The Ward family, which owns US chocolate group Russell Stover, is reportedly exploring the possibility of a sale.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the family has tasked Goldman Sachs with valuing the business and evaluating the family's options. Russell Stover is expected to be worth around US$1bn, the WSJ suggested.

Boxed chocolate group Russell Stover has been owned by the Ward Family since 1960. The group expanded through the acquisition of Whitman Candies, which produces Weight Watchers products under licence, in 1993. According to its website, Russell Stover is the US's third-largest chocolate maker behind Hershey and Mars Inc and the largest producer of "fine boxed chocolates" in the country.

Russell Stover sells chocolates into grocery stores, gift shops and departments stores in 50 US states and Canada. The group operates 40 company-owned chocolate shops.