The studies, Seasonal and Boxed Chocolates, Chocolate Confectionery and Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) also revealed that chocolate innovation is thriving. Global new chocolate product launches increased by 34 per cent over the past six months, up 16 per cent year-on-year.
However, despite the predicted growth in sales, Vivianne Ihekweazu, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, warned that challenges for the market were on the horizon: “Issues such as rising commodity prices and the VAT price rise in 2011 will increase cost across all confectionery products and inevitably pass these onto the consumer. However, our over-riding desire for indulgence will keep the chocolate category going, helped by continued new product development.”
Health and ethical trends
According to the research, men are also catching up with women in their fondness for chocolate: today 87 per cent of men say they eat it, compared to 91 per cent of women.
Although milk chocolate continues to reign over dark in UK consumers’ preferences, milk chocolate’s popularity dropped from over 50 per cent of consumer preference in 2008, to 35 per cent in 2009. In addition, consumers claiming that dark chocolate is healthier has increased from 23 per cent in 2008 to 35 per cent in 2010.
“The chocolate confectionery category has continued to face challenges, namely changing consumer demands as they pay closer attention to the calories in the food they eat, as they have a greater understanding of the need to maintain a healthy diet,” states the report.
Ethical concerns remain important to customers. Mintel said that ethical is now the third most popular claim for new chocolate products and 25 per cent of new chocolate products launched in the UK in 2009 carried this claim compared to 4 per cent in 2005.
The amount of consumers that report purchasing fair trade chocolate has remained steady, from 35 per cent in 2008 to 36 per cent in 2009 – a year when it was reported that many consumers traded down on key products.
“Ethical issues remain high on the consumer agenda and in spite of the recession, an increasing number of retailers and manufacturers have been moving towards fair trade sourcing as a marker of quality and way to show of their corporate social responsibility for chocolate confectionery. It seems only a matter of time before the seasonal and boxed chocolates market shifts this way too to meet consumer deman,” added Ihekweazu.