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Europe: Global Easter chocolate launches up 23% in 2017, report

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There has been a 23% rise in Easter chocolate launches from March 2017 to February 2018, providing a plethora of chocolate choice for Easter egg hunts across the globe, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

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 the UK, South Africa, Germany (each with a 10% share) and France (9%).

Reflecting the importance of seasonal products as a whole, in 2017, 23% of global chocolate launches were positioned as seasonal, such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

Overall, the US and Germany lead in terms of total chocolate new product development (NPD), each accounting for 8% of new product launches in 2017.

This is followed by France (7%), the UK (5%) and Brazil (4%).

“Easter represents one of those ‘permissible indulgence’ moments where consumers enjoy giving and receiving chocolate treats,” says Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight, Mintel food and drink.

“The holiday also marks a time for increased innovation in confectionery as consumers seek new and novel products.”

“In the UK, for example, Easter eggs flavored with beer or stout, which were the rage in past years, have given way to new alternatives such as gin-and-tonic flavored eggs.”

“In Germany, the introduction of vegan Easter bunnies and eggs reflects the growing popularity of a plant-based diet in that country.”

Brits top of the chocs

Across the globe, the average Brit devoured 8.4 kg worth of chocolate in 2017, followed by the Swiss (8.3 kg) and the German (8.2 kg).

Within the top 10 chocolate per capita consumers, Russia experienced the biggest increase at 2.2%; meanwhile, Austria reported the sharpest decline at -1.9%.

Consumers ditch calories in favor of a permissible bite

While the lure of chocolate remains strong, it seems many consumers are enjoying it with an element of self-control.

According to Mintel GNPD, global launches of chocolate products described as ‘bites’ have grown 50% over the past five years; with ‘thins’ not far behind, increasing 48% over the same period.

But just as bite-sized formats are increasing in popularity, consumers are losing their appetite for ‘light’ versions of confectionery (such as low-sugar or low-fat varieties).

Launches of products described as ‘light’ fell by 22% between 2013 and 2017.

“The growth of bite-sized chocolate points to the ongoing trend of permissible indulgence,” said Mogelonsky.

“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.”

“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.”

Strong interest in vegan chocolate confectionery

Mintel research highlights considerable potential for vegan chocolate across Europe.

Some 55% of chocolate eaters in Spain, France (53%) and Poland (53%) are interested in vegan chocolate, with their counterparts in Italy (48%) and Germany (44%) lagging only slightly behind.

Vegan confectionery is also slowly being introduced into the UK: in 2017, 8% of chocolate launches in the UK were vegan.

“There’s currently a focus on plant-based eating in the chocolate sector,” said Mogelonsky.

“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 articulated need.”