Americans are sweet on chocolate. So much so that U.S. chocolate confectionery sales grew a hefty 24% between 2009 and 2014 to reach $21 billion in the United States, according to new report from Mintel. However, an increased focus on health, rising costs and competing chocolate-flavored offerings across food and beverages will slow growth to a steady 3% or $25 billion in sales by 2019.
The global chocolate confectionery market experienced some high points in 2014, especially in Asia. Growth was strong in South Korea experiencing an increase of 19% , 18% in India, 16% percent in China, and 12% in Vietnam. According to Marcia Mogelonsky, director of Insight Mintel Food and Drink, the challenges facing the global market in 2014 have been related in part to supply, as the price of cocoa increased 9 percent in the first 10 months of the year, driven up by a number of factors including increased demand, climate change and crop disease.
“Looking toward 2015 and beyond, Asia will lead the way in market growth, while established markets such as North America and Europe will grow at lower rates. Consumers in these markets tend to prefer ‘favorite’ products and are not willing to experiment with innovative or novel—and typically more expensive—products," she said.
According to Mintel, 53% of U.S. consumers eat chocolate once a week or more, and 72% of chocolate eaters consume the confectionery as a treat. What’s more, 32% of chocolate buyers purchase more chocolate around the holidays to have on hand for personal consumption, while 33% buy more chocolate around the holidays to give as gifts.
New product launches increased 18% between 2013 and 2014, with Europe accounting for 51% of all global chocolate launches, followed by Asia Pacific (21%), North America (12%), Latin America (9%) and Middle East/Africa (6%).
Chocolate confectionery innovation within the United States has been focused on seasonal products. In fact, 42% of new product launches were classified as seasonal, largely comprised of new takes on familiar products, such as a change in shape or packaging.
The global chocolate market has seen considerable innovation in flavor and texture, including flavors such as beer and yogurt capturing consumer attention. In addition to enhancing the flavor of chocolate confectionery with added ingredients, there also has been newfound focus on chocolate itself, with both white and dark chocolate gaining in popularity.
New product development continues to be imaginative, with more exploration of flavors and textures outside the sweet flavor tradition. A look at flavor activity among chocolate confectionery launches finds that plain/unflavored varieties are seeing steep declines, while products featuring nuts and nut flavors are on the increase.
Rising commodity prices for key ingredients, such as cocoa, dairy and nuts, are hitting both confectionery manufacturers and consumers. Just last summer the Hershey Company raised its wholesale prices by approximately 8% across most of its instant consumable, multi-pack, packaged candy and grocery lines. In 2014, the price of sugar was 50- to 100% higher in the United States than in global markets. As a result, 71% of consumers surveyed by Mintel are noticing price increases in chocolate confectionery, but only 3% have stopped buying chocolate as a result.