Americans do love their chocolate. So much so that sales of chocolate candy in the United States are set to exceed $26 billion for the first time, up from $22 billion in sales estimated by the end of 2015, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.
According to the “Chocolate Candy in the U.S., 10th Edition" report, 81% of American consumers eating chocolate. The category is experiencing a strong pace of innovation, an influx of creative new players and a steady flow of new products that engage consumers.
But what else is driving the growth in the chocolate sector? The answer is a lot.
The market has continued growing despite the economic climate, underscoring consumer devotion to the product. What’s more, the growing perception of the product as an accessible luxury creates many opportunities to trade the consumer up to premium products. And let’s not overlook on of the biggest drivers: a growing body of research that supports the status of cocoa as a superfood, with multi-dimensional nutritional benefits. This positive halo around chocolate enhances its image as a guilt-free indulgence, and can ultimately drive more consumption.
It is important to note the industry has its share of challenges, including public concern about the cocoa farming process, and short-term, the supply of cocoa. Overall, the industry is poised for continued growth based on the many positive trends now unfolding in the market.
One such factor is the ability of marketers of all sizes to compete. While the market is dominated by handful of companies like Hershey and Mars there’s still opportunity for innovative chocolate makers to carve out their niche in this sweet category. And one area that comes to mind is that of better-for-you confections.
In light of increasing consumer demand for less caloric, healthier and “natural" products featuring lower sugar content and non-GMO ingredients, formulators are seeking out versatile ingredients that not only are easy to integrate into food and beverages, but also deliver specific and reliable health benefits. Thankfully, there is a burgeoning palette of ingredients from which candy makers can paint a new picture of sweetness.