Fairtrade chocolate sales are growing in Western Europe and North America, but an analyst does not expect significant development in emerging markets.
Jonathan Thomas, primary market analyst at Leatherhead Food Research, said: “Sales are generally highest in countries where people are familiar with the Fairtrade concept/logo, which is why sales are high compared with the global average in Western Europe.”
UK & Ireland and US
The UK has the largest market for Fairtrade chocolate with sales worth $760m in 2011, followed by the US with $175m in sales.
However, the Fairtrade sector in Ireland has the highest percentage of the overall chocolate market, accounting for 14% compared to 12% in the UK.
The UK market for Fairtrade goods rose 19% to over £1.5bn in 2012 and is projected to rise to £2bn projected by 2015.
“The confectionery sector is likely to contribute to, as well as benefit from, this growth. Because the concept is less well-established at the consumer level,” said Thomas.
"I do not expect the Fairtrade chocolate market to show much development in emerging regions, although some Eastern European countries display some promise."
Switch by Nestle and Mondelez
According to the analyst, the switch to Fairtrade by multinationals such as Mondelez and Nestlé has aided the market.
“I think these companies are responding to their consumers, as well as trying to improve their ethical credentials – with the advent of social media in particular, people are now more able and more likely to communicate should confectionery companies not source their cocoa in a responsible manner.“
He said Fairtrade would not necessarily open up many new audiences but would help companies portray themselves in a more responsible light.
“I think smaller Fairtrade specialists will continue to feature in the market, since they frequently have a loyal consumer base and have a strong heritage in the sector.”
Thomas added that the growth of Fairtrade chocolate will very much depend on whether supply for ethical cocoa can match rising demand.
Chocolate makers must pay a $200 premium per ton for Fairtrade cocoa from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, which is around $50 more per ton than UTZ or Rainforest Alliance cocoa.