US confectionery and snack food company Hershey has announced that its newly formed, wholly owned subsidiary, Artisan Confections Company, has acquired the assets of Joseph Schmidt Confections, a premium chocolate maker.

Hershey said Joseph Schmidt is known for its artistic and innovative truffles, colourful chocolate mosaics, specialty cookies, and handcrafted chocolates presented in distinctive packaging. The products are sold in select department stores and other specialty outlets nationwide as well as in Joseph Schmidt’s stores located in San Jose and San Francisco.

Hershey also said it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, one of the fastest-growing premium chocolate companies in the United States. Scharffen Berger, based in San Francisco, California, is known for its signature dark chocolate bars and baking products.

The combined purchase price for Scharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt will be between US$46.6m and $61.1m, with the final amount reflecting actual sales growth through 2007. Together, these companies have combined annual sales of approximately $25m.

“The Scharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt acquisitions are great strategic opportunities for Hershey to capitalize on the high-growth, on-trend premium chocolate segment,” said Richard Lenny, chairman, president and CEO of Hershey.