Last month Gino traveled to Reykjavik Iceland to visit one of our much beloved customers Omnom Chocolate. Being just three years into their company, the team of four sat down for a Skype interview to tell me how they have grown from a 100 square meter factory in an old gas station to maxing out production and wrapping over 1000 bars a day!
Where it all Began:
Reykjavik holds 118K of Icelands 323K population. Just the place to begin a bean to bar chocolate factory thought Kjartan, Viggo, Andre and Oskar—the foursome that started Omnom Chocolate. And so it began. The group started making chocolate out of Oskar’s apartment with one melanger and beans bought offline, as so many chocolate makers begin. Six months after they brought friend Andre on board who is the mastermind graphic designer behind their packaging. Now three years later, they have again run out of space . . . literally. Omnom runs six Cocoatown’s on a round-the-clock basis to keep up with production. In a matter of months they will yet again scale up to double or even triple their production to meet the demands of their customers, who can’t seem to get enough of their Icelandic craft chocolate.
Omnom’s sales are entirely from wholesale. About half of their sales are in Iceland while the other half are exported for sales in other countries, including the United States. However, the market in Iceland was not an easy one to break in to. They struggled with the same issues many chocolate makers have; consumers thought the bars were much too expensive and they were not getting the exposure needed, in a market consumed by mass market chocolate. Kjartan says getting into the Iceland Airport helped them grow immensely as tourists were willing to pay more for bars that were made in Iceland and which they could take home as a souvenir. Iceland Air even started using Omnom chocolate as dessert for first class passengers.
The group knew they needed to stand out, be unique in just right ways and attract both tourists and locals alike. They did this first with the product itself. Having backgrounds as pastry chefs, the team worked tirelessly to create flavors that were approachable and fun. The market already liked milk and white chocolates, so they created bars that would attract consumers while introducing them to completely new flavors at the same time; Dark Milk + Burned Sugar, Lakkris + Sea Salt (Icelandic liquorice!) and Sea Salted Almonds + Milk. Understanding their market was key to their success. Not surprisingly, these are the top selling bars in Iceland, while the Lakkris +Sea Salt bar was a hard sell in United States. Slowly they have captured the consumers interest to try the darker, single origin chocolate bars, which they are selling more of each year.
Omnom was approached by a distributor in the United States and then one in Sweden, both in which they work with today. They explained that having a distributor helped them gain momentum on the ground by people who shared their same vision, while knowing the market of another country.
Omnom knew flavor was not enough, they needed to create packaging that would make someone grab for their bar. Andre, Omnom’s graphic designer said he was inspired by nature, simplicity, geometry, functionality and of course Iceland. He explained;
“Packaging is the first visual and last physical contact a brand has with a customer and we wanted it to be a lasting one. Ultimately we aimed to design packaging for Omnom Chocolate that would add value and function to the product. At the same time it had to be aesthetically pleasing and possess an attraction that will in turn elevate it to a must-have item.”
Advice to Newbies:
Although Omnom is merely three years old themselves, they are creating a big impact in the bean to bar movement. Kjarten says they still struggle with issues like temperatures rising in the summer, causing their tempering to fail or simply keeping up with high demands with little space. Their advice: “Take your time and don’t rush it, you’ll pay for those mistakes later, just produce at a capacity you can handle and grow gradually.”
Where to Buy:
Check out Omnom’s long list of retailers around the globe on their Stocklist.
Peace, Love, Beans,