Shoppers are analysing the environmental impacts of chocolate production, and its contents, more than ever before, claimed the Global Trends report. Cargill’s marketing director for cocoa and chocolate in Europe Nikas Andersson said consumers wanted chocolate “that tastes good, is good, helps them to be good and does good”.
“Today’s discerning consumer is looking beyond value for money,” Andersson said. “Meeting these desires presents real challenges for food manufacturers and they need the ingredients and innovation capabilities to make the products that reflect today’s trends.”
Consumers want an ever-more indulgent chocolate, with improved flavour, texture and colour, the report claimed. Vegetable and chocolate combinations are becoming popular among shoppers – for example, beetroot in a chocolate red velvet cake. Including larger chocolate chunks or creamy layers made texture more indulgent, Cargill said.
Chocolate manufacturers should highlight where the product was made, as shoppers preferred to buy locally, the report found. It said demand for premium products was at an “all-time high”, as manufacturers took more inspiration from the artisanal industry.
Consumers are increasingly avoiding ingredients they perceived as unhealthy. Lactose-free, gluten-free, and reduced sugar products were becoming more popular, as were products with milk alternatives – for example, coconut or almond milk – the report revealed. It also said protein-based chocolate products had broken free of the sports nutrition niche.
Manufacturers should use “clean and clear” labelling to answer consumers’ need for greater transparency. Where ingredients came from, how it was made and its environmental impact was a big concern to today’s shoppers, Cargill said. Certified chocolate products were growing in popularity, as were using real fruit and plant extracts for natural colouring, rather than e-numbers.
Andersson said: “Whether working in confectionery, biscuits, bakery, cereals, dairy or ice cream, our report provides real insights that can help manufacturers get a head start on the competition when creating new products and innovations.”
Meanwhile, Nestlé UK & Ireland claimed to be the first confectionery business in both countries to source 100% certified sustainable cocoa last year.
Top four chocolate consumer trends
Indulgence: “Today’s consumer is looking for an ever-more indulgent experience, across flavour, texture and colour, inspiring new levels of creativity in sweet foods around the world.”
Premium: “Demand for premium products is at an all-time high, with provenance and origin being key among cocoa and chocolate products.”
Health: “How diet affects health and wellness is increasingly on consumers’ minds, leading them to avoid ingredients perceived as unhealthy, and looking for those perceived as healthy.”
Sustainability: “Where food comes from, how it is produced, and its true ethical and environmental cost, really matter to today’s consumer.”