Bernie Pacyniak at Lindt USA's headquarters facility in Stratham, N.H.

When I returned to Stratham, N.H., earlier this summer to visit Lindt USA, I was impressed by how much it had changed since my first visit in 2001. Back then, the headquarters and manufacturing facility were housed in just more than 100,000 sq. ft. of space.

There was one Bindler/Buhler moulding line producing Lindor truffles as well as a cocoa liquor melting room and a pre-refining, refining and conching area. Packaging was in the process of being moved to a new 35,000-sq.-ft. addition.

Fast-forward eight years, and the Swiss chocolate company that dared to introduce premium products into the United States can be proud of its accomplishments. As the undisputed leader of the U.S. premium chocolate category with a 35% share, Lindt USA now occupies more than 650, 000 sq. ft. dedicated almost exclusively to cocoa processing, chocolate production and packaging. 

Come early next year, the company will begin roasting cocoa beans on site, a development that clearly underscores the fact that Lindt USA remains totally committed to the premium chocolate segment in the United States.

Amidst all these changes, one key element has remained constant: top management. As with our cover photo back in November 2001, Ernst Tanner, chairman and ceo of Lindt & Strüngli, and Thomas Linemayr, president of Lindt USA, grace this month’s issue. This time they’re standing in the newly built packaging area, completed in 2007.

It’s this permanency within top management that helped Lindt not only maintain its long-term vision, but perhaps more importantly, play a critical role in executing it.

And that leads me to the first part of my teaser headline, the “99% cocoa” phrase. During the course of interviewing Tanner and Linemayr, it was brought to my attention that Lindt was the first company to market cocoa content on its chocolate bars.

Recently, the company launched a 99% cocoa content bar, which I suggested to Tanner and Linemayr was the domain of gourmand chocoholics.

I’ve often heard that the best way to sample such high cocoa content chocolate bars is with rum or cognac.Au contraire, my friends. According to Tanner, the 99% cocoa content bar simply needs to be savored. He advised breaking off a piece and letting it melt in the mouth for about 10 minutes to get the full chocolate experience.

“It’s rather addictive, you know,” he added.

Which leads me to the second part of the teaser headline, the “220% issue” phrase.  As many of you may know,Confection & Snack Retailing, akaConfectioner, is being integrated intoCandy Industry. This “magazine within a magazine” concept is designed to provide readers with a comprehensive overview of the industry, from retailing to manufacturing.

As all my manufacturing colleagues know, there’s no production without sales. It’s critically important to stay close to customers and consumers in order to run a business these days.

Under Executive Editor Deborah Cassell’s direction,Retail Confectioner(we tweaked the name a bit) will do just that with a superior mix of editorial, providing readers with new product information, category trends, retailer profiles and more.

Candy Industry, of course, will continue to be shepherded by me, delivering up close and personal interviews with industry movers and shakers as well as updates on ingredient and processing technologies, incisive news analysis, and profiles on up-and-coming confectionery artisans and trendsetters.

Thus, instead of a 110% effort to provide readers with a complete overview of the industry,Candy IndustryandRetail Confectionernow deliver a 220% punch. So, please savor the first issue. Give us your feedback about what you like and what perhaps needs further tweaking.

But I’m thinking you’ll find us as addictive as Tanner does his 99% cocoa content chocolate bars.