European nations lead upturn on spending for Christmas chocolate confectionery, says latest study

European nations are leading the way for spending on chocolate this Christmas, with many countries experiencing a welcome upturn in sales, according to latest research from Euromonitor, reports Neill Barston.

Studies from the research group have found that Switzerland leads the way in average seasonal treat consumption in 2023, managing $48 per person, followed by $28 in US, $18 in Belgium, and $17 in Germany, leading the pack for consumption per capita.

As Confectionery Production reported earlier this week, there have also been strong festive sales of chocolate confectionery within the UK, which have reportedly been driven largely by the ongoing cost of living crisis that has led consumers to select less costly presents amid facing pressure on inflated costs for food across all categories including sweets and snacks, as well comparative hikes in personal household bills.

Moreover, as Euromonitor noted, the strongest markets for seasonal chocolate in retail volume terms in 2023 are forecast to be Western Europe (271 thousand tonnes, USD6.2billion), North America (156 thousand tonnes, USD4.4billion) and the USA (USD3.9billion). The Middle East and Africa (4.8%) and Eastern Europe (4%) are forecast to see the largest growth. Notably, the organisation confirmed that countries leading the charge for growth include Poland at  (6.1%), (5.7%), Slovakia (5.4%), South Africa (5.4%) and Bulgaria (5.3%).

Significantly, the group’s statistics revealed that seasonal chocolate declined during Covid-19, yet are set to grow to USD15.2 billion by 2028, as major brands pull out the stops to deliver new innovations, particularly within the luxury chocolate market.

In 2021, the seasonal chocolate market grew by 4.2% in retail value. The market recovered after Covid-19 when there was a decline of -4.6% in retail value in 2020. It is expected that in 2023 the market will grow by 0.2% in retail value terms surpassing 575 thousand tonnes and reaching a retail value of USD15.2 billion in 2028.

Carl Quash III, Head of Packaged Foods, Snacks and Nutrition, at Euromonitor International, said: “When it comes to seasonal chocolates, Europeans consume and spend more than any other region around the world. Whether for stocking fillers, warm winter treats or a coffee companion, chocolate can be seen in high demand around Christmas.

“Nearly half of European consumers believe it is important to spend money on experiences. Snacks will be finding their way around this holiday season as part of gift exchanges, office parties, city holiday events and more.

“Europe appears to be entering a period of easing economic pressures allowing consumer goods companies to bring down prices – right in time for Christmas. This should benefit seasonal candies and other snack categories as consumers’ pocket will have that additional stretch.

As the research group noted, major brands appeared to be on to a sweet deal in terms of market share, particularly with regard to boxed chocolates, as Hershey’s grabbed 8% of the market, followed by Lindt (6.9%) and Reese’s (5.6%) in third. Cadbury’s is in fourth place (4.6%). This reflected a general trend that consumers – who have often claimed to be seeking healthier options, had in fact given up on dieting, and regard Christmas as a time to indulge.

Quash III said: “More consumers have forsaken calorie counting, tracking intake and dieting in general this year with other concerns to prioritise. This year’s winter holidays are going to be a time where consumers allow themselves to indulge.

“About one in 10 European consumers typically snack to treat themselves. Snacking is one of those harder to avoid habits during Christmas with enticing treats and the contagious seasonal spirit all around.

“Holidays are an important time for getting together with friends and family and enjoying each other’s company. Allowing consumers to deepen joy in the presence of the moment is the goal for social snacks such as chocolate during the festive season.

“During the 2022 Christmas season Confectionery and Savoury Snack categories saw a spike in online sales across European markets like the UK, France, and Germany. I’d imagine we see a similar trend this year as consumers find comfort in eating treats during holiday festivities.”

Furthermore, the analyst added that with the diverse nature of groups’ food preferences during holiday gatherings, it is important to offer variety. Variety packs, bulk offerings, and mixes are all ways for manufacturers to deliver.

“Gatherings can be an opportunity to elevate the experiential dimensions of snacks. Flavour is one of the most important features of snacking. A great-tasting snack should give consumers more reasons to socialise, bond and enjoy. Now with affordable, private label and bargain shopping on the rise amid high costs, consumers are looking to pair taste with value.”



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