Bernie Pacyniak

About a week or so ago, New York City-based Packaged Facts released its latest report on chocolate: “Chocolate Market in the U.S.: Trends and Opportunities in Premium, Gourmet and Mass Chocolate Products.”
After reading the press release, I asked the good folks at Packaged Facts if they could send me an executive summary for review. After all, being a member of the media should have some privileges.
 Naturally, they agreed, knowing I’d source them for all the information provided. But before I throw out some positive numbers, let me first point out one stat that caught my eye: Per capita chocolate consumption by volume peaked at 12.6 lbs. in 2005, falling off 6.4% to 11.8 lbs. in 2009. The value of per capita consumption, however, increased 1.9% to $56.27.
Essentially, the American consumer is buying less chocolate, but spending more. That’s one of those good news/bad news scenarios. Actually, from my perspective, it more of a “golden opportunity” for the industry. That “gold” stems from chocolate’s upside marketability, a product that contains a broad range of positive health attributes. I believe that the potential hasn’t been fully tapped, and that’s where the industry’s challenge lies.
But let me toss out some other stats -- a more complete summary will appear in the September issue of Candy Industry -- and highlight some trends that the analysts at Packaged Facts have identified as growth avenues.
First, retail sales of chocolate topped $17.3 billion in 2009, a 2.8% jump from 2008 … and a new record. Volume was up 3.1%, but that stems in large part from increased imports, the researchers note.
Second, Packaged Facts predicts that sales will top $19 billion in 2014, averaging a 3% growth rate in sales.
Third, premium chocolate sales in 2009 ranged between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion in 2009, accounting for 12-14% of all chocolate sales.
As the writers of the report emphasize, the “demand for premium chocolate will continue as a leading growth trend in the U.S. chocolate industry, especially when the economy recovers.”
Now, if we can only get that economic recovery out of first gear. But hey, that’s a topic for another time. Finally, just some bullet points on up-and-coming trends within the premium chocolate market:
 -- Craft chocolate making, sometimes referred to as craft, bean-to-bar or micro-batch chocolate
-- Savory-inspired flavors: everything from olive oil, bacon and cheese to curry and chipotle in bonbons and truffles
-- Exotic flavors: It’s about experiences, not just consumption.
-- Raw cacao products: a reaction to over-processed, over-engineered foods
-- Vegan chocolate: According to Packaged Facts, new vegan-labeled chocolate products have increased 52% per year (a 5-year CAGR) to a forecasted 32 new products in 2010 or 1% of all new product reports.
-- Wine-themed chocolate products: Chocolate without wine, like a day without sunshine.
-- Upscale chocolate candy bars: It’s not just indulgent. it’s healthier and portion-controlled.
-- Exotic delivery methods: Le Whif’s the trailblazer.
-- Beyond bars: Artisan chocolatiers are serving up “tasting tiles” and disks as a means of differentiating their products.
-- Extreme milk chocolate: Dark milk chocolate -- above 40% cocoa mass -- combines silkiness with less sugar, more antioxidants.
-- Use of alternative distribution channels: Think Tupperware parties, aka Mars’ Dove Chocolate Discoveries.

Two trends that Packaged Facts believes are beginning to wane: extreme dark chocolate and single-origin chocolates. I think there’s more play there; it’s just a matter of education, another industry challenge.
I know, a lot to digest, but it’s all good and healthy for you.
For more info about the report, visit