Barry Callebaut explores major global chocolate trends for 2024

Barry Callebaut has released its latest chocolate trends study for 2024, revealing how consumers are seeking new taste experiences, as well as how they are reacting to cost increases for many product ranges around the world, reports Neill Barston.

As the company noted, the global market is anticipated to be worth more than 128 billion US$ (130 billion Euro) in international retail sales by the end of next year, forecast to deliver volume growth of 2% over the next five years.

According to the Swiss-headquartered business, against a backdrop of inflation impacting on retail prices around the world, research has indicated that half (54%) prefer to purchase premium, high-quality chocolate. This means consumers continue to treat themselves by celebrating and escaping the ordinary experience by purchasing small luxury items, such as premium and high-quality chocolate.

Significantly, as previously reported, the global market player has previously responded to these factors through significant investment in new chocolate product ranges – including the development of its ruby variety in 2017, which has gained traction around the world, Wholefruit Chocolate and last summer, saw the release of its Second Generation Chocolate, a high-end offering that has taken inspiration from artisan production methods, sourcing cacao from South America.

As for its further studies, while premium brands and options are attractive to consumer, it was found that nearly 7 out of 10 consumers (66%) are looking for better value for their money. This group is also looking for ways to get more for their money, such as buying in bulk, taking advantage of economies of scale, or switching to private-label brands. In addition, as the company noted, consumer preference reportedly appears to depend on mood or mindset In both cases, and their specific attitude towards life.

The company explored how different chocolate experiences were impacting the market – firstly examining intense, indulgent experiences, with its own research of nearly 12,000 people this August finding that 3 out of 4 consumers (74%) want to try new and exciting chocolate experiences. A total of two-thirds (65%) of consumers prefer chocolate confectionery that has multiple textures. They also want unique, rare, seasonal, and premium chocolate, especially limited editions. 50% will buy limited editions on impulse, and 64% seek out premium chocolate.

Notably, as the company found, shoppers perceive chocolates with a unique story about their origin or production as being of higher quality. According to the firm’s studies, 61% of people appreciate brand storytelling, and the same percentage actively seeks out seasonal chocolate confectionery. Significantly, the studies found that 70% of consumers want unique, exciting chocolate with multiple textures and flavours. There are three ways to deliver multi-sensoriality: offer new tastes, appeal to the eyes, or surprise with textures.

The triple play
One of the most notable areas of its studies have been in terms of mindful indulgence, where consumers are seeking premium experiences without compromising their – physical and mental – well-being, the health of others, or the planet. The company’s research showed that 3 out of 4 (75%) of global consumers agree that chocolate needs to be tasty, ‘good for me,’ and good for the planet, the Triple Play. It also found that most consumers (77%) want chocolate with less sugar. A total of 41% are trying to limit their sugar intake, and 10% are avoiding it altogether. Meanwhile, sugar reduction is an established proposition. Chocolates making most of the cacaofruit are emerging.

The study’s findings in this area are particularly notable, given that while sugar reduction would appear to be a core area of concern for consumers, the fact that few products have successfully been marketed with sugar reduction – with the likes of Cadbury Dairy Milk recently withdrawing its 30% reduced sugar options, indicating that buying behaviour has been somewhat different from aspirations. However, as Barry Callebaut has previously explained to Confectionery Production, the business has in recent years moved towards a model of creating some ranges with reduced sugar, though this has not been communicated as being a specific prime selling point within the product itself, adopting a more subtle approach to product development.

As the company’s study found, consumers are increasingly interested in natural and authentic ingredients, as well as products that are free from artificial additives and have simple ingredient lists. More than half (54%) of consumers prefer pure chocolate without e-numbers or artificial flavours and colours, while 66% are interested in chocolate confectionery that contain what they consider unhealthy ingredients. 4 in 10 (41%) of the consumers seek vegan or plant-based chocolate confectionery options.

Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and are looking for chocolate produced in a way that is sustainable and ethical. According to this year’s research, 65% of consumers choose chocolates that minimise waste and use upcycled ingredients, nearly two-thirds are actively looking for chocolates that are produced sustainably, and almost 7 out of 10 (68%) prefer chocolate brands and products that enable them to do good for people and the planet. Package (52%), human (35%), and environment (24%) are the top 3 claims of all product launches. Transparency and traceability are essential for building trust with consumers.

Regional variations
Intriguingly, the company’s studies also examined chocolate origins and how consumers respond differently around the world. This found that in Latin America, 80% of shoppers wanted to learn about origins and ingredients, whereas in North America, this was only 55%. A total of 80% of people in Latin America also preferred premium ranges, though that was only 60% in Western Europe.

One area of common agreement was that consumers in all the above regions were seeking products that were considered ‘Tasty, good for me, and good for the planet:’ while eight in ten were looking to try health-boosting chocolate product ranges.

Healthy indulgence
Significantly, consumers are said to be looking for healthy indulgence, and the majority of consumers (69%) are interested in chocolate with healthy or good ingredients, 74% want snacks that are both nutritious and energising, and 71% would like to have chocolate that supports their mental health. Its research shows that 71% of consumers globally would love a healthy-boosted chocolate with e.g. macro/micronutrients, that is +5% compared to 2022.

Notably a total of six out of ten people find claims like ‘high in protein’ appealing when it comes to chocolate. In addition to protein, they also look for nutritional products that include ingredients like vitamins, minerals, fibers, flavonols, and omega-3, which the company stated was ‘the one to watch’ in terms of categories this coming year.


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