Ethically responsible companies catering to health-conscious consumers with clean-label premium products are likeliest to win, according to a market analyst.
Lu Anne Williams, head of research at Innova Market Insights, has identified 10 key trends for chocolate products at Cargill’s webinar ‘T for Trends’.
1. Pure is the new natural
Williams said that there had been an increased emphasis on clean label products over the past few years with products claiming to be “pure” or “true to nature” multiplying fast.
She said that simple labels can communicate authenticity, giving the example of Ah Excellent Belgische Pure, a UTZ certified product that comes in dark packaging, which she said gave a short and simple ingredients declaration.
2. Green is a given
“Everybody is looking at sustainability now and some kind of ethical claim,” said Williams.
“It’s not a choice anymore. Consumers will take it for granted that every company is doing something better.”
She said that large companies such as Mars, Cargill and Nestle had made a commitment to use UTZ certified chocolate in all its chocolate products.
“It communicates that a lot of care has been taken into the production of the ingredients and that really does translate to a product that is very simple and pure for the consumer,” she said.
She added that alternative ways to communicate the message could be Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance certification or commitments to reduce energy, water use or even cutting down on packaging.
3. Location, Location, Location
“Consumers are more interested in understanding where their food comes from,” said Williams.
Although the chocolate industry started communicating origin specific chocolate some time ago, she said manufacturers should make the origins more visible on packaging to communicate quality to help connect consumers to the product.
She added that there was a growing interest in traditional and regional foods, which allow consumers to picture where their ingredients come from.
4. Premium stands out
According to Williams: “Premium is a very important trend and it’s going to become even more important.”
“There has been a lot of activity at the top of the market and at the bottom with products with a low price points and the middle has gotten squeezed.”
She gave the example of Nestle which had launched a 70% cocoa KitKat to push a mid-market product into premium positioning.
5. Seniors get some attention
According to the UN the number of people aged 60 and over is going to triple between 2009 and 2050.
Williams said manufacturers could capitalise by catering to the needs of this growing body of consumers.
“A big issue for this group is going to be increased calorie and nutrient intake,” she said.
6. Forty is the new twenty
The analyst said that women in their forties were looking for ways to stay younger for longer, adding that dark chocolate with its high antioxidant content offers a “health halo”.
She gave examples of Hershey’s Kisses and Nestle’s Mousse Delicate, products that came in small portion sizes for health conscious consumers.
“This group of consumers wants to manage their calorie intake and by portion packaging these products and making them of a very high quality dark chocolate they are getting to enjoy something and spend their calories wisely,” she said.
7. Grounded in science
Williams said there had been an increase in “scientifically proven claims” for chocolate products that can promote consumption and compliance in nutrition, especially for kids.
8. Regulators force rethink
She said new opportunities could open up for manufacturers as Governments and regulators legislate against certain types of food, giving the example of increased product activity with no trans-fat claims following a US crackdown.
9. Un-measurable niches
Williams added that there was scope for small companies to seize upon health niches.
She gave the example of a company in the UK that had introduced convenience products for people experiencing kidney failure.
10. Boom for protein
The analyst also spoke of potential for high protein cereal and energy bars with chocolate that had taken off following the Atkins diet hype in 2004
She added that many people were looking to cut out meat once or twice a week, which spelled a market for such products.