Former Kraft exec launches Artisan Kettle organic chocolate chips

Chocolate chips and chunks supplier Clasen Quality Chocolate has added Artisan Kettle to its lineup. Pic: Artisan Kettle

Artisan Kettle, an organic baking chocolate line created by former Kraft Foods’ brand manager Beth Goeddel, is rolling out across the US market.

The brand is being managed by Clasen Quality Chocolate, a confectionery coating, chocolate chips and chunks supplier targeting primarily cookie, protein bar and granola bar manufactures.

Goeddel told this site she became the VP of marketing and strategy at Clasen after she assisted the company with its brand marketing on the behalf of her company, LVG Consulting.

She said the transition from a major CPG company to a privately held one gives her more flexibility to build the the brand’s foundation and invest in it in the long term.

Flat baking chocolate category

The creation of Artisan Kettle developed when Clasen decided to grow its retail arm, according to Goeddel. Until then, the firm was essentially rooted in doing private label for national retailers, in addition to supplying baking ingredients.

IRI data shows the growth of the baking chocolate category including chocolate chips, flours and bars, at Target, Whole Foods, and other major retail chains was “pretty stagnant,” Goeddel mentioned.

Conversely, organic baking chocolate posted a 37% growth during 2016.

“To me, that means consumers are looking for an organic version, but there isn’t a ton of them out there available,” she said.

Overcoming sticker shock

Goeddel believed one of the factors holding back the growth of the organic baking chocolate category is price.

“Consumers are willing to pay for things that they feel better eating, but when they get to that shelf at the grocery store, there’s often sticker shock. It’s expensive to eat better,” she said.

“We want to overcome that hurdle. We formulated our chocolate to have a broader appeal, and we’re selling it at a price that makes it more accessible,” Goeddel added. “We believe that we have the lowest priced organic chocolate chip available.

“We manufacture a lot of chocolate as an ingredient supplier, so there’s scale that allows us to pass savings on to the consumer,” she said.

The baking chocolate sector is heading toward cleaner and simpler ingredients, and will see strong growth from smaller brands, Goeddel said.

Two horse race

“The category has been dominated by three large brands: Nestlé, Hershey and Ghirardelli. Nestlé and Hershey have held the leadership position for a long time, and Ghirardelli has grown very nicely over the last decade.

“We hope to be one of the smaller brands that have posted impressive growth rates,” she added. “I think it’s going to be less of a two horse race.”

The brand retails for $4.49 per 10-ounce bag and is available in four varieties, including bittersweet, dark, milk and white chocolate.

Artisan Kettle is available in all Roundy’s stores in its home state of Wisconsin, and Goeddel expects it to enter 10 times as many stores by the end of 2017. 

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