A consumer shift towards dark chocolate in Austria holds lucrative opportunities for manufacturers, according to Leatherhead analyst.
Within Austria’s wider confectionery market it is chocolate that heads up the market share; worth more than 70%, according to Leatherhead data.
In 2011, chocolate sales across the country totted up to just over $1bn (€840m), up 10% from 2007.
Jonathan Thomas, primary market analyst at Leatherhead Food Research, outlined a shift towards dark chocolate within this sector.
“I think more people have been turning towards dark chocolate because of the growing appetite for premium products, for example single-origin, as well as for health reasons; namely the link which is becoming stronger between cocoa and heart health,” Thomas told ConfectioneryNews.com.
Additionally a spike in milk prices has spurred a move towards darker chocolate, he noted.
In comparison with the UK chocolate market, penetration of dark and/or premium chocolate products is traditionally higher in Austria, like nearby countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland, he said.
While it accounts for a substantial chunk of Austria’s chocolate market, “I would say there is scope to develop the dark chocolate category further, especially once the economic situation improves, since more people seem to be seeking out premium chocolate products”, Thomas said.
Moulded bar and tablet chocolate formats remain the most popular in the country, and boxed chocolates (in particular pralines) are also considerable, he noted.
Nuts, caramel: Luxury
Chocolate products containing nuts and caramel are also a strong market feature, Thomas said, and this area represents a growth opportunity.
“Market leader Kraft continues to innovate in this area and the continued popularity of products such as Ferrero Rocher and the Lindt range would appear to confirm strong demand for premium chocolate products made with nuts,” he said.
Chocolate continues to be the traditional favourite form of confectionery in Austria and represents a stark challenge for manufacturers looking to penetrate the country’s candy sector.
Thomas said that any opportunities to gain traction in Austria’s confectionery market outside of the chocolate sector would likely be through new product development in mints, particularly sugar-free and free from artificial additives and ingredients.