The chocolate industry is undergoing a massive growth spurt thanks to consumer-driven enhancements and increasing demand for greater variety. No stranger to this trend, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, now back to private ownership, is poised for a dramatic increase in business and exposure thanks to a vast array of new projects that management expects to deliver tremendous innovation ahead.
“This is an exciting time,” exclaims Chris Spirko, general manager/chief financial officer for Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker.
Earlier this year, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker announced its return to private ownership, marking a seismic shift in the 25-year-history of America’s original craft chocolate brand. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker was recently purchased for an undisclosed sum from The Hershey Company, where it has been held since 2005. The brand and manufacturing have relocated to a new craft facility in Ashland, Oregon.
Current research by Scharffen Berger reveals that consumers are purchasing and eating higher quality chocolates, a situation that places even greater demand on chocolate makers to find the highest-quality sources.
“We are going to broaden our cocoa sourcing,” Spirko explains. “We are going back to what we do best – getting the best beans to make the best chocolate. We want to build and create an amazing flavor profile. We are going to learn what consumers want and need, and we can make changes very quickly.”
A wide range of new projects are being explored, including nibs and a mocha bar. There will be new pack sizes and flavors. Spirko explains there are numerous partners they can work with in the future, noting “we can make changes pretty easily.”
Ray Major, consulting Master Chocolate Maker and a recognized leader in cocoa sourcing and production, is partnering with Scharffen Berger on sourcing projects.
“What is making us state-of-the-art is our new small-batch, bean-to-bar facility in Ashland,” Spirko explains. “This 26,000-square-foot facility can produce millions of pounds a year.”