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- The United States and Canadian markets are continuing to experience low levels of growth, with the United States further ahead in volume consumption per capita.
- The chocolate confectionery market in the United States grew by just 3 percent in 2012 and improved only slightly in 2013. The market is extremely mature and faces challenges in pricing and consumer perceptions of health.
- Innovation declined by 7 percent in the category in the 12 months to April 2013, following a similar drop the previous year. Seasonal chocolate accounts for a third of all launches, while development of non-individually wrapped chocolate pieces has dropped.
- There was once a big gap between mass-market chocolate and premium offerings. This has, however, thinned in recent years, leading to a whole raft of mass-premium products.
- As a result, premium manufacturers, including Lindt, Godiva and Perugina, now appear in mainstream supermarket channels, while mass-market brands “up-sell”
- to a premium level.
- Premium chocolate has high penetration in North America. In fact, 86 percent of U.S. chocolate consumers say they buy premium chocolate. Those with higher incomes are more likely to buy premium chocolate, with 94 percent of consumers earning a salary of $150,000 and higher saying that they eat it. However, consumption is still high at lower incomes, with 80 percent of chocolate consumers earning less than $25,000 also buying premium products.
- Chocolate innovation is increasingly being influenced by a wider variety of other food and drink categories, among them salty snacks, biscuits, and sugar and gum.
What Does it Mean?
- Mainstream brands should be looking to experiment with premium markers, such as cocoa content and provenance, as the mass market catches up with high-end producers.
- More high-end premium concepts, such as single-origin and heirloom chocolate products, are still in their infancy, but could have significant potential in a market where consumers are looking for upscale options.
- American consumers are looking for chocolates with additional ingredients. Brands can take an indulgent route by adding in biscuits, cake and confectionery, or a better-for-you approach with fruit, seeds and grains.
- The add-ins most valued by consumers are, however, more established ingredients such as nuts, suggesting that manufacturers may have more success by continuing to innovate in this area, with a focus on unusual varieties and provenance.
Consumers are attracted to premium chocolate for a number of reasons; for example, 89 percent of U.S. chocolate consumers buy the product as a “treat or reward.”
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