Research finds seasonal launches accounted for 25% of global chocolate new product launches in 2016, the biggest area of chocolate new product development (NPD), according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).
In 2016, 28% of seasonal launches globally were positioned for Easter, highlighting the ongoing popularity of eggs, bunnies and other chocolate treats.
Those countries accounting for the most Easter chocolate innovation include Brazil, which accounted for 14% of global Easter chocolate product launches, France with an 11% share and South Africa with a 10% share.
IN the UK, consumers spent £374 million on Easter confectionery.
Mintel research reveals that confectionery continues to drive Easter purchases in the UK with 49% of Easter shoppers buying chocolate gifts in 2016.
Expenditure on confectionery accounted for approximately 68% of all Easter product spending.
Overall, launch activity in the confectionery category was restrained in 2016.
The number of chocolate confectionery launches globally grew by just 3% between 2015 and 2016.
When it comes to chocolate spend per head, the UK is top of the leaderboard.
In 2016, the average consumer indulged in 8.61 kg of chocolate (per capita).
This was followed by Switzerland with 8.59 kg (per capita), Germany with 8.32 kg (per capita), Russia with 6.57 kg (per capita) and Austria at 5.37 kg (per capita).
The UK and Switzerland have been vying for the top chocolate spot for some years now.
For example, in 2013, Switzerland reigned supreme with per capita consumption at 9.3kg.
While the international appeal of chocolate is unquestionable, Mintel research indicates a change in consumers’ eating habits among the top five chocolate markets as per capita consumption in the UK remained flat between 2015 and 2016; in Germany and Austria it fell 1% (respectively); and in Switzerland, per capita consumption of chocolate confectionery was down 3%.
While the UK is number one in terms of per capita consumption, when it comes to volume sales the US leads the way.
In 2016, the US consumed 1.3 million tons worth of chocolate, followed by Russia in second place at 979,000 tons and Germany at 680,000 tons.
The UK comes in fourth place at 555,000 tons and France in fifth place with 251,000 tons.
Across the globe, Brazil (236,000 tons), India (228,000 tons) and China (202,000 tons) all share a love of the sweet stuff, guzzling in excess of 200,000 tons of chocolate last year.
Meanwhile, in Japan, consumers consumed 174,000 tons of chocolate, higher than Canada at 148,000 tons.
In Australia (95,000 tons), Indonesia (94,000 tons) and South Africa (68,000 tons) consumption was below 100,000 tons.
In recent years, the chocolate confectionery market has continued to see growth, though at a very slow rate, and in some established markets volume sales declined between 2015 and 2016.
In the US, UK, Germany and France, sales were flat over the two-year period, while sales fell in Russia (-2%), Brazil (-6%) and China (-6%).
The only markets among the top 10 globally to see any growth were Poland (+2%) and India, which saw an impressive 13% growth increase between 2015 and 2016.
“Our research reveals that changes in per capita consumption points to an important shift in consumers’ eating habits, as consumption of chocolate confectionery is flat or declining in the top five markets,” says Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight.
“The big issues revolve around permissibility and the blurring of lines between snacks and confectionery.”
“Even though boundaries are fading, there is still something about chocolate confectionery that has remained constant.”
“Chocolate is still a treat and, as something special, it typically gets a pass. While consumers may be looking for healthier foods, they will trade health for indulgence when it comes to chocolate.”
CSR, organic chocolate
Proving chocolate lovers have a heart, interest in ethical products remains relatively strong, with 17% of new products claiming some sort of ‘ethical-human’ positioning, which could include fair trade, Rainforest Alliance or some other independent ‘bean-to-bar’ certification.
Although still a small part of the category, accounting for less than 6% of global new product introductions in 2016, launches of chocolate confectionery with an organic claim increased 6% between 2014 and 2016.
Consumer demand is likely to be the major impetus for more conversion to organic offerings.
In the US, 15% of chocolate buyers purchase organic products.
In Europe, interest is uneven with 14% of Italian chocolate eaters considering organic to be an important factor when buying chocolate, compared with just 4% of Polish chocolate eaters.
Despite this, Europe represents the region with the majority of organic chocolate product launches over the past three years, according to Mintel GNPD.
Germany leads, accounting for 23% of global organic chocolate product launches, followed by France at 11%.
Germany is also a major market for all natural (7%) and no additives/preservatives (7%) chocolate product launches.
Elsewhere in Europe, demand for healthier sweets is strong.
In Spain, 60% of sweet eaters say there are not enough healthy sweets available.
This view is shared among sweet eaters in Poland and France (58% respectively), markets that are not as well served by better-for-you confectionery.
“In order to satisfy the growing demand, it will become necessary for more cocoa growers to switch to organic farming methods,” says Mogelonsky.
“As interest in healthy sweets continues to rise, the availability of chocolate that offers organic or all natural positioning will be desirable as consumers look for better-for-you options.”