Vermont Nut Free Chocolates plans move to new factory; targets beyond 4 million people with nut allergies

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Vermont Nut Free Chocolates' new factory more than doubles the size of its current one.  Pic: Vermont Nut Free Chocolates
Vermont Nut Free Chocolates' new factory more than doubles the size of its current one. Pic: Vermont Nut Free Chocolates
Vermont Nut Free Chocolates will move to a new factory in September 2018 as the business is expected to outgrow its current production.

The company currently manufactures peanut and tree nuts-free chocolates as well as gourmet products in novelty shapes, chocolate-covered pretzels and granola bars for mostly northeastern US retailers.

Mark Elvidge, president and CEO of the Vermont-based chocolate firm, said, “we’re in Grand Isle, Vermont, right now… and we were looking for a space that’s more efficiently designed and laid out all in one level [instead of the existing two-leveled building].”

Pic: Vermont Nut Free Chocolates

The new site, located in Colchester, VT, was originally a furniture store, and it is 17,500 square feet – more than doubling the size of Vermont Nut Free Chocolate’s current factory, according to Elvidge.

The company is inspecting and redesigning the building to ensure a nut-free production environment, said Elvidge.

He added there will be a retail store built to the factory. “[Colchester] is a more densely populated area. We’ll probably have more retail store traffic… and hopefully a bigger pool of employees to pull when we need additional help,”​ said Elvidge.

“We’re going to add an enrobing line and double the speed of our existing enrobers, so we are going to grow [our production volume] quite significantly for some time to come,”​ he continued.

Targeting beyond nut-free consumers

Although Vermont Nut Free Chocolates primarily targets consumers having nut allergies, which represent only 1% of the overall US population, Elvidge said, “our products are known for their quality and other people can also enjoy them.

“Our market is beyond that niche group we primarily serve – four million people in the US having nut allergies… because a lot of schools, after-school programs, day cares and sport teams eat nut-free products as well,”​ he added.

Continue e-commerce business

Vermont Nut Free Chocolates started as a mail order business 20 years ago. But now, e-commerce accounts for 60% of its overall sales, and the company plans to grow that channel moving forward, Elvidge told ConfectioneryNews.

“We recently engaged a new sales marketing coordinator to work on our web business, the email campaigns and some of the digital and social media,”​ he said.

“What’s nice about e-commerce is when a retail partner agrees to list our products, we’re able to effectively drive traffic to their stores.”

However, Elvidge expects the biggest growth will come from wholesale and direct-to-store purchases in coming years.

“In 2018, we want a 25% growth,” ​he said.