CHICAGO — Seasonal items accounted for a quarter of global chocolate new product launches in 2016, representing the biggest area of new product development in the category, according to research from Mintel. Twenty-eight per cent of seasonal launches last year were positioned for Easter, Mintel said.
|Marcia Mogelonsky, director of Insight, Mintel Food and Drink|
“Our research shows that seasonal chocolate tops all chocolate new product development, a testament to the popularity of seasonal treats among consumers across the globe,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, director of Insight, Mintel Food and Drink. “This reflects the fact that these products are typically bought to help celebrate holidays or special occasions. With this in mind, seasonal chocolate is somewhat immune to recessionary pressures as these products are bought on an occasional basis.”
The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa., which offers 150 seasonal candy items for Easter, including 12 new products this year, said it sells the top five most popular Easter items with the top two overall brands, Reese’s and Cadbury. Among new items this year are Reese’s White Peanut Butter Eggs, Hershey’s Kisses Carrot Cake Candies, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg and Cadbury Chocolate Crunch & Crème Mini Eggs.
“Following each season, our team looks at information about how people celebrated the holiday, what they bought and what they were posting and pinning on social media,” Jan Grinstead, senior manager, Easter for Hershey, wrote in a corporate blog. “We then meet with our retail partners to listen and learn about their insights and interests and put plans for next year in motion — while at home we’re celebrating the start of summer.”
New Easter offerings from Mars Chocolate, Hackettstown, N.J., include M&M’s Peanut Butter Speckled Eggs, M&M’s White Chocolate Candies and Dove Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs. Nestle USA, Glendale, Calif., has added a Nestle Crunch Egg and a Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups Egg to its seasonal lineup.
Overall, the number of chocolate confectionery launches in 2016 increased just 3% from the prior year.
The chocolate confectionery market has seen slow growth in recent years, with volume sales declining in some established markets from 2015 to 2016. Sales were flat over the two-year period in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, while sales fell in Russia (2%), Brazil (6%) and China (6%).
While the U.K. leads in per capita consumption of chocolate, the U.S. tops in volume sales, consuming an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of chocolate in 2016. This compares to 979 thousand tonnes consumed by Russia, 680 thousand tonnes consumed by Germany and 555 thousand tonnes consumed by the U.K., according to Mintel.
“Chocolate confectionery had an uneven year in 2016,” Ms. Mogelonsky said. “Volume sales in developed markets like the U.S. remained flat, while the picture was a bit brighter in emerging markets like Poland and India, where sales generally fared better. Our research reveals that changes in per capita consumption points to an important shift in consumers’ eating habits, as consumption of chocolate confectionery is declining in the top five markets.“The big issues revolve around permissibility and the blurring of lines between snacks and confectionery. Even though boundaries are fading, there is still something about chocolate confectionery that has remained constant. Chocolate is still a treat, and, as something special, it typically gets a pass. While consumers may be looking for more healthy foods, they will trade health for indulgence when it comes to chocolate.”