New research from Mintel reveals that seasonal launches accounted for one quarter of chocolate new product launches in 2016, the biggest area of chocolate new product development.
“Our research shows that seasonal chocolate tops all chocolate new product development, a testament to the popularity of seasonal treats among consumers across the globe. This reflects the fact that these products are typically bought to help celebrate holidays or special occasions,” says Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight for Mintel Food and Drink. “With this in mind, seasonal chocolate is somewhat immune to recessionary pressures, as these products are bought on an occasional basis.”
When it comes to chocolate spend per head, the United Kingdom sits atop the leaderboard. In 2016, the average British consumer indulged in 8.61 kg of chocolate per capita. This was followed by Switzerland (8.59 kg per capita), Germany (8.32 kg per capita), Russia (6.57 kg per capita) and Austria (5.37 kg per capita).
While the UK leads in terms of per capita consumption, when it comes to volume sales the US leads the way. In 2016, the US consumed a whopping 1.3 million tonnes worth of chocolate, followed by Russia with 979 thousand tonnes, Germany at 680 thousand tonnes, and the UK at 555 thousand tonnes. Meanwhile, in Canada, consumers consumed a modest 148 thousand tonnes of chocolate in 2016.
In recent years, the chocolate confectionery market has continued to see growth, though at a very slow rate. In the US, sales were flat over the past two years.
“Chocolate confectionery had an uneven year in 2016. Volume sales in developed markets like the US remained flat, while the picture was a bit brighter in emerging markets like Poland and India, where sales generally fared better. Our research reveals that changes in per capita consumption points to an important shift in consumers’ eating habits, as consumption of chocolate confectionery is declining in the top five markets,” Mogelonsky says.
“The big issues revolve around permissibility and the blurring of lines between snacks and confectionery. Even though boundaries are fading, there is still something about chocolate confectionery that has remained constant. Chocolate is still a treat and, as something special, it typically gets a pass. While consumers may be looking for more healthy foods, they will trade health for indulgence when it comes to chocolate.”
Proving chocolate lovers have a heart, interest in ethical products remains relatively strong, with 17 percent of new products claiming some sort of “ethical-human” positioning, which could include fair trade, Rainforest Alliance or some other, independent “bean-to-bar” certification. Although still a small part of the category, accounting for less than six percent of global new product introductions in 2016, launches of chocolate confectionery with an organic claim increased six percent between 2014 and 2016.
Consumer demand is likely to be the major impetus for more conversion to organic offerings. In the US, 15 percent of chocolate buyers purchase organic products.
“Providing organic cocoa is proving to be a challenge for the industry. In order to satisfy the growing demand, it will become necessary for more cocoa growers to switch to organic farming methods,” Mogelonsky says. “As interest in healthy sweets continues to rise, the availability of chocolate that offers organic or all natural positioning will be desirable as consumers look for better-for-you options.”