CHICAGO—Dark chocolate is gaining ground on milk chocolate in the confectionery popularity race with 51% of all adult consumers choosing milk chocolate as their favorite type of plain chocolate, followed by 35% who favor dark chocolate and 8% who prefer white chocolate, according to new data from Mintel.
According to the report, "Chocolate Confectionery- US - April 2013consumers aged 55 years and older are more likely to choose dark chocolate, perhaps because of its added nutritional benefits like boosting heart health. Research shows some 46% of men age 55 and older and 48% of women over age 55 favor dark chocolate, followed by 38% of men that prefer milk chocolate and 40% of women that also prefer milk chocolate. The data indicates a trend toward dark chocolate being increasingly favored. Further, 73% of all chocolate consumers are aware that dark chocolate is healthier.
"The progressively better understood health benefits of dark chocolate may be increasing its popularity as more consumers are looking for indulgent foods that can serve multiple functions such as nutrition or convenience," said Sarah Day Levesque, food analyst at Mintel.
Despite the sluggish economy, the chocolate confectionery market grew 19% from 2007 to 2012. Growth can be attributed to consumers' demand for affordable luxuries or indulgence, as well as the foodie culture responsible for the increased interest in premium, high-quality and artisanal varieties of chocolate. However, due to countering trends, Mintel projects growth in the chocolate confectionery category to slow over the next five years with sales growing only 15% from 2012 to 2017.
Consumers' concern of obesity and related health risks serve as challenges to increasing category sales. In deciding to buy chocolate, 89% of consumers buy it as a treat or reward and 87% buy it as a snack option, while 83% of consumers look at the size of chocolate candy packages to determine the best value for the money and 72% buy chocolate to improve their mood or provide an energy boost.