There is no arguing that Europeans love their chocolate: on average three-quarters of consumers include chocolate in a typical grocery basket, while per capita consumption rates are among the highest in the world, with annual intakes of 10kg or more in six of the West European nations.
A new report from Innova Market Insights highlights the growing sophistication of many of Europe’s chocolate shoppers, with a push towards premium and indulgent products clearly reflected in new product development (NPD). For example, activity in chocolate blocks continues to grow and they represented 45% of the region’s launches in 2018, while wrapped chocolates showed fastest growth in launch numbers between 2014 and 2018. At the same time, NPD in more everyday chocolate bars or countlines has been sliding.
Premiumization of the market is further indicated by growing use of dark chocolate, which increased its penetration from 25% to 35% of launches between 2014 and 2018, while there was a comparative drop in milk chocolate products, down from 71% to 59%.
But it is no longer the case that innovators are restricted to simple milk, dark or white chocolate types. ‘Limits in chocolate development are being broken down,’ reports Lu Ann Williams, Head of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. ‘Ruby chocolate has emerged as an entirely new concept within chocolate formulation, while darkmilk choices are also hitting the shelves, offering a halfway point between rich dark and smooth milk recipes.’
Meanwhile, Barry Callebaut – creator of ruby chocolate in 2018 – has followed up with the introduction of WholeFruit chocolate, which it claims is the first to use the entire cacao fruit, rather than just the beans. This results in a fruitier flavor and will also appeal to eco conscious customers as it reduces waste. The US will see the first use of WholeFruit chocolate but as soon as European approvals are achieved, the region’s ‘chocoisseurs’ will certainly be ready for it.