According to a survey conducted by Nielsen, there was an 18.5 percent increase in chocolate sales during the health emergency. This growth has been maintained even after the reduction of restrictive measures, causing home consumption to increase.
Every year an Italian consumes about 4kg of chocolate: whether in bar format or other types, the chocolate sector is worth nearly 2 billion euros.
On the occasion of World Chocolate Day, Just East analyzed the trend of orders over the past year: in 2020, more than 15,000kg of chocolate was ordered at home, a growth of +35% over the previous year, and orders for more than 9,000kg of chocolate were recorded in the first months of the year.
According to the latest analysis by Mintel – an international market research company – the trends that will drive the chocolate market are:
- flavor innovation;
- reduction of sugar percentage.
In fact, confectioners and chocolatiers are innovating their offerings with products that stimulate the senses through flavors and colors, while at the same time being attentive to consumer needs by using authentic, quality ingredients.
Taste and quality predominate among consumer expectations, alongside the sustainability that producers must have, communicating their values and commitment to people and the environment. Also important is the issue of product traceability from the cocoa bean.
Italy also distinguished itself at the International Chocolate Awards, the international competition that recognizes excellence in the field of chocolate production. In fact, among the awardees we find numerous Italian producers who confirmed the excellence of master chocolatiers by bringing home awards in several categories.
ITALIAN CHOCOLATE AROUND THE WORLD
Italy is the seventh largest importer of cocoa beans in Europe. Almost all imported cocoa beans are processed locally and only about 1.4 percent are re-exported to other countries. With over 99 thousand tons in 2019 worth €221 million, Italy accounts for about 4.1 percent of all European cocoa bean imports. The vast majority of these imports (86 percent) come directly from producing countries. Between 2015 and 2019, Italian imports of cocoa beans remained stable.
Italian chocolate exports are estimated at about 346 thousand tons in 2019. This is 8.6 percent of the total volume of European exports and ranks Italy as the fifth largest chocolate exporter in Europe. Between 2015 and 2019, Italian exports increased in volume at an average annual rate of 6.9 percent. Ferrero, Elah Dufour Group, Nestlé, Barry Callebaut and Perugina are examples of companies with production plants in Italy. The European market is confirmed as the favored trading market for Italy, absorbing, by 2021, more than 70 percent of volume and turnover of Italian exports of chocolate and cocoa products. Worth more than 1.2 billion euros. Leading the ranking of the main target countries for Italian exports are France and Germany – with a market share of 18.4 percent and 8.8 percent of the total, respectively. They are followed by the United Kingdom, Spain and Belgium. The remaining 55 percent, on the other hand, includes all other countries outside the European area, including the United States, Russia and Israel.
Most sales come through supermarkets, which have 77.1 percent relative penetration. But the distance with the second channel, the discount store, is getting smaller since, as Gfk notes, it is chosen by one in two chocolate buyers and the average purchase level is quite high. This is also reflected in the discounters’ assortments, which are increasingly broad and segmented to meet all needs, from premium specialty to product from an ethical circuit, such as Fairtrade or Utz certified.
But it is not only at Lidl, Aldi or Eurospin that the supply of chocolate is increasing but rather throughout the large-scale retail trade, with the arrival of new brands (such as Sperlari, which has made its debut in pralines) and the entry of historic brands into other market segments, as happened with the launch of Ferrero Rocher bars. New product innovations follow one another at a relentless pace. In most cases they aim to take consumers by the throat, offering versions enriched with fine ingredients (such as açai) or single-origin cocoa (as Amedei and Vanini have done), or they exploit the appeal of limited editions, such as Ritter Sport’s winter edition and like Dolce&Gabbana’s signature Baci Perugina.
In dark, milk, white and gianduia flavors, alongside the classic 100-gram sizes, chocolate bars are now also sold in single-serving packages, to satisfy a sudden “craving for goodness” or recharge your energy when you are fatigued by study or work.
The imagination of manufacturing companies is fully manifested in the creation of chocolates, which marry the excellent quality of chocolate with other ingredients such as hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cherries and creams. Available in a wide variety of formats and flavors, the chocolates satisfy not only the most discerning palates, but also seduce the eye, thanks to the elegant gift boxes in which they are often presented, and the practical cases containing a few pieces, a convenient solution for quick and tasty snacks.
Spreads are an all-Italian product: several generations of children grew up eating breakfast and snacks with bread or rusks spread with this delicious hazelnut and low-fat cocoa mixture. A healthy injection of energy to face a busy day.
The Easter egg sums up tradition and innovation, magic and anticipation, sweetness and affection, winning hearts and palates. But there is something more that makes the chocolate egg a magical object of desire: the surprise, an invention that is absolutely “made in Italy” and still widespread exclusively in our country. Enhancing this ancient tradition has certainly been helped by the creativity of manufacturing companies, which every year come up with attractive wrappers and eye-catching, imaginative and fun surprises.
Chocolate snacks are the bars and bars covered in chocolate and filled with cookie, wafer, milk, caramel, hazelnut or other. A tasty, energy-packed snack that is convenient because it is packaged in small individual portions, ideal for a break when playing sports or on a work break.
OTHER COCOA PRODUCTS
Instant cocoa preparations and cocoa powder are used to make steaming cup chocolates, delicious homemade desserts or to put more flavor and energy into children’s milk at breakfast.
Chocolate couvertures, cocoa powder for industrial use, surrogate couvertures and cocoa butter: these are products intended for use by other industrial and artisan companies in the production of chocolate products or as fillings and couvertures for cookies and other baked goods, confectionery products and ice cream. Semi-finished products account for about a quarter of all industrial cocoa production.
FUTURE FORECAST OF THE EUROPEAN CHOCOLATE MARKET 2022 – 2027
The European chocolate market was valued at $44,762.65 million in 2022 and is expected to register a CAGR of 4.79% during the forecast period (2022-2027).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumption of traditional chocolate remained stable; however, the artisanal chocolate segment experienced slow growth in the European market. According to a survey conducted by the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on small chocolate businesses, the cancellation of industry events was the main cause of the decline in craft chocolate sales. In addition, lower consumer demand played a role.
The European chocolate market is highly competitive, with several leading players holding most of the market share. Increased demand and the growing popularity of dark and organic chocolates are fueling market growth. In addition, seasonal demand plays an important role in chocolate sales. Several companies launch a wide range of chocolate varieties on occasions such as Easter. Factors such as shape, innovation, combining multiple flavors, and packaging of chocolates are the key strategies adopted by companies to achieve maximum sales during the holidays.
Health concerns related to high sugar content are holding back the market, but dark and premium chocolates are capturing market share. Companies are evolving with innovative models and new trends moving toward human health and wellness, attracting a customer base and brand equity.
CHOCOLATE MARKET TRENDS
Conformity with “Better for you” and “Free from” products.
Rising health consciousness among European consumers and the resulting increased awareness of the disadvantages of consuming sugar-enriched confectionery is fueling sales of organic chocolate, sugar-free chocolate and vegan chocolate in the European market. In connection with the growing demand for vegan and organic chocolate, major players are launching innovative organic chocolates to sustain themselves in the long run. For example, luxury chocolate brand Love Cocoa has introduced the first vegan chocolate with avocado in Europe. It is made with 100 percent natural freeze-dried avocado powder. In addition, companies are introducing new packaging solutions to increase the shelf life of products, thus reviving consumer interest in their chocolate brands.
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