Research finds UK and US consumers retain a love for chocolate, though sales remain impacted

Latest analysis from the Mintel Research group has found UK shoppers are among the most loyal to chocolate consumers in the world, with sales of £7 billion last year, but figures are declining amid health concerns and ongoing cost of living crisis, writes Neill Barston.

According to the London-headquartered organisation, a total of 95% of Brits reach for their favourite treats at least once a week, though it found that this had in fact reduced from figures from 2022, with a number of challenges facing the sector.

As previously reported by Confectionery Production, inflation has significantly impacted consumer confidence within the past year, with retail prices increasing around 20% in many instances within the category, which has reportedly dented sales.

Mintel noted that one factor that has influenced the market is tighter restrictions on HFSS products in stores since October 2022 have impacted chocolate visibility. Consequently, it said that Impulse chocolate purchasing has declined due to reduced visibility, with a significant drop in promotional deal-driven purchases.

In its view, this had caused a decline in impulse chocolate purchasing, especially as in 2022 almost 7 in 10 British consumers declared that they impulsively buy chocolate on promotional deals. In 2023, however, only a third of British consumers said that they bought chocolate for themselves because it was on special offer.

In terms of other countries, the organisation noted that in 2023, three-quarters of Germans eat chocolate at least once a week, with more than 10% eating chocolate once a day or more. Over 50% people in the country eat chocolate to improve their mood. German consumers under 44 are more inclined to purchase single-serve bars, while older consumers prefer chocolate blocks.

Meanwhile, the US chocolate confectionery market is relatively stable, with two-thirds of Americans purchasing chocolate as a treat, and one-third purchasing chocolate as an energy boost. Mintel’s research reveals that more than four out of five American consumers are eating the same amount or more chocolate than last year.

Significantly, the company’s research asserted that the US appears to be a stable market for chocolate confectionery. It studies found that around two-thirds of American consumers purchase chocolate as a treat, compared to one-third who purchase chocolate as an energy boost, suggesting that chocolate consumption in the US is more commonly for pleasure than practicality. This is further reiterated by the fact that over half of the Americans who ate more chocolate in 2022 attributed it to an increased desire for indulgence.

The situation is a little different north of the border for Canada’s trends, where nine in ten eating chocolate regularly, it is comparatively one of the world’s smaller chocolate consumers. Mintel research noted that Canadians primarily appreciate the convenience of chocolate snacks, although some opt for more healthy options. Over 50% of those eating less chocolate and candy in Canada in 2022 have consciously made an effort to reduce their sugar intake.

Richard Caines – Senior Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel, added: “Volume sales of chocolate have declined, and there is a need to make supermarket chocolate aisles more enticing, to increase both impulse buying and gifting sales.”

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