Chocolate tablet sales recover lost impetus, by Euromonitor International
Euromonitor International estimates that value sales of chocolate tablets in Western Europe reached EUR5.48 billion in 2004. This figure shows a growth in current terms of 3% over the previous year, a positive sign after the slow down in demand registered by these products in 2001 and 2002. Germany, the United Kingdom and France are the largest markets for chocolate tablets, accounting for a combined share of 61% of total retail sales in Western Europe, according to Euromonitor’s projections.
Plain milk dominates
Plain milk chocolate varieties were the most consumed tablets among Western Europeans, accounting for 51% of total retail sales in 2004. Plain milk varieties were followed in importance by filled and plain dark tablets, accounting for 23% and 19% of total sales, according to Euromonitor International’s latest research. Plain white tablets represented, on the other hand, a mere 7% of total retail sales in 2004.
Private label loses value share to premium lines
Euromonitor estimates that private label chocolate tablets had an 11% share of total retail sales in 2004 in Western Europe. France and Italy, with private label shares of 7% and 6% respectively, are countries below the regional average, mainly as a result of the large importance of premium varieties in these countries. By contrast, private label has a larger share in countries such as Germany (18%) and Spain (20%), especially in tablet lines with less added value. Private label’s share over total value sales, however, has been declining since 2001. This decline is a result of the increasing sophistication of demand, particularly apparent as Western Europe is a region where consumers are willing to pay a premium in exchange for higher quality, better flavour and more attractive packaging. As a result, low-priced economy tablets have seen their relative importance over the total value of the market reduce, despite sustained growth in volume terms.
Premiumisation dictates performance of tablets in France
Euromonitor International forecasts that chocolate tablets in France will remain the second most valuable product within confectionery after seasonal chocolate. Euromonitor estimates sales in France of EUR 995 million in 2004, up by 3% in current value terms from 2003. However, volumes decreased by 2% during the same year. This is the result of strong product "premiumisation" as manufacturers have tried to develop added-value products, such as filled tablets or "finest quality" tablets. Despite disappointing results in volume terms, the penetration rate of tablets remained high in 2003, standing at more than 90%.
French adults choose more sophisticated chocolate tablet products, such as "finest quality", filled, "Gourmand" ("indulgence") and diet chocolate. Adult tablets generate the highest mark-ups for manufacturers, accounting for more than 45% in value sales in 2003, almost the same as "family" tablets. However, they represent only one third of sales in volume terms.
In Germany, on the other hand, chocolate tablets maintained positive growth in 2004. Retail sales rose that year by around 1% (including sales through Aldi) in current value terms, to reach EUR1.4 billion, according to Euromonitor International’s projections. Lindt’s premium portfolio of tablets, albeit from a very low base, contributed positively to the growth of the entire sector. Ludwig Schokolade was also very successful with its Schogette range and increased its share in tablets considerably to reach around 5% of value sales in the same year.
Italians favour dark chocolate in ‘gourmet formats’
Euromonitor estimates that value sales of tablets in Italy grew by just over 5% in 2004, following the strong performance recorded in the the previous year. This growth continued to be aided by campaigns highlighting the health benefits of consuming good quality, controlled origin cocoa contained in premium products.
These campaigns boosted sales of dark chocolate tablets, as they contain a higher proportion of cocoa. More specifically within dark chocolate, 'gourmet' tablets benefited from this trend. Examples include tablets such as those manufactured by the Italian company ICAM, which clearly state the origin and various characteristics of the cocoa beans used in the production process. Italians are learning that cocoa is beneficial in fighting depression and that, due to the fact that it contains polyphenol, an antioxidant, it can help to lower cholesterol and prevent arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
Spanish manufacturers give priority to small formats
Tablets concentrate the bulk of chocolate confectionery sales in the Spanish market, accounting for 29% of total value sales in 2004, according to Euromonitor’s estimates. This is the most mature segment within chocolate confectionery, which explains the slightly slower growth of 6% in 2003.
Spanish manufacturers are focusing their efforts on reinventing tablets, launching tablets with higher cocoa content, in small-sized formats. The latter is intended to provide the consumer with the pleasure of tasting chocolate - without having to worry too much about weight issues.
Interestingly, tablets are becoming a key driver in the growth of chocolate products in the United Kingdom, a result of the strong promotional support given by major manufacturers within the industry. One of the most relevant examples is Cadbury's Dairy Milk superbrand, introduced in August 2003. Cadbury's Dairy Milk is enjoying the benefits of extra shelf space in supermarkets, and more concentrated advertising expenditure. Tablets sales are also being boosted, albeit to a much lesser extent, by the growth of premium tablet products such as Green & Black's and Lindt Excellence.
Benelux: larger formats in the Netherlands and refinement in Belgium
Moving on to the largest Benelux markets, retail sales of tablets increased in the Netherlands by 3% over 2004, to reach value of EUR122 million, according to Euromonitor International’s latest research. Growth in tablets were hampered, however, by low activity in terms of new product development or promotions. One of the distinctive features of 2004 was Verkade and Kraft’s focus on promoting larger size tablets (300g), a reversal in the strategy aiming to induce consumption of smaller size formats, so characteristic in 2002 and 2003.
Valued at EUR188 million in 2003, according to Euromonitor’s research, tablets are, interestingly enough, a key product within chocolate confectionery in the Belgian market. Tablets in this country have seen increasing sophistication in formats and flavour over the last few years. Their refinement and diversity particularly entices the upper-middle class, the older generation and households with teenagers. Premium sales in the Netherlands are notably split between the three traditional colours: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate.
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