chocolate trends 2024

Consumers are increasingly focused on the pursuit of health and sustainability, causing a notable increase in interest in plant-based options and in the search for alternatives to palm oil. In addition, there has been an increased awareness of the link between different types of health, such as digestive, immune and cognitive health.

On the other hand, leniency continues to be a key factor in the market.

In the following article, we will discuss the different chocolate trends and consumer preferences.

TRENDS FOCUSED ON SUSTAINABILITY

THE RISE OF PLANT-BASED OPTIONS

The trend towards plant-based diets has gained popularity in recent years and consumers in many markets are looking to reduce their consumption of animal ingredients through these options, which are considered healthier and more sustainable. 

Given this situation, the demand for more plant-based foods, including chocolate, has accelerated.

Source: Mintel GNPD, January 2019 - December 2023 (Europe).

In terms of young European consumers, there is a growing interest in plant-based options due to the rise of vegan and flexitarian diets. This is reflected in the popularity products such as plant-based drinks and vegan chocolate, a situation to which brands arebrands are responding by both highlighting the absence of animal-based ingredients and developing plant-based formulas.

On the other hand, dark chocolate is often inherently of vegetable origin, leading manufacturers to increasingly point to it on packaging, along with milk chocolate variants, which also ingredients of plant origin.

VEGAN OATMEAL-BASED ICE CREAM
Brand: Jude's (UK)

Vegan oat-based ice cream (59%). It is described as the first carbon negative ice cream in the UK. It has a Certified B Corporation seal. The manufacturer claims to have donated over £250,000 to charity.

THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT OF PALM OIL

Growing awareness of the climate crisis is prompting consumers to re-evaluate their purchasing habits and seek out brands that address sustainability issues. In this case, the ecological footprint of palm oil is of particular concern to many consumers, due to its links to deforestation and environmental destruction.

This ingredient has properties that make it widely used in the food industry and can be found in a large number of food products, due to its semisolid nature at room temperature, its high stability, texture and absence of odors. 

In fact, palm oil-free claims have seen gradual growth among confectionery launches in Europe over the past five years, demonstrating that consumers want to see more sustainable products in this sector.

Source: Mintel GNPD, 2019 - 2023.

The NewForesight report indicates a decline in palm oil use in Europe from 8.39 to 7.48 million metric tons between 2019 and 2021.

But we can also find sustainable palm oil, whose establishment of national initiatives in different European countries has played a key role in stimulating consumption and has inspired similar actions in other regions. In fact, Europe is considered a world leader in the consumption of this ingredient certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) . This certification system ensures that its members produce or physically handle palm oil in a sustainable manner.

RAINFOREST AND PALM OIL FREE
Brand: Ovobreak (Switzerland)

Crunchy bars with a filling made from barley malt extract (Ovomaltine). Palm oil free and made with Rainforest Alliance People & Nature certified cocoa.

TRENDS FOCUSED ON HEALTH AND WELLNESS

HOLISTIC HEALTH DRIVING FUNCTIONAL FOOD

The growing interest in vegan and vegetarian diets is driving the launch of vegan and plant-based products, especially in the wake of the pandemic, which has intensified the importance of prioritizing health and wellness holistically and the association/link between one health and the other is beginning to be understood. In fact, 2 out of 3 consumers recognize that gut health is key to overall wellness, and 76% recognize the link between digestive and immune health.

With this, new products are emerging that seek to strengthen the gastrointestinal tract, which plays an important role in digestive and immune health, where probiotics and prebiotics have a strong presence. An example would be the reinforcement of the appeal of chocolate through new attributes such as antioxidants, immunity-promoting ingredients or functional ingredients such as superfoods.

In addition, consumers expect manufacturers to go Clean Label and reduce additives and preservatives in their recipes, although European companies are also opting for high-protein bar launches.

On the other hand, anxiety management and stress reduction are especially important. In fact, 65% of consumers worldwide seek foods that benefit their mental health.

In this context, many people consider chocolate to be an essential part of a healthy diet and some research suggests that flavonols (plant compounds with antioxidant properties), found in dark chocolate, may benefit brain function and help manage stressful situations.

What is evident, beyond all scientific evidence, is that consumers know how comforting it can be to enjoy the taste of chocolate.

Consumers who want to concentrate better, have more energy or a better mood are increasingly opting for chocolate with botanical ingredients such as flowers, leaves, roots, seeds or plant stems, which are valued for their medicinal, aromatic or culinary properties

FUN FUNCTIONAL CHOCOLATE COFFINS TO RELAX
Brand: Soul chocolate, Brainbow (Canada)

Dark chocolate truffles infused with L-theanine and chamomile to calm the mind and body.

THE BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH PROTEIN INTAKE

Protein has become one of the most important ingredients this past year, and continues to be an attractive feature for bars and snacks. In fact, according to Innova Market Insights, more than 40% of consumers globally say it is a very important ingredient.

As consumers resume their physical activity to improve their health, some brands reinforce their Better For You proposition through added proteins because these are associated with different reasons: 

- They are essential for the growth, repair and maintenance of body tissues.

- They are known for their ability to provide satiety and satisfaction after eating.

- Consuming them after sports accelerates muscle recovery and sports performance.

- They provide nutrients to keep us active and healthy.

- They can play a major role in supporting the immune system.

AIR MADE PROTEIN CHOCOLATE
Brand: Taste de Future (Singapore)

Limited edition chocolate with Solein microbial protein from Solar Foods, made from CO2, air and electricity.

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TENDENCY TOWARDS INDULGENCE

The search for new sensory experiences through food never ceases, which has caused consumers to go further and choose the type of indulgence according to the moment of consumption. In fact, 3 out of 4 consumers want to try new chocolate experiences, considered one of the most indulgent products.

It is here that Intense Indulgence and Permissive Indulgence appear, which address this tendency in two different ways.

On the one hand, intense indulgence is pursued by consumers who prefer highly immersive experiences, to which brands can offer three different multisensory formulas such as new flavors, strong visual appeal or surprise through textures.

On the other hand, permissible indulgence refers to providing a pleasurable sensory experience, without consumers feeling guilty or concerned about their health or diet . Within this type of indulgence we also find "Mindful Indulgence", which is based on indulging without compromising the physical or mental well-being, the health of others or even the health of the planet.

CLOUD ICE CREAM & MORE
Brand: Ben & Jerry's (Netherlands)

Chocolate ice cream with chocolate Cookie Dough, marshmallow swirls, topped with creamy whipped ice cream, toasted caramel swirls and chocolate chips.

THE RISE OF PREMIUM INDULGENCE

Premium chocolate is often associated with a higher price compared to other varieties. However, premium chocolate brands are committed to using cocoa from the best crops and regions, prioritizing quality over quantity. This approach ensures that the final product maintains the standards of excellence that consumers expect, regardless of changes in cocoa prices.

Consumer loyalty to premium chocolate is another important factor, as consumers are willing to pay a higher price for the quality and experience offered, helping to keep demand stable, even in times of cocoa price volatility.

In addition, premium chocolate brands tend to diversify their offerings and explore different markets and formats, such as unique, historic, seasonal or limited edition chocolates.

BLACK CHOCOLATE WITH SEED MIX
Brand: Lindt (Ireland)

It combines dark chocolate with caramelized pumpkin, quinoa and caramelized flaxseed, creating the perfect combination of premium flavor and texture.

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