Artisan and craft
Confectioners are raising the bar on premium, with new products, including “hand-painted chocolates, coffee and liqueur fillings, more interesting and unusual artisanal flavors than we’ve seen before, high quality ingredients and very sophisticated packaging,” Ms. Whiteside said.
Dollar sales of premium chocolate grew nearly 10% last year, on top of 16% in 2015, according to the National Confectioners Association. But, as Ms. Whiteside noted, “while artisan chocolate in particular has been very popular with consumers over the last five years, it still represents a small fraction of the total confectionery market.”
New milk chocolate champagne truffles from Ethel M Chocolates, a division of Mars, Inc., include a handcrafted touch.
“Each truffle is airbrushed by hand with colored cocoa butter,” Ms. Whiteside said.
From Ferrara Candy Co., Brach’s is debuting a line of premium fudge in sea salt cocoa and vanilla varieties.
“It’s shelf-stable but still falls into that artisanal category,” Ms. Whiteside said. “It has that crumbly texture of fudge and is made with real butter.”
Cold Brew Chocolate Coffee Bites, a new gourmet range from Wild Ophelia, a sister brand to Vosges Haut-Chocolat, includes three varieties: Jet Black, Mexican Vanilla and Sea Salt Caramel.
Just Born Quality Confections is expanding its Peeps brand into the premium segment with Peeps Delights, featuring the classic marshmallow chick dipped in fudge. Seasonal varieties set to launch later this year include maple brown sugar marshmallow with white fudge, sugar cookie marshmallow with white fudge, and peppermint bark marshmallow with dark chocolate.