Sharp global rise in chocolate confectionery launches for Easter

A sharp increase in the level of confectionery being produced for Easter has been recorded by latest figures from Mintel, which revealed a 23% rise over last year.

As the research group highlights, there has never been more choice for consumers, with Brazil accounting for 11% of chocolate launches, followed closely by the UK, South Africa, Germany on 10%, while France held a 9% market share.

Its findings revealed that Brits had the greatest level of chocolate consumption, with the average person in the UK eating 8.4kg during 2017. The research group forecasts that sales of Easter gifting products (such as confectionery, in-home food/drink, flowers etc.) will rise 2.6% in 2018, making the seasonal retail event worth an estimated £590 million to UK retailers.

From the latest statistics, it emerged that Switzerland was close behind Britain in the chocolate consumption stakes, with its population averaging 8.3kg, closely followed by Germany at 8.2kg.
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%.

According to Mintel’s studies, seasonal launches accounted for 23% of global launches – with Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween proving the key dates.

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. The closest nations to America were France (7%), UK (5%) and Brazil (4%).

Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight, Mintel Food and Drink, explained that demand for confectionery was particularly strong during established holiday periods.

She said: “Easter represents one of those ‘permissible indulgence’ moments where consumers enjoy giving and receiving chocolate treats.

“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 flavoured with beer or stout, which were the rage in past years, have given way to new alternatives such as gin-and-tonic flavoured 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

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. Pre-measured, 100 calorie packs of chocolate or other treats have fallen from favour 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,” added the insights expert.

In addition, the organisation’s research highlights considerable potential for vegan chocolate across Europe. More than half of chocolate eaters in Spain (55%), 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.

Marcia Mogelonsky continued: “There’s currently a focus on plant-based eating in the chocolate sector. 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.”

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