If you’re looking for new trends in chocolate flavor pairings, it’s truffles, filled chocolate and panned chocolates that tend to be on the cutting edge.
When Disset Chocolate released its 2022 Easter Bonbon collection, the flavors were both unique and trend setting. They included Rosemary Infused Olive Oil Cake; Blood Orange Pate de Fruit; and Meyer Lemon Crunchy Hazelnut Praline, among others.
Founder Ursula XVII, a Michelin-trained pastry chef and chocolatier, created the palate of decadent flavors inspired by the spring season. The lineup also included Signature Sugar Cookie, Toasted Coconut with Passion Fruit Caramel, and Cheesecake with Graham Crust.
Then there’s Norman Love Confections’ 2022 Mother’s Day Collection, which also featured trend-setting chocolate flavor pairings. The heart-shaped chocolates were available in flavors such as Crèam Brûlée, Mimosa, Sangria and Snickerdoodle, among others.
There’s a saying in the confectionery sector that candy is recession proof. The theory is that even luxury chocolates cost a relatively small amount, so when times are tough, people still splurge. While the United States isn’t technically in a recession, it has endured a tumultuous economy over the last year, but sales of truffles and filled chocolates have remained strong.
Overall, sales for gift box chocolates are up 8.3 percent compared to a year ago, reaching $342.9 million.
That's according to data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. The data looks at the last 52 weeks, ending May 15.
The top-selling gift box chocolate brand was Ferrero. The brand's dollar sales were up 27.3 percent to $171.7 million. However, some of that was likely due to an increase in the price per unit, which was up 41 cents to $8.83.
Part of the brand’s success was no doubt due to innovation. The brand debuted its Ferrero Rocher Glamond Box at the Sweets and Snacks Expo. This seasonal gift box has a clear lid that gives off a glittering diamond effect, showcasing 24 Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates inside.
It also launched Grand Ferrero Rocher Dark, which features a dark chocolate shell made with 51 percent cocoa and hazelnut pieces. And it’s available in seasonal packaging for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
Ferrero also launched its Golden Gallery Signature Caramel collection, which featured an assortment of chocolates with caramel in a variety of shapes, tastes and textures. It was presented in an elegant golden tray within a luxurious box.
Coming in second among gift box chocolate brands was Russell Stover. However, despite being the second-best selling brand, its dollar sales were down 10.6 percent compared to a year ago, coming in at $54.6 million. It is also the only brand in the Top 5 that had a decrease in its price per unit, which was down 2 cents to $6.27.
Ranking third was Queen Anne, which is famous for its chocolate-covered cordial cherries. That brand's dollar sales were up 8.6 percent, to $41.8 million. And its price per unit had an increase of 6 cents, bringing it to $2.03.
The fourth highest-selling gift box chocolate brand was Godiva, which saw dollar sales increase 38.7 percent to $14.7 million. Its price per unit was up 8 cents to $11.45, which is the highest price per unit in the Top 5.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Whitman's. However, that brand's sales were down 10.9 percent to $13.3 million. The drop comes despite the fact that its price per unit had increased 50 cents to $5.80.
Other brands among the top-selling gift box chocolates also saw noteworthy changes over the last year.
Fannie May saw sales increase by 31.6 percent to $9.9 million, making it the seventh top-selling brand in the category.
The Chocmod-owned brand Prestige Confiseur had the most growth in the sector, seeing sales increase 272.6 percent, bringing dollar sales to $2.2 million.
On the other end of the spectrum, Lindt saw a steep decrease in dollar sales, which dropped 76.6 percent to $3.1 million. This is despite the fact that the brand's average price per unit was up $1.16 to $11.39.
The spectrum of dollar sale decreases and increases among the top-selling gift box chocolate brands highlights how competitive the sector can be, and how difficult it is to make a product that stands out to consumers. Brands that figure out the right formula though have a lot of potential for success.