Prepared Foods August 8, 2005 enewsletter

The Hershey Co. announced the acquisition of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker Inc., allowing Hershey to reach beyond its traditional chocolate eaters and tap into the gourmet market.

Scharffen Berger, a Berkeley Calif., company that specializes in premium dark chocolates, will continue making its products as normal but said it will have greater access to resources and growth opportunities by joining forces with Hershey.

"The Scharffen Berger name will continue, and Hershey looks forward to using and growing the Scharffen Berger brand," said Jim Harris, chief operating officer of Scharffen Berger. "We are all thrilled with the partnership."

Neither company would disclose the terms of the acquisition, but it is expected to be completed in the third quarter, according to a statement from Hershey.

With revenue of more than $4 billion and an estimated 13,000 employees worldwide, Hershey is best known for its milk-chocolate bars and candies such as Kit Kat, Almond Joy, Reese's and Twizzlers.

By contrast, Scharffen Berger markets to the refined palate and seeks to be approached like a fine wine. Its best-selling products include bittersweet and extra-dark chocolates. The company has retail stores in Berkeley, San Francisco and New York. Its products also are available in high-end supermarkets.

"Our unique premium products fill a gap in (Hershey's) portfolio," Harris said.

"We view it as a great opportunity," said Stephanie Moritz, a spokeswoman for Hershey. "Scharffen Berger is very on trend."

Harris added that Scharffen Berger will retain all its employees and will most likely expand under Hershey's ownership.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle