Sweets & Snacks Expo 2017

Mars-owned Ethel M seeking US national distribution with Amazon and mass retailers

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Ethel M follows the same food and labeling regulations that Mars uses.
Ethel M follows the same food and labeling regulations that Mars uses.

Related tags Premium chocolate Retailing

Ethel M plans to talk to Amazon and mass retailers to bring its chocolate to consumers across the US, ConfectioneryNews learned at the Sweets and Snacks Expo last month in Chicago.

The Mars-owned premium chocolate brand currently sells its products at its brick-and-mortar retailer in Henderson, Nevada, through its own website, and some Bashas’ grocery stores in Arizona.

Ethel M recently renovated its Nevada-based retailer with a $2m investment​, adding a tasting room, demonstration area, and a design-your-own-box counter, this site previously reported.

“Since we remodeled and freshened up our look, we really want to relaunch the brand to the world,”​ Ethel M’s general manager, Oren Young, said. “Right now we’re growing at 15% year-over-year, and our goal is to grow even higher than that.”

“We want to outpace the super premium chocolate category growth, and be a leader in that space,”​ he added.

Pairing with gift cards and wine

Young believes, even though there is a space for premium chocolate in mass stores, there is a play for super premium as well.

Young said premium chocolate products include brands like Dove, Lindt and Godiva, while super premium usually retail for around $2 a piece, such as Ethel M and Lake Champlain Chocolates.


However, when it comes to retail strategy for super premium chocolate, they might not be sitting in the candy aisle or the checkout line, but they could be paired with gift cards and wine in the grocery stores, Young said.

Creating wholesale program

Ethel M also launched a wholesale program to gain national distribution points with three new chocolate varieties, including Las Vegas liqueurs, lemon satin crème, and almond butter krisp. Each 16-piece box retails for $24.99.

“We want to be able to partner with retail customers because we feel that this is a great opportunity to grow,”​ Young said. “But we also have got to work and build programs that are flexible for each customer and their consumers.”

Ethel M is able to customize these chocolate varieties in terms of packaging for retailers in 30 to 60 days, he added.

Following Mars and Wrigley’s policies

Ethel M, which accounts for less than 1% of Mars and Wrigley’s overall business, said it is always part of Mars’ family, and it follows the same food and labeling regulations that Mars uses.

“The thing I love about [being part of Mars] is I can leverage relationships that Mars and Wrigley Confectionery has with customers,”​ Young said.

Mars recently joined Nestlé, Lindt and Ferrero to set goals that include half of their individually wrapped products will be 200 calories or less​ by 2022. Mars is also rolling out new packaging with an upgraded FDA nutrition facts panel.

“Ethel M adheres to all of Mars’ set policies, so we’ve followed suit [with these goals] and we want to be totally on board with everything that’s going on,”​ Young said.

He mentioned that Ethel M’s chocolate in its wholesale program is 200 calories per serving.

“This will move into the new labeling obviously before July next year, so we’re in the process of actually doing an activity match to make that happen,”​ Young added.

Ethel M is expected to triple its business in the next few years.

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