Guest blog: The sweet treats making the headlines this Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day upon us, ingredients group ofi reflects on some of the key trends that have been making waves in the romantic gift stakes for the 2024 season,  explains Madeline Bills, the company’s Cocoa Innovation manager.

We are seeing Valentine’s Day evolving, with Gen Z and Millennials redefining traditions. Many consumers are choosing to celebrate this day with friends and family members, as well as significant others. In 2023, 40% of Gen Z and 20% of Millennials said they were planning to buy their friends a Valentine’s gift. And what better way to do so than with cocoa?

Our ofi experts explore the top chocolate, confectionery and bakery trends shaping Valentine’s Day 2024 and how manufacturers can develop new offerings to win the hearts of consumers.

“As consumers change the way they celebrate Valentine’s Day – and who they celebrate with – there is an opportunity for manufacturers to develop new products. From introducing more exotic flavors in confectionery to creating more experiential formats and expanding into new categories, we’re seeing companies inventing new ways for consumers to celebrate the season of love with those who matter most to them.”

Floral flavours bloom in confectionery
Flowers have long been a popular Valentine’s gift, but this year, we’re seeing more floral-inspired flavors spreading to confectionery. ofi’s AI-powered research tool shows that floral flavors are growing in confectionery in markets around the world, from lotus in Europe, to rose in Asia. These delicate floral flavors pair perfectly with our N23N cocoa powder, to create a romantic Valentine’s Day treat. Its bright floral and fruity notes are the perfect complement to blood orange.

We’ve seen examples of this in Singapore with Foss Chocolate’s Lychee Rose Bar, and in the UK with Fortnum and Mason’s Dark Chocolate Rose & Violet Creams, and in the US combining fruity and floral flavors with Vosges Haut-Chocolat’s Blood Orange Hibiscus Caramels, celebrating the beauty of flowers with the joy of chocolate to create a luxury Valentine’s gift.

The rise in experiential food & beverage gifting
Many consumers now say they prefer activities over physical gifts. In response, we expect an increase in the popularity of gifts like Hotel Chocolat’s Velvetised Chocolate Tasting Experience Gift Set or Flying Tiger’s Valentine’s chocolate fondue set. These products turn a traditional confectionery gift into an experience that can be enjoyed together.

To tap into this trend, manufacturers should consider trialling new product formats, such as a chocolate tasting board, to offer consumers an interactive and exciting Valentine’s experience that can be shared with others – both in person and on social media.

Bold and bright fruit flavors in the spotlight
Red and pink are synonymous with the season of love and always prove popular in Valentine’s Day food and beverage products. According to Innova, strawberry has been one of the number one flavours in Valentine’s NPD, featuring in 14% of all Valentine’s products in 2023. But this year we also expect to see brands introducing more unusual flavors to reflect Valentine’s colours as consumers seek out more adventurous tastes. Leonidas’ Cherry Liquor Cream Gift Box in the UK, Fu Wan Chocolate Rose Lychee White Chocolate Bar in Taiwan or Rakka’s Dragonfruit Chai chocolate in the US still create the familiar pink and red colours we all know and love, but with an exciting flavour twist. In ofi’s recent research, we also highlighted how manufacturers could pair Dragon Fruit with our deZaan N11N cocoa powder, to create a bright and punchy dessert or pastry filling, with a more unique flavor profile.

Premium pastries rival confectionery
Chocolate and confectionery have long been staple Valentine’s Day gifts, but this year bakery items, including luxury pastries, could take center stage as a different way to treat loved ones, driven by growing conversation on TikTok, with ‘Pastry’ receiving 937.5m views.

The classic croissant has earned a place in the hearts of consumers but is being refreshed with new formats and flavors that give a premium feel – from the ring shaped ‘cronut’ to the croissant cube, and flavours ranging from chocolate to pistachio and hazelnut. We’ve found that our D23ZR cocoa powder blends beautifully with black sesame in a chocolate croissant, providing a new, and extra indulgent treat to share this Valentine’s Day

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