$5.00? For a Candy Bar?

I haven’t written about price yet, but I’ve thought about it a lot. Will people readily pay more than, oh, 75 cents for a candy bar?

I expect to hear this question a lot, so I thought I may as well get started talking about it now.

As far as I see it, just because I use the candy bar form doesn’t mean that I have to charge their traditional price. When I analyze my ingredients, labor, and costs, $5.00 each sounds like a bargain to me for both the Malt Bar (Creamy Malt Ganache and Crunchy Shortbread enrobed in Milk or Dark Chocolate; organic cream and malt syrup used) and the Salted Caramel Nut Bar (Organic CA almonds, organic CA walnuts, CA pecans, and organic cacao nibs in a buttered caramel finished with Maldon Sea Salt; molded in dark chocolate; organic cream used). The price isn’t firm yet, but it is in the ballpark that makes sense.

Here are some things to consider…

  • I’m using whole, organic and/or local ingredients whenever possible, which are generally more expensive than conventional confectionery ingredients.  I don’t use any artificial ingredients, and never high-fructose corn syrup, which is found in Karo corn syrup.
  • Everything is handmade. I’m even infusing my own extracts and liqueurs for purer flavors. That takes more time, labor, and inventory.
  • The bars weighs about 1.75 ounces each. At $5.00 a bar, that comes to about $46.00 per pound. Artisan chocolates usually cost more. For example, Recchiuti charges at least $80 per pound, and Christopher Norman charges $55 per pound.
  • My technique is in line with other artisan chocolatiers, but I almost envy them b/c they basically just enrobe ganache — they generally make it with conventional ingredients, let it set overnight, put a pre-coat of untempered chocolate on it, cut it, and enrobe it in tempered chocolate; or they do molds with piped ganache inside. For their flavored chocolate bars, they just have to mix inclusions into tempered chocolate.
    • For my Malt bar, I make my ganache w/ as many organic ingredients as possible, let it set overnight, cut it, make shortbread dough, shape it evenly to certain sizes, chill it for at least several hours, bake it for about an hour, cut it precisely, let it cool, enrobe it w/ tempered chocolate, place ganache on top of it, let it crust for several hours, and fully enrobe it in more tempered chocolate.
  • There is enough ganache in the Malt bar to equal at least two truffles, and it has the added bonus of a shortbread cookie.
  • The other gourmet candy bars on the market are comparable, or more.  Zingerman’s sells candy bars for $7 (or 4 for $29 in a velvet pouch). Garrison Confections sells one for $5. I’ve sampled both, btw, and as much as I may admire their companies, I barely made it through two bites of either.
  • Wait, velvet? Ok, there’s nothing wrong with velvet, per se, but I’m trying to use packaging that is as eco-friendly as possible.
  • I will be making donations for the environment, most likely 1% of sales through 1% For The Planet.
  • Compared to a cup of coffee at Starbucks, a cupcake at a cupcake shop, or a bowl of frozen yogurt, the price is reasonable for the amount of attention to detail involved in them.
  • I’m making them in LA, where expenses are high.

I do have mixed feelings about this price. I truly wish I could give away my bars to whoever wanted to enjoy them. I love how good chocolate can make people so happy, and I regret that the price may prevent some people from experiencing the candy bars.

But, chocolate is an indulgence, and relatively speaking, $5 is pretty reasonable for an indulgence. Also, I know I’m willing to pay more for goods that require a lot of thought and effort. I hope others will, too.

13 Responses to “$5.00? For a Candy Bar?”

  1. Brian Says:

    I hesitate to say it, since I plan to buy some of those candy bars but $5 seems kind of low, really. I mean, calling them candy bars is true strictly speaking, but as you say, they bear more resemblance to Rechiutti’s stuff than M&M/Mars.

    At the Whole Foods in Austin, a box of maybe 8 of Fran’s salted caramels is something like $12. And those things are tiny, and the only pricey ingredient in there is the chocolate. Let’s face it, as much as I adore caramel, it’s cheap stuff. Even using Straus cream and the best sugar money can buy, you can’t really make caramel that expensive. So that always annoys me, frankly, that caramels are so expensive. Rechiutti’s wacky herb-infused caramel ganaches enrobed in expensive chocolate? Those I can understand. But that little box of Fran’s salted caramels gets me every time.

    Given that, and that you are using more valuable and exotic ingredients and there’s more to the production, $5 sounds more than reasonable.

    I mean, to me, anyway. Hopefully others agree!

  2. Mr. Shain Says:

    sprinkles and pinkberry charge more that anyone would have thought was reasonable. why not? or perhaps small candy bars?

  3. Chela Says:

    If you call it “Gourmet,” “Hand Crafted in Small Batches,” “Confectionary Bar,” etc. then you are more likey to have success with the $5 price point. I am certainly of the school that you get what you pay for, and am willing to pay for such an indulgence. I’ll be eager to buy one when the are available!

  4. cybele Says:

    I don’t think that sounds that bad. Lake Champlain charges $3.25 for their bars. Which are rather pedestrian flavors (not that it’s a bad thing!).

    My only concern is that it would be expensive to sample the bars and find out which is your favorite. Maybe a box of “Fun Size” mini bars (which would be, you know, like a box of chocolates, not candy bars) to try them all. Same price per pound, just more variety.

    Ease of ordering would be the next stumbling block.

  5. maltsense Says:

    They sound delicious, and what they are worth is– exactly what people are willing to pay for them. Just like everything else that’s for sale!

