Snacks & Candy

Premium Chocolate Driving U.S. Sales Growth

Dark chocolate, healthy ingredients spur innovation

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Premium chocolate is driving innovation and sales, growing faster than sales of "everyday" chocolate in the overall U.S. chocolate market, according to a new report from Packaged Facts.

Chocolate is an "accessible luxury" for all ages, ethnicities and demographics, and consumers are willing to trade up to premium products, the report said. Add to that the pace of innovation and a steady influx of new players and products, and the U.S. chocolate market is poised for sales increases through 2020 and beyond, the report said. Of that anticipated sales growth, premium is leading the way.

Published in its 11th edition of the "Chocolate Candy Market in the U.S." report, Packaged Facts looked at the market for chocolate candy across the U.S. retail spectrum, including supermarkets and grocery stores, convenience stores, supercenters/mass merchandisers, gourmet/specialty food stores, warehouse clubs, drug stores, gourmet/specialty food stores, vending, direct-sales channels including online, candy shops and specialty chocolatiers, and alternative channels such as department stores, kitchenware stores and bookstores.

The report, released in late August, said premium chocolate has spurred innovation in clean-label products, as well as new flavor trends.

"The premium segment thrives on dark chocolate, single origins and inclusions of healthy ingredients, such as lavender and blueberry," said David Sprinkle, research director for Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts.

Major players in the premium tier, including Godiva, Lindt, and Ghirardelli, have added new flavors, he said. Lindt, for example, has a limited-time offer of pumpkin-spice Lindor truffles this fall. Smaller players, such as Albanese of Merrillville, Ind., also have introduced premium chocolate, including a new line of blueberries covered with dark chocolate that was presented at the recent McLane National Trade Show.  

The report said that while everyday chocolate still dominates the overall market, accounting for 82% of industry sales, sales growth has been flat or negligible. Premium chocolate experienced a stronger growth rate of roughly 5% compared to 2015. This upward growth for premium chocolate sales is expected to continue, according to Packaged Facts.

The report includes data gathered from interviews with confectionery market sources, on-site examination of retail venues and a proprietary online consumer survey, as well as internet research. Sales estimates also include IRI data for mass-market channels and SPINS scan data for natural supermarkets.

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