Chocosuisse, the industry association for Swiss chocolate, has reported a sales fall of 14.3% in the first eight months of 2020 due to the affect of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting travel, retail, hotels and restaurants.
In the UK, consumers have reportedly bought £50m ($65m) more chocolate than they did the year before, driven by multipacks and sharing bars purchases at supermarkets during periods of lockdown.
Jane Goodson, a confectionery buyer at Waitrose, told the Guardian newspaper: “We’ve seen a notable increase across premium chocolate and multipack chocolates. Little treats can help lift our spirits and clearly chocolate has been a popular remedy for some during this difficult year.”
The grocer revealed that demand for popular brand sharing bars rose 37%, while sales for its own-label bars also jumped by a fifth.
Jackson Woods, a consumer specialist at Kantar, also told the Guardian: “Shoppers have spent an extra £260m on chocolate to enjoy at home in the past six months. The pandemic has changed our priorities and for much of it, we have been less focused on counting calories and more on treating ourselves during a difficult time. Chocolate is a relatively cheap and easy way to do that and people have found comfort in their favourite brands.”
With the UK entering a second national lockdown on Thursday (5 November), confectionery wholesaler Hancocks said it will continue to operate and both its 14 UK cash and carry stores and its online channel, www.hancocks.co.uk, will remain open to support essential stores.
“We are continuing to keep our colleagues and customers safe, following latest government advice including mandatory face coverings, maintaining social distance, regularly sanitizing high touch areas and Perspex barriers in place at all till points in-store,” a spokesperson said.
Chocosuisse, which counts luxury chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli among its members, said the decline for Swiss Chocolate was greater in the four months to August, at 21.5%, when both domestic sales and exports took a hit.
"In these important markets, no recovery is in sight even longer term," Chocosuisse said.
Over the eight-month period, domestic sales of Swiss chocolate also fell, while imports of chocolate made abroad increased, the association said, criticising high raw material prices in Switzerland due to 'protectionist regulation,' Reuters reported.
Switzerland's chocolate industry generated sales of 1.787bn Swiss francs ($1.96bn) in 2019.