Peeps maker quietly divests Cémoi - a blow to Just Born’s chocolate business?

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Peeps Delights contributes partly to Just Born's chocolate business. Pic: CN
Peeps Delights contributes partly to Just Born's chocolate business. Pic: CN

Related tags: Cémoi, Confectionery products

Peeps maker, Just Born Quality Confections, has quietly divested French premium chocolate brand Cémoi, a move that might undermine the company’s reentry into the US chocolate scene.

Russian immigrant Sam Born started Just Born as a chocolate company in 1915 in Brooklyn. But over the past decades, it has evolved to become a sugar confectioner, manufacturing brands such as Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales in addition to Peeps.

In 2003, Just Born reentered the chocolate category by acquiring Philadelphia-based Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, as it saw the chocolate segment is twice as large as non-chocolate, according to Matt Pye, the company’s senior VP of sales and marketing.

The company later became the US sales force behind Cémoi in 2016​, and even attempted to create a joint venture with a vision of owning the chocolate brand in the future, ConfectioneryNews previously reported.

“Partnering with Cémoi sort of got back to our roots,”​ Pye said earlier.

‘We have different interests…’

Pye did not specify when Just Born officially divested Cémoi, but said, “our arrangement with Cémoi was to represent them and help build the brand for them here in the US… We eventually parted ways based on changes in strategy at both companies,”

He added all Cémoi products in the US had been imported from France until the brand purchased Pittsburgh-based Chris Candies last year.

According to a Cémoi employee, who declined to be named, the divestment actually occurred about a year and half ago. If that’s the case, the partnership between Cémoi and Just Born only lasted for a few months.

“We have different interests, and we play in different categories,”​ said the source. Cémoi is known for its single-origin chocolate bars, while Just Born has a strong focus on seasonal confections.

The source noted Cémoi has hired brokers across the US since it separated from Just Born, hoping to enter “more upscale type of stores carrying premium chocolate bar sets”​ this year.

“[Cémoi is] setting up the right distributors and is slowly building the business… Our vision is simple: presenting our products to the accounts that make the most sense to us,”​ added the source.

What about Just Born’s chocolate portfolio?

Without Cémoi, only 5% to 7% of Just Born’s overall sales come from its chocolate portfolio, according to Pye.

He said, “we’ll continue to focus and build our chocolate business with our Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews brand and our Peeps Delights line.”

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