UK chocolate bucks EU confectionery trend

By Tom Chandler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Europe, Marketing, Fudge, Mintel

Chocolate sales enjoy a tasty festive boost
Chocolate sales enjoy a tasty festive boost
Chocolate-hungry consumers are helping UK manufacturers buck the European trend of stagnant confectionery sales, according to market research organisation Mintel.

The value of chocolate sales rose 5% over the past year and more than 500 new products have been launched, said analyst Marcia Mogelonsky. Unlike many other foodstuffs, chocolate appears to be “recession-resistant”,​ she said.

New products, particularly those targeted at the festive season, played an important part in driving demand, a Mintel spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “New product development (NPD) in chocolate confectionery centres around the indulgence trend, but healthy claims are attracting more launches, even if they remain niche.

Seasonal chocolate confectionery is an important segment of the market, and the number of launches with this claim has strongly increased. Manufacturers have capitalised on this trend by intensifying NPD activity in this period, which helps to attract consumers and maintain their loyalty to the brand.”

Luxury chocolate

Chocolate maker Browne’s in Okehampton reports rapid growth – particularly in the luxury chocolate category. Its director, Joe Keohane, said the firm aimed to turn over £0.6M this financial year as it secures deals with Waitrose, Tesco, Virgin Atlantic, and Harvey Nichols. Turnover is expected to reach £2.5M next year.

The UK eats its way through 660,900t of chocolate every year, said the firm.

Herefordshire-based Hotel Chocolat reported pre-tax profits up 25% year-on-year. This includes a 12% increase in sales and efficiencies at the firm’s manufacturing site in Cambridge.

Meanwhile, Mintel reported stagnant sales for the European confectionery market over the past four years: “There is little sweet news for the European confectionery market at the moment as consumer concerns surrounding health issues such as obesity and global confectionery prices are giving the confectionery market a challenging time.”

Sales fell particularly sharply in mature markets such as Germany. Despite remaining the largest market in Europe, confectionery sales fell from €3.8bn in 2008 to an estimated €3.6bn this year.

UK confectionery sales are estimated to have remained stable at about €1.8bn from 2008.

France achieved modest growth, from €1.4bn in 2008 to an estimated €1.5bn this year.

David Jago, director of Innovation and Insight at Mintel, said: “Prolonged economic uncertainty has affected consumer confidence, and now people have started cutting down on non-essential items, affecting a market that was supposed to be recession proof.

Snacking products

“Other factors hampering sales include a plethora of other snacking products, healthy eating trends, and an ageing population. Overall, both sugar and gum confectionery markets are mature in western Europe and have little room for further growth; however eastern European markets offer more opportunities.”

But, Europe remained a key location for new confectionery product launches, said Mintel. The category pastilles, gums, jellies, and chews was responsible for the largest number of new product launches, accounting for 23% of the total.

Gum accounted for 14%, toffees, caramels and nougats for 12%, and boiled sweets 9%.

Standard and power mints made up 8% of new product launches while liquorice accounted for 8% and medicated confectionery 7%.

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