Scharffen Berger returns to private ownership after Hershey sale

Scharffen Berger returns to private ownership after Hershey sale

ASHLAND, ORE. — Premium chocolate brand Scharffen Berger has returned to private ownership following a divestiture by The Hershey Co., which held the business since 2005.

Founded in 1996, Scharffen Berger is regarded as a leader of the bean-to-bar craft chocolate movement, combining practices of chocolate and winemaking to produce an assortment of fine baking and tasting chocolate bars and cocoa powder sold at specialty food shops across the country. The brand and manufacturing have relocated to a new facility in Ashland. The business is led by Paul Cherrie, chief executive officer, who previously held global management positions at Concord Confections and The Topps Co.

“We are excited to take Scharffen Berger back to its private ownership roots,” Mr. Cherrie said. “Embracing a founder mentality once again, we can infuse energy, passion and a deep love and respect for the brand back into everything we do. Scharffen Berger has a rich history and an amazing quality heritage. We are honored to be able to carry forward founder John Scharffenberger’s vision of making chocolate with the soul of a fine wine.”

Other chocolate industry veterans joining Mr. Cherrie include Ray Major, master chocolate maker; Wade Latz, engineer; Peter Lord, engineer; Chris Spirko, chief financial officer; and Mr. Scharffenberger as adviser. Mr. Major, Mr. Latz and Mr. Lord bring decades of operational experience at The Hershey Co., while Mr. Spirko previously held a finance leadership role at M&M Mars.

“It was paramount to bring a deeply experienced team on board to make sure we could live up to the Scharffen Berger name and reputation from our very first chocolate run,” Mr. Cherrie said. “The level of expertise and pure passion for the brand that this team delivers is humbling.”

Hershey had acquired then Berkeley, Calif.-based Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker Inc. for a reported $50 million to expand into gourmet confections. After operating the business for 15 years, Hershey in 2020 divested Scharffen Berger, along with the Dagoba chocolate brand and Krave Pure Foods, to focus on acquisitions within salty snacks and nutrition bars. Financial terms of the divestitures were not disclosed, but Hershey in an 8-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission indicated total proceeds and impact on income were expected to be immaterial.