Snacks & Candy

Wrigley Introduces Chocolate Altoids

Company focusing on upscale indulgence

CHICAGO -- Earlier this month, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. rolled out three flavors of an Altoids mint covered in dark chocolate.

They have looked at using chocolate a few times, but could never develop the right idea, Bob Boutin, executive vice president of Knechtel Laboratories, a Skokie, Ill., candy consulting company, told the Chicago Tribune.

Rory Finlay, vice president and managing director of new confectionery brands for Wrigley, told the newspaper that the new Altoids candy is aimed at America's growing preference to indulge [image-nocss] itself. He said the company has a strong desire [to develop] more indulgent products for the consumer.

Boutin said Wrigley would have to focus on chocolate even more if that is the direction it intends to take. If you want to do anything upscale, you almost right away have to use chocolate, he said.

Expanding into chocolate realizes a dream that Bill Wrigley Jr., Wrigley's executive chairman, often expressed to associates following the company's failed effort to purchase Hershey in 2002 for $12 billion, said the report.

The chocolate mint capitalizes on currently touted health benefits of using a dark chocolate, which Finlay said contains 50% cocoa. Dark chocolate contains higher levels of cholesterol-fighting antioxidants than white chocolate or milk chocolate.

Following on the Curiously theme used to highlight the particular flavor of the Altoids mint, the new Altoids Dark Chocolate Dipped Mint is called Curiously Chocolate, the report said.

Targeting the upscale market, the suggested retail price of the mint is $2.49 per tin, 40% higher than the $1.79 normally charged for a tin of regular Altoids. This is a wonderfully delicious product that marries peppermint and dark chocolate, said Finlay, who added that the premium Altoids mint combined with the premium chocolate justifies the higher price.

In addition to peppermint, Finlay said Wrigley's chocolate experts found the right combination of dark chocolate to use with cinnamon and ginger-flavored Altoids.

Rather than relying on typical marketing programs, Wrigley for the first time has attempted to create buzz around the launch by conducting an auction that raised $182.49 for the American Red Cross for three tins of mints on eBay. In addition, the company offered information about the new mint to key candy blogs long before its launch. As a result, we have had some wonderful dialogues around the product, Finlay said.

This is just the start of a big innovation program behind Altoids, said Finlay, who said his research and development team first considered encasing the mints with chocolate last February.

The company had planned to introduce the new mint after Christmas, but several major retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Walgreen Co. and CVS Corp., asked that it be made available earlier.

The chocolate-covered Altoids are key to Wrigley's efforts to revive the mint brand, which it acquired from Kraft in 2005 for $1.4 billion. Poor sales linked to the mint dragged Wrigley's shares lower for most of the year and helped prompt Bill Wrigley's decision to step down as the company's CEO in October, according to the Tribune. William D. Perez, to be replaced by William D. Perez.

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