Consumers were clamoring for everyday availability of Russell Stover chocolates, previously reserved for holidays and happenings, said Andreas Pfluger, chief executive officer.
|Andreas Pfluger, c.e.o. of Russel Stover|
“We know our consumers say, ‘Why do we have to wait until next Valentine’s Day to eat a Russell Stover product again?’” Mr. Pfluger told Food Business News at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 24-26 in Chicago. “We took that insight and said, ‘Let’s offer the consumer our best selling products from the box, take them out of the box, put them in a packaging that lends itself to portion control and sharing.’”
Varieties include pistachio bark, crunchy caramel bark, double-dipped pretzels with sea salt, and chocolate-coated bites in such flavors as pomegranate, orange, blueberry, sugar-free cranberry, sugar-free orange and sugar-free blueberry. Some of the brand’s most popular boxed chocolates, including milk chocolate pecan delight, dark chocolate coconut, milk chocolate caramel, and dark chocolate mint patties, are now available in individually wrapped portions. Russell Stover also is introducing a line of bite-size confections, featuring dairy cream caramel, pecan delight, and coconut. The products are rolling out nationally to major retailers this year.
“So far, the response has been very, very good,” Mr. Pfluger said. “Retailers love it, and I believe consumers will respond very positively.”
Still, he added, the company will remain true to its rich, 90-year heritage as a producer of seasonal and boxed chocolates under the Russell Stover, Whitman’s and Pangburns brands.
“We’re not going to walk away from what made us strong,” he said. “We are going to make that even stronger.”
Russell Stover Candies was acquired in 2014 by Swiss chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprüngli, which also markets the Lindt and Ghirardelli brands in North America. In addition to becoming more consumer-oriented and category management-focused since the companies merged, Russell Stover is leveraging Lindt’s expertise in product quality, Mr. Pfluger said.
“There is a lot of quality knowhow in the Lindt group,” he said. “So, the consumer can expect not only consistent quality (from Russell Stover) but also ongoing quality improvements.”
Additionally, the company has increased its brand marketing efforts, he said.“At the end of the day we’re starting to communicate with the consumer,” Mr. Pfluger said. “We had not done that in the past. We are going to make more and more noise.”