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Organic chocolate fans unlikely to switch to cheaper options

By Linda Rano , 29-May-2008

In recent years organic confectionery products have become increasingly popular but are consumers willing to stick by their principals in the face of rising food prices or will they turn towards a cheaper alternative?

Josiane Kremer, a spokesperson at chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut, believes the future is bright for organic chocolate, at least.

 

 

She explained to ConfectioneryNews.com: "In general, consumers accept a higher price for organic chocolate, in particular in Great Britain and in the USA, where the price for a kilo of organic chocolate is about three times higher than that for conventional chocolate.

 

 

"Organic chocolate is a premium product. Therefore the demand for organic chocolate is less price-sensitive."

 

 

 

She added that the demand for organic products is not short-term, it is rather a trend that has been around for a decade, one that marks a significant shift in consumer conduct.

 

 

 

"Organic products continue to represent a market that is seeing dynamic development and continuous growth in demand", Kremer said.

 

 

 

A spokesperson at the UK Soil Association agreed that those who have made the choice to buy organic in general are likely to continue to do so, even as food prices increase across the board.

 

 

 

She said that those who are committed to organic will probably change their other shopping habits to save money on other products so they can continue buying the organic option. For instance they might cut back on dairy and meat purchases or join the increasing number of people growing their own fresh produce.

 

 

 

The spokesperson was not as optimistic that this would extend through to organic chocolate, though: It is possible that as prices rise organic customers may begin to see their chocolate as a treat and buy it less frequently than before.

 

 

 

Barry Callebaut, however, demonstrated its faith in the future of organic chocolate in April this year when the company acquired a 49 per cent stake in Biolands of Tanzania, Africa's largest exporter of certified organic cocoa, after purchasing 100 per cent of its top-end cocoa for the past eight years.

 

 

 

The All Candy Expo which took place in Chicago earlier this month, highlighted organic, premium and gourmet products, which organisers said were the fastest growing segments in the confectionery and snack markets.

 

 

 

Organic chocolate producers Green & Black's USA conducted interactive tasting and pairings at the event.

 

 

 

Demand for organic

 

 

In a European consumer survey, Euromonitor found that half of respondents thought organic food and drink was either important or very important. The organic finished product market is expected to grow by 32 per cent from 2006 - 2011, according to Euromonitor.

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