On the move

Former Theo Chocolate marketing director headed to OCHO Candy

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

OCHO offers a variety of classic candy bar flavors. Pic: OCHO
OCHO offers a variety of classic candy bar flavors. Pic: OCHO

Related tags: Chocolate, Whole foods, Organic, Peanut butter, Marketing, branding, California, Natural flavors, Disruption, Innovation

Todd Kluger joins the organic candy brand as VP of sales and marketing after a decade in a similar role at rice-based snack company Lundberg Family Farms and previously as ‘food transformation’ director at Starbucks.

Kluger brings a relevant background in coffee and confectionery, having spearheaded a strategic marketing plan for Theo Chocolate, one of the first organic and FairTrade bean-to-bar manufacturers in the US.

The move could be a sign that OCHO is ready to, as CEO Scott Kucirek said, take the brand ‘to the next level.’

“Todd has a wonderfully rich background in the organic food space,”​ said Kucirek. “His sales and marketing experience at Lundberg Family Farms – another small, independent company making a high-quality organic product – is particularly well aligned with OCHO’s mission, as is his formative connection with Theo Chocolate Company.”

Hitting the mainstream

In a statement to ConfectioneryNews, Kluger emphasized his experience in ‘creating and launching organic products.’ At Lundberg in particular, he developed advertising and social media strategies for a family-owned company with roots dating back to 1937. Consumers knew Lundberg for its rice products, but today the brand has extended further into snacks – including a recent launch of tortilla chips inspired by street food flavors.

Denis Ring – who led the development and launch of Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value portfolio during his tenure as VP of corporate brands from 1997 to 2003 – created OCHO in 2010 to fill a void in the marketplace for a ‘fun, organic chocolate bar.’

According to OCHO, Ring anxiously awaited a ‘delicious, organic, all-American’ candy bar, but to no avail. Ring used his knowledge of organic product launches to develop OCHO with a promise to use organic ingredients for ‘old-school’ candy bars with ‘new-school common sense.’

OCHO currently produces eight candy bars, including milk chocolate with caramel or peanut butter and dark chocolate with coconut or peppermint. The standard lineup, distributed to 10,000 stores, is available in 1.5oz bars for an RRP of $1.99 or in 0.35oz minis in two sizes (3.5oz, RRP $4.99 and 8oz, RRP $8.99).

In addition to their organic certification, these non-GMO, gluten-free candies are also non-GMO are made from scratch in OCHO’s 25k-square-foot facility in Oakland, California – meaning melting, tempering, filling and packaging all happens in-house.

The company recently launched a peanut butter and jelly flavor, and Kluger said more innovations are on the way.

“We plan on bringing out fun and exciting new items, expanding current distribution, connecting with consumers in an authentic way, and continuing to build a community-focused company that benefits the supply chain from farmers to production," ​he told ConfectioneryNews.