Brits cross over to the dark side (of chocolate)
Once the poor relation, left on the sweet shop shelf, dark chocolate is biting back as Britain buys into its new healthier image. In fact, latest research from MINTEL shows that sales here almost doubled (96%) between 2005 and 2007, with sales hitting £85 million last year.
"Although dark chocolate is still high in sugar, it is rich in antioxidants and is lower in fat than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate now has the reputation as being a healthier alternative to other chocolate and this has really struck a chord with Britain's chocoholics," comments Mathilde Dudouit, senior market analyst at MINTEL.
Dark chocolate is considered the healthier option because of its high raw cacao content. First cultivated by ancient Mayan civilisations, raw cacao is now considered one of the world's most beneficial super foods due to its high content of antioxidants. And it is this reputation that is driving sales of dark chocolate.
A Rich Experience
At the same time, luxury chocolate has also seen sales bubble up, rising 46% over the two years to 2007, when the market reached £140 million. Small niche players, such as Kshocolat, Hotel Du Chocolat and Plaisir Du Chocolat, have undoubtedly reinvigorated the premium chocolate market and have helped Britain become a nation of real chocolate buffs.
"Brits may not be eating chocolate as often as the used to, but they are certainly splashing out more on premium varieties. The trick today is to eat less, but to go all out when indulging so that it really is a luxurious treat," explains Mathilde Dudouit.
Manufacturers have been committed to introducing healthier kinds of chocolate as well as bars that are calorie controlled. This, combined with Britain's recent growing desire for more expensive dark and luxury chocolate treats has given the value of the market a much needed boost. Even though people are still cutting back on the amount of chocolate they eat, sales in the two years to 2007 saw no less than a 10% increase in value. This is compared to a mere 1% growth between 2003 and 2005.
With a further 5% growth expected this year alone, the British chocolate market will be worth £2.23 billion by the end of 2008. And these trends will continue to help stem the chocolate market meltdown, with sales of all chocolate set for a further 17% growth in the five years to 2013.
Cho- collate with wine – it's a connoisseurs' world
One of the more niche trends that we could expect to see in the future lies in combining chocolate and wine. They are a perfect complimentary match and wine bars would do well to offer a choice of finest chocolate to go with wine tasting sessions. We could be enjoying our dark chocolate with red wine or an indulgent variety with a glass of fizz.
"In the same way that wine lovers deliberate over different grape varieties, single estate chocolate and chocolate made from different types of cocoa beans provide a real opportunity for the true chocolate connoisseur," says Mathilde Dudouit.