Cemoi is a family-owned chocolate company and has been operating for over 200 years. Its products are mostly sold in Europe and are manufactured at 10 plants in France, Just Born’s VP of corporate affairs, Matt Pye, told ConfectioneryNews at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.
Just Born launched multiple new Peeps marshmallow chicks during the past Easter, including the chocolate-dipped fruit flavored Peeps exclusive to Target in the US.
Tapping the chocolate segment growth
Even though Just Born has a formed a reputation in the US confectionery market as a non-chocolate expert, Pye said the company actually started as a chocolate manufacturer back in 1923.
“Our founding father, Sam Born, immigrated from Russia and learned how to make chocolate in France. When he moved to New York City in 1915, he started a candy factory and store in Brooklyn,” he said.
“Partnering with Cemoi sort of got back to our roots.”
Having focused on developing non-chocolate products for decades, Just Born has seen an opportunity in the chocolate market, which is booming mostly as a result of its taste and health benefits, Pye added.
Just Born’s acquisition of Philadelphia-based Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews in 2003 marked the company’s reentry into the chocolate market. Later, the company dipped its marshmallow chicks, bunnies and other shapes into chocolate as well.
“What’s appealing about getting into chocolate is that the chocolate segment is twice as large as the non-chocolate segment in the candy industry,” Pye said. “The premium chocolate brands, such as Lindt, are also doing very well.”
Peanut Chews and Chocolate-dipped Peeps, which make up Just Born’s chocolate sales, only generate 5% to 7% of its overall revenues, Pye said. He hopes the partnership with Cemoi could diversify the company’s portfolio and increase their chocolate sales.
How will Cemoi benefit from the partnership?
Cemoi is the number one chocolate company in France with $2bn sales worldwide, Pye said. It started a US office and distributed small portions of its products to the US market almost four years ago on its own.
“But the US market is very tough, so they were looking for a partner that could really build the Cemoi brand,” Pye said.
From Easter 2017, Just Born will begin to sell Cemoi’s truffle line with three flavors (raspberry, pear and lemon) through its existing mass, drugs and craft stores for $5,99 per box, according to Pye. Just Born will also help develop a hollow chocolate egg line under the Cemoi brand.
“Cemoi’s truffle line is a dusted truffle, which you don’t see very often in the US,” he said. “Our strength is Easter, and we get a fair amount of shelf space during that period of time. So egg-shaped chocolates in particular make sense to our Easter sales. We can help Cemoi build distribution.”
However, Just Born will continue focusing on increasing availability, pack sizes and adding flavors to its non-chocolate brands, including its biggest brand, in terms of dollar sales, Mike and Ike, Pye added.
In addition, Just Born expects to move from the sales agreement to a joint venture where it has ownership in Cemoi in the future, Pye said, but it’s yet to be determined how much of its business Just Born will share.
“We are looking at the long-term success of the Cemoi brand, and we want to go slow, and to do this right.”