US chocolate sales up 24% during 2008-2013 period amid rise in premium chocolate popularity, Mintel says
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida
May 5, 2014
– BBX Capital's Jarett Levan admits he has a sweet tooth. But he insists his appetite for buying chocolate companies will be richly rewarded in the years ahead.
The Fort Lauderdale-based finance company acquired Hoffman's Chocolate of Greenacres and its subsidiaries, Boca Bons and Good Fortunes, in December and then William & Bennett, a wholesale manufacturer of chocolate products in Boynton Beach, the next month.
Now Levan is looking to expand his edible empire by buying more chocolate makers, maybe even in other parts of the country.
"I'm a big fan of chocolate" -- both to eat and to invest in, said Levan, BBX's president.
Industry analysts say chocolate makers have a sweet future.
Nationwide, chocolate sales have increased 24 percent from 2008 to 2013, according to a report by Mintel, a marketing research firm in Chicago.
"Chocolate is doing very well," said Mintel analyst Marcia Mogelonsky. "Most people love chocolate. Have you met anyone who doesn't like chocolate?"
Small chocolate makers such as Hoffman's don't release their sales records, but premium chocolatiers are finding a hungry audience, said Mogelonsky, who bought Hoffman's chocolates recently while visiting family in Palm Beach County.
A recent survey found just over half of Americans are willing to pay extra for premium chocolate, she said.
"Consumers do consider chocolate an indulgence, which means that there is a place for niche manufacturers," agreed Susan Smith of the Chocolate Council of the Chicago-based National Confectioner's Association.
Adding to the chocolate craze: Studies showing dark chocolate is healthy, Smith said.
Many give Hoffman's chocolates as a gift -- they've been tucked in gift bags at the Oscars and MTV award shows.
The company recently made a 9.5-pound chocolate basketball for National Basketball Association Hall of Fame inductee Alonzo Mourning.
Angelica Lopez, who considers herself a sculptor of chocolates at Hoffman's, was carefully adding final details Wednesday to her milk and dark chocolate creation for the former Miami Heat center. "It's like being an artist," she said. "I try to be the best."
Hoffman's customers can be just as devoted.
Craig Dougherty said he has been buying at Hoffman's for more than 30 years and realized he couldn't leave town without buying a supply of Hoffman's creme-filled chocolates on Wednesday.
"No place does it better," he said.
firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @donnagehrke
(c)2014 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services