our number one seller today."

The brand is currently selling in Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland and Schmerling relocated to the U.S. last summer to setup a sales office in Brooklyn, New York.

The company is hoping to gain traction in specialty retailers in the U.S. "From my previous experience with chocolate, I was in charge of exports and the U.S. was our number one export market,”​ said Schmerling. "Our main focus is here - Switzerland is a very small country so potential there is limited."

Related topics Manufacturers Chocolate Premium

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