‘Some growth potential’ for gum and fair trade chocolate in Belgium – Leatherhead

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Western europe Chocolate Belgium

Kraft's Cote d'Or brand could perform well as consumers look to fair trade, says analyst. Photo: Kraft
Kraft's Cote d'Or brand could perform well as consumers look to fair trade, says analyst. Photo: Kraft
Any growth in the mature Belgian confectionery market lies in fair trade chocolate and chewing gum, according to an analyst at Leatherhead Food Research.

Leatherhead recently gave a market analysis of the Belgian confectionery market in its latest Food Industry Update where it valued the market at €1.12bn in 2010, up 8.4% on 2006 levels.

Volume sales were found to have fallen marginally from 126,000 tonnes in 2006 to 125,000 in 2010

Leatherhead said growth had been hampered by “the mature state of the market, as well as the economic downturn which has affected most of Western Europe”.

It added that some forms of sugar confectionery had decline in popularity, such as toffees.

Sugar-free chewing gum potential

Leatherhead analyst Jonathan Thomas, who authored the industry update told ConfectioneryNews.com:“The Belgian chewing gum market offers some growth potential, on the grounds that household penetration is lower than is the case for chocolate.”

“In a similar vein, per capita consumption (c. 0.5 kg) is lower than some other Western European nations. At 85%, the share of the overall market taken by sugar-free products is also lower than the regional average, which indicates further scope for growth,” ​he said.

However, he added that the market was very competitive with two main brands, Stimorol and Sportlife, accounting for a large percentage of overall sales.

From 2006 to 2010, the Belgian chewing gum market had grown 12%, though still made up just 4% of the entire confectionery category, according to Leatherhead figures.

Leatherhead’s industry update said that Kraft holds 58% of the chewing gum market, mainly because its Stimorol brand is manufactured domestically.

Unlike its dominance in other markets, Mars’ Wrigley brand is only the third largest gum manufacturer, though it recently launched its Airwaves in a bid to improve its market position.

Leaf International occupies second place. Thomas said its Sportlife brand was one of the most popular on the market.

Last week it was announced that Leaf was to merge with fellow Swedish confectioner Cloetta in a €753m deal.

Fair trade chocolate

According to Leatherhead, Belgium has one of highest per capita consumption rates for chocolate in Western Europe with 21% eating it every day.

“Within the chocolate sector, growth has been observed of late in the fair-trade/ethical chocolate market, due mainly to increasing penetration of the Max Havelaar label,” ​he said.

“Fairtrade chocolate is now bought by around 20% of Belgian households, and this percentage continues to rise.”

“Furthermore, Kraft has announced that its Cote d’Or brand will carry certification from the Rainforest Alliance as of the end of 2012, which indicates further growth for the market. Belgian consumers are also displaying an increasing appetite for lighter countline bars, which tend to be marketed on more of a health platform,” ​he continued.

The Belgian chocolate market makes up 62.2% of entire confectionery market and recorded €689m sales in 2010, up 11% since 2006, said Leatherhead.

Consumers veer towards milk chocolate, which accounts for 60% of total chocolate sales, while dark chocolate sales make up 32%.

Kraft is the biggest player with a 36% market share, followed by Nestle on 18%. Own label products also have a 14% share with around 500 small domestic artisanal producers.

The largest domestic manufacturer is Guylian, which was acquired by Asian confectioner Lotte in 2008 for €105m.

Leatherhead said that Barry Callebaut had been scaling down its operations since the sale of Stollwerck earlier this year.

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