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Consumers are changing what they look for in a chocolate product. Over the last year, fine chocolate manufacturer Luker Chocolate has noticed a greater focus amongst consumers on our personal wellbeing and growing demand for premium products. Consumers are also increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of products. Guilt-free indulgence speaks to health, but it is also about choosing products that align with environmental and ethical priorities. The chocolate industry is catering to these demands with the rise of premium, healthy and ethical chocolate.
Studies show consumers are making more conscious decisions, opting for healthier sweet treats during lockdown. However, the market for premium chocolate continues to rise, valued worldwide at $29 billion in 2020 and projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.2% 2021-2026.
Consumers do not think of chocolate as they think of fruit and veg. Chocolate is and will remain an indulgent treat, but that doesn’t mean that it must be bad for our health or full of artificial ingredients. At Luker Chocolate, we have seen a rise in chocolate companies looking for healthier options for premium chocolate that do not compromise on flavour. Many are looking for sugar-free alternatives, using stevia and other natural sweeteners, or sourcing milks that are better for the planet, like oat milk.
Plant-based brand Doisy & Dam are amongst the trailblazers championing low sugar chocolate. Using ethically sourced, high-quality cocoa, their products contain at least 30% less sugar than market alternatives. Despite the reduction in sugar, the chocolates produced still have an indulgent flavour profile.
Guilt-free chocolate that holds its own in the luxury snacking market becomes more popular for two reasons: consumers are not compromising on quality or taste, both outside and inside the home.
Most chocolate producers recognise the health benefits of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content, meaning it contains more iron and magnesium. It is also a source of protein.
Companies like COCO Chocolatier primarily use dark chocolate in their bars, producing a quality product whilst exploring different and wonderful flavours. With unique flavours ranging from rhubarb and ginger to gin and tonic, dark chocolate can provide consumers with the indulgent treat they’re craving alongside a range of health benefits.
Pre-pandemic, data from Innova suggested that consumers were snacking once a day (30%) or twice a day (27%). In the last year, many home dwellers have increased their snacking routines, but want healthier, premium products.
Snacking is not a new phenomenon, but the past year has taught us not to compromise on what we eat at home and refocused our attention on our own wellbeing.
Healthier alternatives to snacking are growing in popularity, especially in chocolate. The premium market is inundated with snack bars, protein products and desserts that satisfy those chocolate cravings.
Healthier options are not the only way for chocolate to be guilt-free. As consumer sustainability demands grow, brands should think about how their products can be traceable, transparent and tasty. Willing to pay more for healthy, natural products, conscious consumers crave chocolate that tastes good and does good.
For instance, at Luker Chocolate, we work exclusively with high-quality ethical cocoa, producing chocolate crafted at origin. This means that we can keep more of the production in Colombia, benefitting cocoa producing communities by creating more jobs. The healthy chocolate boom is married to sustainable chocolate, as consumers want healthier chocolate products that do not compromise the planet or communities.
We’re also seeing expansion into ingredients that are better for the planet. Chocolate made with oat milk is continuing to grow in popularity and there is exciting innovation in this space. Oat milk production uses 80% less land than cows milk, as well as using less water and producing fewer CO2 emissions.
It’s the new, up-and-coming brands that are shaping the healthy chocolate industry in the UK. Chocolatiers and retailers must continue to be versatile and adapt to ever-changing consumer demands.