SYDNEY, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A small Australian confectioner will start selling its chocolate encased toys in the United States from October, cracking a potentially lucrative market where its better-known global rival, Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, are outlawed.
Yowie Group said on Wednesday that Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, will trial its “Yowie” chocolates across 50 stores in Texas. If the trial is successful, Wal-Mart will start selling Yowies nationwide.
The company did not give further details.
Shares in Yowie Group jumped as much as 18.5 percent after the company announced the tie-up with Wal-Mart. The stock has quadrupled this year, in a flat Australian share market.
Yowie Group is based in Perth in western Australia. It has a market capitalisation of around A$66 million ($60 million) and currently does not export its chocolates outside Australia, according to its website.
Kinder eggs, made by privately owned Italian confectionery company Ferrero SpA, are banned in the United States because of the potential choking hazard for infants.
The chocolates, however, are readily available in many countries across the world. Since its launch in 1974, Ferrero has sold nearly 30 billion Kinder Surprise eggs worldwide, the company said on its website.
Yowie Group’s deal with Wal-Mart comes a few months after the company won the only patent granted so far by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a chocolate-encased toy.
Yowies were originally made by Cadbury, but the confectioner discontinued the brand in 2005 after a legal dispute with its creators. Seven years later, in 2012, Yowie Group was formed and relaunched the product.
Yowies are popular among Australian children because they include miniature replica toys of endangered species and other wild animals, as well as educational material on conservation.
“The core brand message to ‘save the natural world’ is still relevant today,” Trish Fields, a director of Yowie Group, said in an email to Reuters. ($1 = 1.1028 Australian dollar) (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Miral Fahmy)