  6. Mimi Says:

    I have to agree that it depends on your audience. If you try to market your bars to the masses, a $5 chocolate bar will seem like insanity if compared to something like a Giradelli bar purchased at Trader Joes. Even if you say that your bars have the finest ingredients and are handmade, the average Joe will scoff.
    If you sell your bars through a Gourmet store and your competition is the artisinal chocolatier from France, and people are expecting to see a $5 chocolate bar handmade with the perfect ingredients, it will seem like a good deal.
    I went to Chocolate Maya in Santa Barbara for the first time last week. I was expecting an expensive indulgence so chololate the size of a small marble for $2 each wasn’t as much of a shock as it could have been but it still felt odd to me, like I was shopping in a store for people of a much higher class and income level than I am. That said, the shop is what it is – fine chocolate and the chocolate is being sold to a demographic who would expect to find fine cheese in a cheese store or fine wine in a wine store. They want an experience and they are willing to pay a premium for it.

  7. G Says:

    Malt: read through this page, they specialize in grain products. http://www.briess.com/index.shtml In general, it’s a big step up from Carnation malted milk powder–but comes in 50 lb bags. I really like its flavor, which I’ve had at IFT conventions.

    Have you added up the cost of all the ingredients for a batch, and divided by yield? Adding on a per-bar share of packaging/shipping materials, fair-wage labor, overhead, and desired total profit should help you get a ballpark minimum cost.

    Price-wise, I pay about $15/lb for See’s, $24/lb for Dagoba Organic (solid bars), and did once pay $84/lb for Woodhouse Chocolates (St. Helena). Godiva runs about $40-$56/lb, depending on box size (smaller = more expensive per oz). You must emphasize ingredient quality and skilled craftsmanship in your marketing, else your $46/lb is going to float with no justification. Oh, and if you’re consigning through boutiques, is $5 wholesale or retail?

    I’d pay $5/bar–once– and would probably get the whole product line while I was at it–but would carefully weigh repeat purchases on factors such as whether I liked each item more than the vast realm of sweets available within two miles–and how much shipping was going to add to the per-unit cost–because I assume shipping six bars costs the same as one? Will you charge shipping per-unit, per price bracket ($0-10, $11-20), or per distance between you and customer?

    Your packaging, though being eco-friendly is a good goal, must ideally prevent moisture and oil transfer, and damage to the product–as well as showing it off attractively. The chocolate coatings will prevent oxidation of the fillings, to a certain extent. Read “oxidation” as “going rancid.” I hope you’ve done shelf-life tests. Have you done temperature-flux abuse testing (heating/cooling to accelerate product aging, blooming, moisture migration effects)

    Small business insurance. Mandatory. Also possibly allergen labelling, and being aware of cross-contamination in your kitchen. Do you have to put together a “Nutrition Facts” label for each product–or at what stage (total sales by unit count or $gross sales) does that come into play?

    These are aspects that were covered in my packaging and prod. dev classes. If you’ve already thought about them, great!

  8. Cupcakes Says:

    I would be more inclined to pay 5 bucks for it If i was on the list of tasters = )

  9. Tommy Says:

    As long as the bars are packaged and marketed well, the high price point can only work to your advantage, the way I see it. Just remember that yours is an upscale market, you’ll be selling these bars to folks with considerable discretionary income. Call me cynical, but those people are suckers for a five dollar candy bar! I agree with Mimi, the average Joe is definitely not who you’re going after here (although this average Joe will definitely give ’em when they land on the shelves at New Seasons).

  10. jessica Says:

    Zotter sells at my work for approx. $4.50, (70g). I think people are always willing to pay more for something if it is seductive enough.

  11. Ben C Says:

    For those not indoctrinated in the ways of artisan chocolate, 5 bucks may seem expensive. However, I doubt your bars will wind up on the shelf next to the Snickers and Reese’s. More than likely, customers will find them in some Whole Foods-esque setting next to individually wrapped bars of plain chocolate that likely cost even more.

    No need to justify your price to me. I fret over the same expenses, ingredient sources, labor and costs-to-consumer around the clock, and I firmly believe that a premium product demands a premium price. Philosophically however, I find myself bothered by the fact that my chocolates—at least in this town—will be almost the exclusive domain of affluent white people. High-end confections make people happy, and it bugs that for many, such pleasures are inaccessible. In the magical future when I open my dessert cafe, I’ve promised myself that there will always be a few items on the menu that are elegant AND affordable. Their price won’t change, and just about anyone of any means will be able to stop by and treat themselves without being intimidated by cost. Being inclusive is very important to me.

  12. ghanima Says:

    As a person with lactose-intolerance, I’ve completely gotten used to paying at least $5 for a good chocolate bar, and I do find that the higher-end bars are incredibly more satisfying than the run-of-the-mill candy bars. In my books, it’s completely worth it. I’m even considering undergoing the gastrointestinal troubles that accompany having a bar made with cream, shortbread, and the like, just to try some of your heavenly concoctions.

  13. Julie Says:

    I’m a poor grad student, but I have paid more than $5 for a chocolate bar in the past and will happily do so in the future. Where I live, a 3 oz Scharffen Berger bar is $5 or more. A similar price for something more complex like one of your bars seems very reasonable to me. If I am going to splurge on chocolate, I’d rather splurge on something of high quality that has had a lot of care put into it. I hope I get to try your bars someday.

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