A recent study by The Hartman Group on U.S. eating habits reveals that the percentage of Americans savoring dessert after dinner has increased 5 percent since 2009, and 78 percent of treats enjoyed after dinner include chocolates. At the same time, there has been a resurgence in consumers purchasing trade-up and premium dark chocolate since 2009. Dark chocolate represents $1.3 billion in sales within the chocolate segment and is consistently growing faster than the category at 7.7 percent.
“We are seeing a consumer trend of more dark chocolate consumption, and that offers an excellent opportunity as we look at our own dark chocolate portfolio,” said Jennifer Podhajsky, VP and GM of the U.S. chocolate category for The Hershey Co. “Hershey offers a range of dark chocolates to fulfill consumers’ palates and need states across personal consumption and sharing occasions.”
In fact, The Hershey Co. says it has the largest share within dark chocolate and many of its core dark chocolate brands are showing strong growth. Standout U.S. brands for The Hershey Co. include Hershey’s Special Dark Semi-Sweet and Dark Chocolate, Mounds Candy Bar and York Peppermint Pattie. According to Nielsen data, Hershey has five of the 10 largest dark chocolate brands in the U.S.—York Peppermint Pattie, Brookside Dark Chocolate, Hershey’s Special Dark Semi-Sweet and Dark Chocolate, Mounds Candy Bar and Hershey’s Kisses Brand Special Dark Dark Chocolates.
“More consumers are experimenting with dark chocolate, particularly as dessert at home, and Hershey’s varied dark chocolate portfolio provides lower cacao options for those new to dark chocolate ranging all the way up to 82 percent cacao,” said Kristin Harper, director of the Kisses and Hershey’s Bliss brands for The Hershey Co.
As U.S. consumers’ taste for dark chocolate continues to grow, The Hershey Co. is re-energizing its dark brands and responding to the after-dinner treat usage occasion.
Today, the company is hosting an event in New York City highlighting dark chocolate as the new dessert. The company says its dark chocolate offerings are smart, portion-savvy solutions that fit a balanced lifestyle and address the potential taste barrier for those new to dark chocolate. The event will feature tasting stations that show how consumers can incorporate dark chocolate into everyday activities with friends and family, including Scharffen Berger Chocolate—Wine Tasting Party; Brookside Dark Chocolate—Workday Treat; Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate—Relaxing Ritual; Hershey’s Nuggets Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate with Almonds—Girls Brunch In; and Special Dark Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate—Family Dinner.
Each station will feature small plates that complement the dark chocolate treat. Flavor experts at each station will discuss the featured dark chocolate brand and speak to the cacao percentage.