Prospects are high for the category as companies integrate "beter-for-you" sweet treats.



Between 2003 and 2005, when the low-carb diet fad was at its peak, chocolate biscuit sales suffered, a recent Euromonitor report observed. Since then, the category has been gradually picking itself off the floor. While overall biscuit sales have remained flat so far this year, Euromonitor projects a volume growth of 1% between 2008 and 2013. And while 1% is not a large increase, the category has certainly progressed since the low-carb dieting days.

Not only have companies begun to master the ever-growing portion control trend, but they have also started using healthier ingredients in their products.

German chocolate brand Ritter Sport does both. Exclusively distributed by Paramus, N.J.-based Euro-American Brands, Ritter Sport offers all-natural chocolate bars, including a Milk Chocolate with Butter Biscuit variety amongst others. Known for its colorfully wrapped, square-shaped chocolates, Ritter Sport chocolate bars have begun selling at Walgreens stores as of last month, according to a release. The bars are also available in food, drug and mass merchandiser retail outlets throughout the United States.

In addition to Ritter Sport’s bars containing all-natural ingredients, the chocolate squares are also offered as minis. Approximately 16.7 grams per square, the mini chocolates offer a portion control option for consumers.

Offering a variety of “better-for-you” items, German company Lambertz Group realizes that in order to stay ahead in the industry, one must keep introducing new and improved products.

“The consumer determines new trends - such as wellness, trans-fat free or organic products - and we producers have to react by creating new products,” says Ralf Fritzsche, ceo of marketing and distribution at Lambertz.

In response, this year the company introduced a new Domino product made with high-quality marzipan and dark chocolate. Additionally, Lambertz keeps up with the trends by offering premium, sugar-free and organic products.

Lambertz’s premium brand, Henry Lambertz, features high quality chocolate in premium packaging. The company also combines its wellness pastry, Wholesome Pleasures Choco, with chocolate. To be considered a “wellness” pastry, the treat features ingredients like sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sesame, oatmeal, honey and 15% chocolate pieces. The seeds and nuts provide the body with energy, along with mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are good for the cardiovascular system.

“Lambertz is one of the first producers to make biscuits without trans fats,” says Fritzsche. “Furthermore, we were the first ones to produce a cookie assortment with low-fat and less sugar - Lambertz Light and Crunchy.” On the U.S. market, Lambertz offers a multitude of chocolate biscuits under the designation “German cookies” or “European cookies.” Some of the company’s popular chocolate biscuits include Balena and Cocofleur.

Initial sketches by Erin Fetherston for LU biscuits' limited edition packaging.

Moving from Germany to France, Kraft Snackfood’s LU brand started in Paris before being sold throughout Europe and the United States. LU’s Le Petit Écolier (“The Little Schoolboy”) is a French butter biscuit topped with a layer of milk, dark, extra dark, white or hazelnut chocolate featuring LU’s signature design. The company also offers Noir Extrême, Pim’s and Digestive chocolate biscuits according to the company web site.

Noir Extrême
features a cocoa biscuit with crème filling covered in 70% cocoa extra dark European chocolate. It is also available in Cocoa Beans and Mint Cocoa flavors. Pim’s is a biscuit topped with a mixture of European chocolate and a tangy crème filling available in raspberry and orange flavors. LU’s Digestive product is simply a sweet biscuit with a chocolaty layer on top.

To celebrate its European history of style and design, LU took part in this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York last month. LU biscuits joined with fashion designer Erin Fetherston to create limited edition packaging for the product, according to a release.

“Our collaboration with Fetherston furthers the rich LU heritage in this arena,” says Michael Brandstaedter, senior director of marketing, LU biscuits, “and given the brand’s Parisian roots and own chic quality, Fetherston is a perfect fit for the LU ‘high –fashion makeover.’”

The limited edition packaging will appear on the Le Petit Écolier and Crème Roulee varieties in U.S. retail stores beginning in 2009.

Putting a spin on the chocolate biscuit category, Pepperidge Farm offers a variety of cookies with chocolate according to their web site. One of their most popular cookies, Milano, features dark chocolate sandwiched between two sweet oval cookies. The cookies also come in Mint, Milk Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Orange, Raspberry, Black & White, Chocolate Raspberry and Chocolate Mint flavors.

Pepperidge Farm also offers Geneva cookies (cookies covered in chocolate and chopped pecans), Brussels cookies (two crisp cookies with dark chocolate in between) and Tahiti cookies (coconut cookies with chocolate in between).

While high-end chocolate biscuits manufacturer Godiva doesn’t feature any coconut-flavored cookies, the company offers traditional chocolate biscuits along with new and innovative products.

In classic chocolate biscuit form, Godiva Chocolatier features Godiva’s Signature (a European biscuit with a milk chocolate layer on top imprinted with Lady Godiva), Hazelnut Praline (hazelnut crème between two biscuits with the sides and bottom covered in milk chocolate) and Raspberry Premiere (a chocolate biscuit covered in raspberry crème, topped with dark chocolate), found on their web site.

The company’s newest premium chocolate biscuits include Dark Truffle Heart (a European biscuit topped with dark chocolate containing chocolate truffle crème), Chocolate Lune (two hazelnut wafers filled with chocolate crème, half dipped in dark chocolate) and Petite Mousse (an airy biscuit filled with chocolate mousse, the bottom and sides dipped in dark chocolate).

Thanks to the premiumization trend, high-end biscuit manufacturers are hoping to reverse the after-effects of the low-carb diet. Indulgence is back!

As for future dollar and unit sales, we’ll just have to see how the biscuit crumbles.