SF-born and Berkeley-based chocolate maker TCHO has been sold for an undisclosed sum to a major Japanese sweets company, Ezaki Glico. The Osaka company, which sells popular items like Pocky chocolate covered biscuit sticks, plans to keep TCHO headquartered in Berkeley, where it moved from its original Embarcadero home on Pier 17 to 3100 San Pablo Ave and signed a 12-year lease in 2014.
Founded in 2005, TCHO is known for its single-origin, fair-trade certified chocolate bars and flavored varieties like Mint Chip Gelato and Mokaccino bars. The company was backed by the founders of Wired magazine, who ran it until 2013, when a Connecticut investment firm, Emil Capital, bought a majority stake in the company. That’s now been sold to Ezaki Glico in a deal expected to close this week.
In a statement, Ezaki Glico representatives praised TCHO’s product and predicted that specialty chocolate’s star would continue to rise. “The overall market in the premium chocolate category is expecting strong continued growth, and by acquiring TCHO and entering this market, Ezaki Glico aims to enhance its chocolate business,” a representative said. Glico operates 19 plants and has over 5,000 employees, while TCHO has just about 40 workers.
TCHO is only the most recent Bay Area specialty food company to be acquired by a major outsider, drawing comparisons to Anchor Brewing’s sale to Sapporo or Nestle’s purchase of a majority share of Blue Bottle Coffee. But it’s also the latest in a lineage of local chocolate companies to be snapped up: Lindt bought SF’s historic Ghirardelli in 1998, and Scharffen Berger, credited with a local chocolate revival, was acquired by Hershey in 2005.Hershey closed that brand’s West Berkeley factory in 2009, though it still operates the Scharffen Berger label.
- Berkeley chocolate maker to be acquired by Japanese food company [SF Business Times]