For the first time in its 25-year history, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker is unveiling a major brand overhaul, designed to reflect the farm-to-bar process and fine quality of the chocolate and position the company for future growth. While the rebrand will be the most visible of the changes, Scharffen Berger has been making enhancements behind the scenes to ensure manufacturing, operations, innovation, marketing, sales, and company leadership are aligned and prepared to take the brand into its next quarter century of success.
“We are excited to share the next steps in the evolution of the Scharffen Berger brand,” said general manager/chief financial officer Chris Spirko. “To date we have been focused on getting our production side squared, ensuring we can deliver the quality and taste profile Scharffen Berger fans remember and deserve. Now we are turning our focus to the demand side of the business, which is going to be bolstered by our updated look, our product innovation and the incredible talent we have been able to bring into the fold.”
The new direction for this time-honored brand was set in motion when Scharffen Berger was returned to private ownership in 2020. Since then, the company has been laser focused on updating the brand visually, adding variety to the top-tier fine chocolate portfolio and shoring up the leadership team to ensure success.
Leading the next phase of the Scharffen Berger roll-out is JP Mackey, president and chief sales officer. Mackey brings two decades of sales and commercial strategy leadership, with a focus on food brands in early to high-growth stage. His previous roles include chief sales officer for Cauilpower, vice president of sales for barkTHINS, and executive vice president of sales at Kernel Seasons.
“It’s a remarkable opportunity to work with this team of owners and operators to renovate and relaunch a brand with the history, legacy, and future opportunity of Scharffen Berger,” Mackey stated. “I am so proud of the work our team has been able to do in the short time since we as a team put our plans on paper just a handful of months ago. We’ve always had the quality and belief from craft chocolate purists, now we have branding that will stand-out on shelf and in the marketplace that truly reflects the distinctiveness of what Scharffen Berger offers.
“We’re introducing new product sizes, formats and concepts that didn’t exist just five or six months ago, allowing the Scharffen Berger brand the ability to bring relevance and incremental sales to existing and new categories. In addition, we are focusing on the foodservice channel in a way that the chocolate quality and experience of Scharffen Berger deserves.”
When Scharffen Berger debuted in 1996, it was the first contemporary American craft chocolate. “The company and founders were taking chocolate as we know it in directions it hadn’t been before and with a holistic approach unique among American chocolate concepts. As a brand, Scharffen Berger was bold and visionary. Many, many brands took notice and can thank Scharffen Berger for what they are today,” Mackey added.
“Unfortunately, over the last 15-20 years our branding didn’t keep pace with what was happening around us, so when we decided to embark on this much-needed rebrand, we thought about it in terms of where would this brand be if it had kept innovating throughout the last 25 years while understanding how it can be relevant today and into tomorrow. We aren’t trying to be something we’re not. We are simply chocolate makers. Good ones. And we want to deliver what makes Scharffen Berger special in ways that make sense to evolving consumers. We’re just reframing what we are through today’s lens.”
The rebrand supports a packaging system that reflects the quality, stature and artisanal nature of Scharffen Berger and “Chocolate Maker” will become a central piece of the brand logo, as it is one of the key differentiators for the brand. The brand statement of “Blending America’s Original Craft Chocolate Since 1996” clearly communicates the innovation, craft process, and product consistency that is still in place today. The packaging system remains true to the strategic brand positioning and is relatable to the target audience, enabling Scharffen Berger to re-emerge as a leading, sought-after super-premium chocolate brand.
New product introductions
While the Scharffen Berger blends will remain constant, there are exciting new products and product formats coming to market starting in fall 2022.
Chef-preferred Scharffen Berger Baking Chocolate will now come in baking portions, with four individually wrapped 1 oz. bars in each envelope. This format will be easier for consumers to use, will result in less waste than the previous 9.7 oz. bar option and will allow bakers to use precisely the number of ounces needed, while being able to wrap and save any remaining chocolate for later. Scharffen Berger Baking Chocolate will still be available in 62% Semisweet Dark Chocolate, 70% Bittersweet Dark Chocolate and 99% Unsweetened Dark Chocolate varieties.
Scharffen Berger’s core line of three-ounce bars — currently offered in 41% Extra Rich Milk Chocolate, 62% Semisweet Dark Chocolate, 70% Bittersweet Dark Chocolate and 82% Extra Dark Chocolate—will add four new flavors: Milk Chocolate with Coconut and Costa Rican Coffee, Milk Chocolate with Almonds and Sea Salt, 70% Dark Chocolate with Salted Almonds and Toffee and 70% Dark Chocolate with Cherries, Almonds and Salt. These new flavors will be available starting in late Q4 2022.
Finally, Scharffen Berger is launching Chocolate Provisions by Scharffen Berger, which feature 20 9gm dark chocolate flats, packed in a cracker-like sleeve box, bringing a sweet solution to building charcuterie/cheese, dessert and brunch boards.
“The board trend is here to stay. With more people looking for ways to add interest and build boards with quality ingredients, we are bringing the perfect sweet artisanal complement to fine cheeses, imported meats and even marshmallows and graham crackers in our craft Chocolate Provisions flats,” Mackey adds. Flavors at launch will include 70% Dark Chocolate Flats with Sea Salt, 70% Dark Chocolate Flats with Cherries, Almonds and Salt, 82% Dark Chocolate Flats and 41% Rich Milk Chocolate Flats. Look for Chocolate Provisions to launch in time for Super Bowl entertaining and the spring holiday season in early 2023.
In addition to Mackey, the Scharffen Berger team has expanded in order to fuel the growth and change needed to lead the brand into the future.
Chocolate maker, Ray Major, has joined Scharffen Berger as a full-time member of the team. Major has been consulting with the organization since it was returned to private ownership. Major is a specialist in tropical agroforestry, cocoa production, processing and sustainability. He has been in the confection industry for more than 45 years and brings his extensive experience and unparalleled chocolate making expertise to his role at Scharffen Berger, building upon the work he did with the brand over the past several decades. In addition to his chocolate making expertise, Major has been responsible for developing and managing cocoa sustainability programs on the ground, working with cacao farmers to optimize post-harvest processes and sourcing from over twenty origins.
Additionally, Scharffen Berger added veteran marketing leaders to its team, bringing Karin Zannella aboard as vice president of marketing and Keith Scott as head of performance marketing and e-commerce. Zannella is a brand, shopper marketer and strategy leader with an exceptional record of delivering sales objectives and gaining exposure and market presence for premium and luxury brands, including JoJo’s Chocolate, Godiva Chocolatier and Illy, among others. Scott brings two decades of brand-building and luxury goods experience to Scharffen Berger, having led marketing for wine and spirits brands such as Tanqueray, A to Z Wineworks, and Sterling Vineyards.
Mackey concluded, “We firmly believe that it’s our job to make the chocolate so our customers can make the magic at home or back-of-house in a restaurant kitchen. We have a clear ambition of reclaiming the position of America’s finest craft chocolate maker, and with the rebrand, new product innovation and the amazingly talented and dedicated team we’ve got here, I know Scharffen Berger is more than up to the challenge.”