“While the lure of chocolate remains strong, it seems many consumers are enjoying it with an element of self-control” especially around Easter, said the consumer research firm.
Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insights, Food & Drink, Mintel, said: “The growth of bite-sized chocolate points to the on-going trend of permissible indulgence.
“Pre-measured, 100-calorie packs of chocolate or other treats have fallen from favor as consumers move away from diets that focus on strict calorie counts,” she said.
“Offering consumers a bite or a thin piece of chocolate provides an easier way to measure intake, and one that allows for a bit of wiggle room.”
Mintel data indicated that launches of low-sugar and low-fat chocolate described as “light” fell by 22% between 2013 and 2017.
“Many US consumers are ambivalent about counting calories as only 35% of them, who are currently managing their weight, have ever considered calorie-controlled snacks to be effective as a weight management tool,” Mogelonsky added.
Global chocolate launches for Easter
Mintel said Easter this year has seen a 23% rise in chocolate launches globally over the past year as the holiday represents one of those “permissible indulgence” moments.
“There has never been so much choice for chocolate lovers around the world. The countries leading the way in Easter chocolate innovation include Brazil, which accounted for 11% of global Easter chocolate product launches in 2017, followed by South Africa, Germany and the UK, each with a 10% share, and France (9%),” said Mintel.
Easter also marks a time for increased innovation in confectionery, Mogelonsky added.
“In the UK, for example, Easter eggs flavored with beer or stout… have given way to new alternatives such as gin-and-tonic flavored eggs,” she said. “In Germany, the introduction of vegan Easter bunnies and eggs reflects the growing popularity of a plant-based diet in that country.”
Plant-based eating in chocolate
But when it comes to vegan chocolate consumption, Germany still lags behind other European countries as 44% of chocolate consumers are interested in vegan options compared to Spain (55%), France (53%) and Poland (53%), according to Mintel.
“Vegan confectionery is slowly being introduced into the UK. In 2017, 8% of chocolate launches in the UK were vegan,” Mintel said.
“There’s currently a focus on plant-based eating in the chocolate sector,” Mogelonsky said. “Manufacturers have responded to the growing interest in plant-based diets by replacing dairy milk with nut- or grain-derived milks in milk chocolate products.
“In some markets, this may be responding to a potential, but not yet an articulated need,” she added.