Gourmet Chocolate in the US, a new report from market research publisher Packaged Facts, underlines the extent to which profits within the confectionery industry are tied to specific seasonal sales.
In fact, seasonal sales tracked through supermarkets, drugstores, and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart) accounted for roughly 29 per cent of gourmet sales in 2005, while overall tracked sales showed an impressive 20.2 per cent growth over 2004.
What's more, Packaged Facts projects that the overall gourmet chocolate market, which also includes untracked sales through speciality chocolatier boutiques, gourmet shops, convenience stores, warehouse clubs, and other non-chain stores, will grow at a CAGR of 6.4% from $1.3 billion in 2005 to $1.8 billion in 2010.
"Gourmet chocolates have come out of the closet and are showing some muscle in the mass market arena with exceptional branding that is making gourmet indulgence a household phenomenon," said Don Montuori, the publisher of Packaged Facts.
"Higher cocoa content, the health benefits associated with chocolate, and the introduction of organics, 'single origin chocolates,' and exotic flavours, such as grapefruit and habañeros, are having a major impact on this industry, helping it grow more quickly than standard chocolate."
Indeed, the lure of higher margins for gourmet chocolate has attracted the interest of large chocolate manufacturers, many of whom have introduced their own successful premium brands and/or acquired smaller, well-known gourmet manufacturers in the past few years.
While the majority of gourmet chocolatiers are still small business, many of them European, the influence of the corporate chocolate giants has been instrumental in introducing gourmet chocolates into mass-market channels.
This pattern is becoming consolidated within the US market. More than three quarters of respondents to a recent Mintel survey were given premium chocolate for the Christmas or Valentines holidays last year and two thirds of products bought in the holiday seasons were from gourmet stores.
This same seasonal effect can be seen in Europe. Barry Callebaut for example recently attributed a decline in sales volume to a late Easter.
"Our business is seasonal," said Barry Callebaut CEO Patrick De Maeseneire.
"With the late Easter holiday this year, some volumes are expected to shift from the second to the third quarter."
Gourmet Chocolate in the US examines new product trends, offers competitive profiles of industry leaders (and up and comers), and looks at consumer trends surrounding premium chocolate.