National Confectioners Association report unveils core consumer buying habits

The US-based National Confectioners Association has revealed a new report exploring consumers’ major chocolate consumption patterns and preferences, writes Neill Barston.

Titled Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers 2021: Exploring Consumer Demographics, Consumption Preferences and Shopping Habits for Mainstream, Premium and Fine Chocolate, it examines key buying behaviours amid an ever-growing market.

Conducted by 210 Analytics and made financially possible by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and Barry Callebaut USA, the report provides an in-depth look at consumer perceptions regarding product ranges to help the confectionery industry optimise production, marketing, merchandising and branding decisions as they relate to everyday, premium and fine chocolate selections.

“Chocolate has always been a consumer favourite, but preferences for type and format vary widely based on consumers’ age, income and lifestyle,” John Downs, president & CEO of NCA, said. “This past year was a strong one for chocolate. COVID-19 dramatically changed shopping behaviors, spurring tremendous growth in chocolate e-commerce, for instance. The research in this new report breaks down the changes we’re seeing to help the confectionery industry continue to adapt, grow and thrive.”

The Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers 2021 report also takes a closer look at the rapidly growing fine chocolate segment, which has seen a significant increase in frequent and exclusive consumers since the start of the pandemic.

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen consumers more willing to treat themselves to a piece of fine chocolate in order to support their emotional well-being during this stressful period,” Bill Guyton, executive director of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, said.

“This wave of interest in fine chocolate has spurred all sorts of new experimentation and inclusions from the fine chocolate industry as consumers find new ways to fit fine chocolate into their everyday routines – from single origin recipes to rare ingredients,” explained the industry expert, who was recently the subject of an exclusive video interview with Confectionery Production.

Laura Bergan, Director of Marketing for the Barry Callebaut Brand, North America, agrees that consumer preferences have evolved over time. “Looking at our own consumer insights and research in parallel with watching our customers’ business, we agree there have been shifts in consumer purchases at the shelf. This research aligns with our observations that consumers are more than ever seeking chocolate experiences in their sweet treat consumption moments.” The full Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers 2021 report is available to NCA member companies at

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