With the global COVID-19 lockdowns, just about every market has seen some extreme fluctuation, but things seem to be balancing out again as restrictions begin to relax. The chocolate industry was no different.
The world’s desert food of choice has faced ups and downs during the pandemic. Luckily, we all need our comfort food, especially when we can’t go out!
Dark chocolate is a natural mood enhancer, promotes heart health and lowers blood pressure. It’s also high in various nutrients and antioxidants, making it a healthy and tasty snack.
Let’s take a look at the chocolate statistics for 2021, as well as the various trends and a forecast for what’s to come next year in the industry.
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Industry Statistics and Trends
Despite the lockdowns, household chocolate brands have been thriving. It seems that no matter the state of people’s finances, they can always afford to buy a chocolate bar (or several).
During the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the chocolate market saw a crash but reestablished balance once again as import and export restrictions relaxed. In fact, there was a steep rise in in-home chocolate consumption during the lockdown as consumers went on a shopping frenzy to stock up on all their consumables in bulk.
The situation differed for the premium chocolate industry, which suffered severely under low sales volumes, partly as a result of the pandemic, but also due to issues regarding certification and quality control on the supply side.
However, the European market, in particular, has shown an inclination towards premium chocolate (single-origin, ethically sourced, dark, vegan, organic, hand-made, and artisanal products) rather than cheaper, less healthy options.
This shift has altered the perception of premium chocolates as consumers become more health-conscious. Europe dominates the chocolate market, with Russia being the largest consumer base, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. While major manufacturers still hold the most sway in the industry, European consumers are generally willing to pay a bit more for these high-end chocolates with less sugar and higher cocoa content.
Here are some facts and statistics about the UK chocolate industry:
- The global chocolate and confectionery production industry has a market size (measured by revenue) of £78bn in 2021.
- The market size of the industry was expected to decline by 7% in 2021
- The market size of the industry in the UK has declined by around 3.6% per year on average since 2016.
- The market size of the industry has declined faster than the rest of the economy in general.
- The main negative factors affecting market growth in the industry are high import costs and intense competition.
Chocolate Trends in 2021
Along with changes in the market, the way we consume chocolate has changed drastically. In the last year, people’s expectations and tastes in chocolate have shifted tremendously in terms of what we consider premium chocolate, and the health benefits we search for.
These are the biggest chocolate trends of 2021:
More and more people are prioritising health and wellness, and many follow diets with very specific needs. 86% of consumers around the world feel that chocolate should be both tasty and healthy. While we still want our chocolates to be a treat, there is an increased demand for healthier options to choose from. This means more dark chocolate with less sugar and higher percentages of high-quality cocoa. This trend is expected to accelerate as consumers become more health-conscious.
New combinations are forming, pairing raw chocolate with exotic and health-conscious ingredients, turning our favourite snack into something that is both tasty and has tremendous health benefits. One in five new chocolate brands that launch are vegan, which is a good indicator of where the market is headed.
Throughout the chaos that ensued during the COVID-19 pandemic, comfort food has been there to support us, and chocolate is at the top of that list. Many people look to snacks like chocolate to support their emotional wellbeing, whether they’re seeking comfort, celebrating, or simply indulging.
Trust and Sustainability
A lot of the cocoa used in chocolate is sourced from areas that support slavery and don’t harvest raw cocoa in a way that’s sustainable. More than ever, consumers (67% of them) want to know exactly where their chocolate is coming from, what’s in it, and that the labourers are treated ethically. They place value on the origin and craftsmanship of the chocolate, rather than opting for mass-produced options.
Chocolate has always been the most popular flavour for desserts and treats, and the fact that most people are now indulging in the safety of home has created a shift in the market.
75% of chocolate consumers want to have chocolate experiences that are out of the norm, and 55% feel that chocolates with multiple flavours and textures are more premium. Manufacturers and brands are now trying to come up with new and interesting ways to present chocolate to keep up with these new demands for at-home dining, while still keeping health in mind.
What To Expect For The Coming Years
According to another study conducted by EMR, the chocolate industry is expected to continue growing at a rate of 5.5% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) over the course of the next 5 years, reaching a value of nearly £108bn by 2026.
Driving factors in the market include the changes in consumer lifestyle (conscious, sustainable eating), as well as the increase of disposable income in emerging economies. Another factor is the growing understanding of the health benefits and applications of chocolate’s core ingredient, cocoa.
The Asia Pacific, China, and India in particular, is expected to be one of the fastest-growing regions in the market due to the increased influence of the Western lifestyle and a rising awareness of the health benefits of chocolate. It’s expected that these new markets will provide a substantial boom in the market over the coming years, especially during festive seasons.
Much of the market’s value is owed to impulse buying. Adults and youngsters are both likely to buy chocolates, regardless of their financial situation. This is because of the way chocolate is advertised, the packaging, and its enticing placement in food stores. This market trend is aided by the growth in income levels and the acceleration of urbanisation.
The demand for fair trade chocolates and innovations in flavour is expected to be the key trends that push the market forward over the next year.
Whether you’re a die-hard chocolate fan or you’re one of those few who doesn’t absolutely love it, chocolate is, and likely always will be, the world’s favourite treat. As the rising awareness of the healthy use of chocolate continues, the market can only benefit.