A recently released report from research company Mintel, Chocolate Confectionery – US 2015, shows just how strong the chocolate market is in the U.S. Sales of chocolate confectioneries hit $21 billion, a whopping 24 percent increase from 2009 to 2014.
And I’m not talking about your traditional Hershey or Snickers bars (though those are included in the sales). According to Mintel, “Chocolate innovation has increased, with new product launches growing 18 percent between 2013 and 2014.”
America (no surprise here) is the world’s largest chocolate market—about 85 percent of us buy chocolate every year. But, Mintel reports, “the pace of growth slowed [here] in 2014” while the pace of “growth was strong in South Korea, India, China and Vietnam.” Still, Mintel predicts “steady growth through 2019, with the U.S. chocolate market reaching $25 billion.”
So how much chocolate do we actually consume? More than half of Americans (53 percent) eat chocolate at least once a week. Not surprisingly, chocolate consumption increases around holidays, with around 33 percent of consumers buying more chocolate for personal consumption at those times, and another 33 percent buying more chocolate to give as gifts.
Chocolate is considered “a treat” by more than 70 percent of consumers. Twenty-nine percent go so far as to call it “mood enhancing” (41 percent of younger Millennials, aged 18 to 24, define chocolate that way).
As the chocolate market has gone more upscale, so have the preferences of chocolate consumers. Mintel reports that 71 percent of chocolate buyers reject plain chocolate and prefer it with “mix-ins,” like potato chips and bacon.
Not all the chocolate news is good. Unfortunately, American chocolatiers are losing the innovation battle to European chocolate-makers. Over half of all new chocolate product launches between 2013 and 2014 came from Europe; only 12 percent originated in North America.
American chocolate innovation is mainly about seasonal introductions and is “largely comprised of new takes on familiar products, such as a change in shape or packaging,” says Mintel. Reflecting the current popularity of mix-ins, most new launches featured chocolate with nuts and nut flavors.
Another positive about the chocolate market—chocoholics are rarely concerned about price increases, making chocolate an especially sweet business to get into.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.