Baron Chocolatier aims to rengage Millennials with US premium chocolate offer
The company - which produces chocolate for tennis star Maria Sharapova's Sugarpova brand - recently hosted ConfectioneryNews at its headquarters in Illinois.
Baron said it was hoping to target Millennial consumers that have moved away from the premium chocolate category with a new line: 5 Bites. The firm also said it plans to move a larger headquarter facility in the US ahead of expansion in Mexico and the UK.
Its new 5 Bites chocolate bars come in three flavors, including peanut butter, milk chocolate mousse and creamy caramel, each retailing for $1. The bars are non-GMO, certified Kosher and trans fat free.
Millennials demand for natural ingredients
Baron’s general manager, Christopher Mattina, said that the premium chocolate market had grown 14% to 15% year-on-year since 2013, but added: “At some point, it’s sort of peaking a bit, because there’s no new consumer that’s coming into the category.”
He claimed that hadn't been anything really new in the premium chocolate category for some time, which had driven Millennials away from the sector.
“Our price is so affordable, and that’s frankly another key component to attract Millennials," said the general manager.
“They definitely read ingredients, and they are not looking for anything that has artificial ingredients in it… GMO-free or non-GMO is also a big push we’ve seen nationally today," he continued.
Expansion plan: Brexit might help enhance business
Originally from Poznan, Poland, the second generation owner of Baron, Tomasz Kotas, moved the chocolate company’s headquarters to the US around six years ago. The firm today produces a wide range of chocolate formats, including tablets and eggs. Its chocolate products are bean-to-bar and made with natural ingredients.
Baron is expanding its global footprint by pitching its products to other international markets, including the company's home nation, said Mattina.
“Our major export markets are the Middle East, India and Pakistan. We are also getting a lot of enquiries from South America,” he said. “We’re currently in the process of launching at major retailers in Mexico.”
Baron’s export business contributes to 10% of the company’s profit, and it is expected to enter the UK market as well this year.
“I think Brexit will enhance our business, particularly in the UK” Mattina said. “As their currency value continues to decline, that makes our affordable brand even more attractive.”
Baron has its headquarters at a 30,000-square-foot facility at Vernon Hills, IL. The company is looking for a new site of around 100,000 square feet in the nearby area to support its business growth.
The facility move is anticipated to complete by the end of 2016.