Two niche chocolate companies are going head-to-head with the confectionery giants in a bid to grab a chunk of the premium chocolate market.

Fine food specialist Foodfinders is launching a range of Continental chocolates to the UK, while Venture Foods, an independent supplier of vegetarian and organic foods, is extending its organic chocolate portfolio.

The newcomers will be fighting for a share of the premium chocolate category, which continues to perform well despite the growing importance of health.

"The trend for premium, ethical and organic chocolate is showing good growth and I expect it to generate high double-digit growth this year," said Tina Hird, trading controller for Spar. "Companies such as Green & Black's have done a good job promoting organic, but there is room for alternatives as consumers continue to demand a bigger choice."

Foodfinders is introducing a line of premium Belgian chocolates called The Belgian to the UK. The range includes boxes from 65g to 900g, along with 100g bars in a standard and a no-added sugar version. Dark, white, milk, nuts, fruit and mint are used in The Belgian products, which are colour-coded to distinguish between the varieties.

Prices for The Belgian range from £1.10 for the 100g chocolate bars to £14.99 for the 900g Chocolate Collection. There are also seasonal products.

Foodfinders said The Belgian would offer retailers the chance to sell a product with a strong Belgian heritage at good margins and a competitive price.

Three exotic bars have joined Venture Foods' fairtrade and vegan range of posh chocolates.

Launched under Venture's Organica umbrella, Spirit of Tangerines, Marrakesh and Food of The Gods chocolate bars are gluten-free, vegan and non-GM.