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NAPLES, N.Y. -- Dark chocolate currently makes up 33.4 percent of total chocolate candy introductions in the United States - roughly twice the 15.5 percent share that dark chocolate rollouts held for the chocolate candy category just four years ago, according to Datamonitor's Productscan Online database of new products.
The product activity is in response to interest that stems from dark chocolate's reputation for healthy attributes, a rarity in the candy category. Dark chocolate has cocoa flavanols, natural compounds found in cocoa beans that are credited with a broad range of health benefits including better blood flow and reduced risk of blood clots. However, the production process can destroy flavanol compounds, thereby mitigating the health benefits.
Still, many companies prominently display the cacao or cocoa content of their dark chocolate products, so consumers will link a high content with a healthier product. The majority of dark chocolate products rarely offer a cacao or cocoa content of more 70 percent, however, as doing so often results in bitter-tasting items.
"Dark chocolate could be the next red wine," said Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor's Productscan Online database of new products, in a statement. "Then again, the longevity of dark chocolate's run may depend upon how well it stands up to medical scrutiny, and that remains to be seen."
Mass market candies are increasingly offering Dark chocolate products, with such brands as M&M, Snickers, Nestle, and Hershey's already into the trend.
Datamonitor noted that the demand for dark chocolate is also big in the United Kingdom, Argentina, and Italy.
In the near future, dark chocolate should appear in such categories as ice cream, snacks and cooking sauces, the report predicted.
Datamonitor plc is a premium business information provider to the global consumer packaged goods industry.