This year's festive highlights include:
1. Festive flavours get a hot twist
Christmas spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are long-standing festive flavour staples. But this year, ofi’s taste experts expect to see consumers get more adventurous with their flavour choice, as more unique and unconventional spice combinations, like chilli chocolate, appear in Christmas food and beverage products. For brands looking to spice up their festive offering, flavours like chilli work perfectly when paired with cocoa powder, to deliver a rich and spicy flavour sensation, with notes of nuts and fruits – perfect for warming up this festive season.
2. Premium advent calendars on the rise
Counting down to Christmas with an advent calendar is a key part of the festive season for many – and a tradition that’s evolving each year. Confectionery manufacturers can use advent to experiment with new flavours and formulations to create premium calendars that stand out on the shelf. According to Market Watch, the global Premium Chocolate market is expected to expand by 8.5% by 2028. And as a result ofi said it is seeing a growth in premium offerings as manufacturers look to tempt consumers with luxurious choices, such as Italian chocolatier Amedei’s Calendario dell’Avvento, which retails for €65. Meanwhile, others are looking to demonstrate innovation in formulation and respond to growing plant-based demand. ofi’s research has found that oat milk performs best as a dairy alternative in confectionery. H!P’s Oat Milk Calendar is an example of one manufacturer looking to offer consumers a more exciting option this advent.
3. Growth of the artisanal and handcrafted market
Artisanal chocolate can be one of the most affordable luxuries and as consumers seek out unique and special gifts, artisanal confectionery products are a great option to treat loved ones this holiday season. Globally, artisan and premium chocolate launches have been growing over the last five years, with an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4%. Handmade chocolates, like M&S’s chocolate pinecones, gourmet truffles, and small-batch candies crafted with premium ingredients are all in high demand. Indulgence is key in artisan and handcrafted treats, and single origin cocoa liquor works well for pralines containing nut pastes such as hazelnut.
4. Christmas crafts at home
As the cost of living continues to rise, many consumers may be choosing to spend more time at home. That means home baking is likely to prove a popular festive activity this year, providing families with a fun and affordable way to spend time together over the holiday period, with DIY kits like the Dr Oetker Winter Plum cake mix from Austria expected to be a hit. For some festive baking, ofi’s deZaan Black D11B powder is perfect for making indulgent black chocolate and hazelnut cookies. The fudgy and festive cookies pair deliciously with an ice-cold glass of milk, perfect to leave as a treat for Santa.
Naveen Pessani, Technical Category Manager for Chocolate & Confectionery at ofi said: “The giving, receiving, and sharing of chocolate and confectionery is central to so many festive celebrations around the world. And this year, consumer expectations are higher than ever, with many seeking new and novel Christmas offerings that bring a blend of tradition and innovation. The brands that will win this Christmas are those that are re-imagining holiday staples and delivering exciting and more premium products to surprise and delight consumers.”