Tale From the Dark Side

Hershey’s recent New York City event highlighting its dark chocolate offerings as dessert items, featuring tasting stations staffed by flavor experts to discuss each featured brand and speak about its cacao percentage, points up just how ubiquitous dark chocolate has become in these United States. In fact, it’s becoming as mainstream as Hershey’s itself.

In announcing the event, Hershey noted that 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 general manager, U.S. chocolate category at the Pennsylvania-based chocolate company. “Hershey offers a wide range of dark chocolates to fulfill consumers’ palates and need states across personal consumption and sharing occasions.”

Hershey was quick to point out that it has the largest share within the dark chocolate segment, and many of its core dark chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Special Dark and Brookside, are showing strong growth.

And, since dark chocolate’s better-for-you and indulgent flavor profile make it an ideal dessert option (another growing trend observed by Hershey) for increasingly health-conscious but reward-seeking consumers, it makes perfect sense that the company would seek to raise its all-American dark profile to win over those like me who favor often imported gourmet/specialty brands. Super-dark fan that I am, I might consider switching when Hershey offers a dark chocolate item with a cacao content above 85 percent. So far, its highest is 82 percent.

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