Choice is key for chocolate consumers

Friday, 17 May, 2019

Choice is key for chocolate consumers

Preferences for types of chocolate, cacao percentages and added flavours vary widely among consumers, meaning it is key to provide choice, a report has revealed.

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) released a report, in collaboration with the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) and 210 Analytics, called ‘Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers’, which took a detailed look at consumer demographics, consumption preferences and shopping habits in the US. 

“This deep analysis of the chocolate consumer should be helpful to everyone in the industry — from manufacturers to suppliers and our retail customers,” said John Downs, NCA President and CEO. “Understanding how people enjoy chocolate helps us develop a clearer idea of what lies ahead for this very important part of the confectionery industry. Chocolate is a significant piece of our industry, representing about 60% of the confectionery industry’s sales, or nearly $21 billion annually.”

The survey distinguished between three main types of chocolate: mainstream chocolate, such as Hershey or Snickers, which is enjoyed by 90% of consumers; premium chocolate, such as Lindt or Ferrero, enjoyed by 70%; and fine chocolate, which is made by small artisan chocolatiers and enjoyed by 27%.

Milk chocolate was the highest preference among consumers (37%), but the report found preferences for dark chocolate increase with age. Cacao percentage was listed as a factor influencing purchasing decisions for dark chocolate and fine chocolate. Most consumers look for cacao shares between 66–80%, and fine chocolate consumers preferred higher cacao shares.

“We found that the fine chocolate consumer is generally younger, more socially conscious and more driven by experimentation and trial, even if they already have a favourite chocolatier,” said Bill Guyton, Executive Director of FCIA. “Fine chocolate consumers believe small-batch chocolate has a superior taste and are willing to seek it out, visiting farmers’ markets, festivals and specialty online channels more frequently than other chocolate consumers.”

Millennials were also particularly concerned about certifications and ingredient claims, such as vegan, gluten-free or raw, according to the report.

“The insights show that millennials are changing purchasing patterns for chocolate, with an above-average preference for fine chocolate and likelihood for purchasing treats at supercentres, specialty/organic stores and alternative channels,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics. 

Find out more at the ‘Getting to Know the (Fine) Chocolate Consumer’ session at the 2019 Sweets & Snacks Expo on 22 May.

Image credit: ©arinahabich/Dollar Photo Club

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