Chocolate maker Hershey has launched its first new brand in 30 years, a line of soft caramels that could point to a larger trend within the chocolate and candy industry -- namely, a move away from cocoa-based confectionery.
Lancaster Soft Cremes are described as soft, chewy caramels and take their name from The Lancaster Caramel Company, Milton Hershey's first candy company established more than 120 years ago.
In another milestone for the American chocolate company, the Lancaster brand was launched in China earlier this year -- the first time a brand launch originated outside of the United States.
The move could be interpreted as an aggressive strategy that hopes to harness brand loyalty in a country where chocolate has yet to make inroads.
According to market research group Euromonitor, for example, the average Chinese consumes just 100 grams of chocolate a year, or the equal of two Snickers bars. By comparison, Americans eat 44 times that amount, and Germans 82 times as much.
Globally, environmental groups have likewise been raising the alarm on chocolate production. A report out of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture has warned that rising temperatures could scorch more than half of West African cocoa farms by 2060.
It's a similar warning in the coffee industry, where major players like Starbucks have been moving away from coffee-based products which face climate change-related threats. Some of Starbucks' biggest product launches over the last few years include freshly squeezed juices and teas.
Lancaster Soft Cremes rolls out in the US in January 2014 in flavors like caramel, vanilla and caramel, and vanilla and raspberry.Follow @CanoeLifestyle