Hu debuts milk chocolate | Food Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Mondelēz launched Hu Organic Grass-Fed Milk Chocolate, which is the premium clean-label snacking brand’s first candy offering made with dairy. The product is sweetened with organic unrefined coconut sugar.
  • The milk chocolate confection is available in five flavors: Simple; Hazelnut Butter + Crunchy Hazelnut; Cashew Butter; Crunchy Almond + Coconut Flakes and Almond Butter. The bars can be bought on Hu’s website and at select retailers now, and will be available at Walmart, Target and Whole Foods in the coming months.
  • This is the first major change to Hu’s chocolate line since it was acquired by Mondelēz in early 2021 through its SnackFutures business unit, which focuses on better-for-you and indulgent snack offerings.

Dive Insight:

The dairy-based chocolate category is a new step for Hu, which has appealed to consumers looking for a vegan, better-for-you alternative to mainstream chocolate brands. By adding a dairy option, the brand could expand its reach.

Hu said, however, that its dairy-added snack will still contain clean-label ingredients. The milk comes from grass-fed cows, which has not been common in the chocolate space, except by a few brands like Alter Eco.

“Milk chocolate is undeniably delicious, and we’ve been craving the opportunity to produce a version OUR way — the HU way,” Hu co-founder Jason Brown said in a statement. “We finally did it and think we’ve got some seriously good milk chocolate. We cannot wait for both our current fans and new fans to try our ultra-simple take on this classic.”

Chocolate sales rebounded from their pandemic slump last year, growing 9.2% according to National Confectioners Association data. At the same time, consumers are also increasingly looking for candy with better-for-you attributes — something chocolate giant Hershey has capitalized on in recent years — as well as snacks that align with their values. 

Hu said in a statement that its new chocolate has no refined sugar, cane sugar, sugar alcohols, soy or palm oil. It also stressed that it is organic and Fair Trade certified. But it remains to be seen whether Hu’s consumer base will accept its move into dairy-based products.

This is not the first brand producing plant-based treats to launch a dairy version this year. In March, HumanCo rebranded plant-based ice cream Coconut Bliss as Cosmic Bliss and debuted the 17-year-old brand’s first dairy flavors. HumanCo’s CEO Jason Karp said the company made the change because 97% of ice cream sold in the U.S. iwas dairy-based, and it could open the brand up to a new swath of consumers. In response, social media backlash came from some vegans and consumers who viewed the brand’s shift as a concession of its values.

HumanCo’s Karp is also a co-founder of snacking brand Hu, but he does not appear to be involved with it since the Mondelēz acquisition.

Adding a milk chocolate option to Hu could broaden its appeal to U.S. candy consumers, which is the brand’s primary market. While the dark chocolate category has grown by 20% globally since 2016, according to a FONA report from last year, milk chocolate is the favorite choice in the United States. Roughly half (49%) of consumers in this country prefer milk chocolate, while 34% prefer dark chocolate, according to a 2021 YouGov poll.