While many consumers are fans of dark chocolate due to its perceived health benefits – bolstering sales in the sector as a result – new research from Mintel reveals that there is a rapidly developing opportunity in Brazil to trade on these healthy credentials.

Dark chocolate is widely noted for its perceived health credentials in mature markets (dark chocolate is deemed healthier than milk or white chocolate by 57% of users in the UK) – but this not the case in Brazil, where just 17% of chocolate users think the same. However, this figure rises to 27% among consumers who eat dark chocolate, indicating that the better-for-you credentials of dark chocolate are helping to boost usage to a certain extent. Usage of dark chocolate currently lags significantly behind milk chocolate (81%), white chocolate (67%), and chocolate with nuts or fillings (64%), with penetration at just 36% – indicating significant growth potential within the dark chocolate segment.

Indeed, potential in this category is likely to rely on increasing awareness of the healthiness of dark chocolate compared to chocolate with a lower cocoa content. Here, highlighting the antioxidant content (and the widely reported medical claims linked to this), as well as the lower content of less wholesome ingredients such as sugar, will be key. Overcoming the more acquired taste of dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate is another barrier to consumer uptake that brands will need to consider.

However, it seems some brands have already been considering the dark chocolate opportunity in Brazil as there has been an increase in new dark chocolate products entering the Brazil market over the past year, particularly in tablets. According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), 47% of chocolate tablet launches in 2013 in Brazil were dark chocolate, compared to just 13% in 2012.

Positioning dark chocolate as a better-for-you option, while at the same time still highly satisfying and indulgent, could appeal to the growing number of health-conscious consumers who still enjoy treating themselves. This could help brands to maintain consumer engagement alongside rising interest in health-related issues as they age.

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Renata Pompa de Moura is Research Manager Brazil at Mintel and has over ten years of experience in market research spanning Brazil, USA and Chile.

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