National Chocolate Week starts on Monday 12 October and there is a sweet smell of success in the air for the nation’s chocolate industry, as latest research from Mintel’s Global Market Navigator  (GMN) finds that Britons spend more on chocolate than any other country in Europe. Indeed, despite the recession, the UK consumed a button popping, belt straining £3.5 billion worth of chocolate last year. Only Germany, with over 20 million more people, came close to the United Kingdom spend with £3.4 billion in 2008.
Mintel’s GMN shows that the British spent an impressive £57 per head of population on chocolate in 2008. Only Switzerland spends more on chocolate at £111 per head of population in 2008, with Belgium (£48 per head) and Germany (£41 per head) trailing the UK.
Even a global recession has not reduced the British enthusiasm for chocolate. The UK market grew by 7.4% in 2007 and it still managed to achieve 4% growth in 2008 despite tough economic conditions. Mintel GMN goes on to forecast continued expansion of 5.8% in 2009 and then predicts year-on-year increases of 5% until 2013, when the market will be valued at £4.4 billion.
Steve Charlton, Managing Director Mintel GMN said:
“These figures demostrate the British love of chocolate remains as strong as ever. The fact that we buy more chocolate than any other European country, despite recessionary pressure and our comparative lack in size, shows where the priorities of sweet toothed Brits lie!”
There is also clear segmentation in the UK. Countline products are the largest sector comprising 34.1% of the market at a value of nearly £1.2 billion. Boxes of assorted chocolate make up 22.7% of sales and there are also seasonal bursts of novelty chocolates around Christmas and Easter, representing 12.9% of the market with a value of £451 million. When it comes to global innovation, Europe leads the way. Indeed, in the first six months of the year, almost four in ten (38%) new chocolate products were launched in Europe. Posh chocs otherwise known as “premium products”have been particularly popular in Europe, where highlighting the provenance of the chocolate is a particularly popular trend.
“The trend towards good quality produce is reflective of European consumers’ interest in the sourcing and provenance of ingredients. In fact, in the last 6 months alone almost three quarters of all new organic products and over half of all new Fairtrade products have been launched in this region” adds Steve Charlton.
Meanwhile, it seems new product development is also not suffering in the current economic climate. Mintel’s Global New Products Database reveals that new chocolate product launches in the UK are up from 345 in 2007 to 439 in 2008. While Brits lead the way in overall chocolate consumption, Germany is the most active region in terms of new product development, accounting for a quarter of all European launches followed by Austria with 12% and the UK with 8%.
However, it would appear the UK is developing a healthier appitite when it comes to chocolate confectionary. Reduced sugar chocolate launches rose from just six in 2007 to 26 in 2008, gluten free choclate launches from 13 in 2007 to 40 in 2008 and additive free chocolate from 22 in 2007 to 46 launches in 2008.
Chocs with a difference include a chocolate that saves trees. Available in the UK, Brand Strand’s Organic Meltdown’s Fairtrade-certified Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts & Currants, gives buyers the opportunity to enter a code on a website to tell choc lovers about the tree they have saved. The company has teamed up with The World Land Trust, and for every bar sold a tree is saved in an Ecuadoran tropical forest. Meanwhile, in France, Choco-Lisa Classic Goat Milk Chocolate is claimed to be the first worldwide chocolate made with 100% certified organic goat’s milk. And for chocolate with a real difference, two companies in Europe have used an unusual flavour, cheese, to flavour their new products. In Turkey, Alfred Ritter uses mascarpone cheese, and in Hungary Friesland Foods has added cottage cheese to its Pöttyös range of TúróRudi Milk Chocolate Coated Cottage Cheese Bars.
Finally, for those looking for a portable low calorie treat – new in France from Kraft Foods is Toblerone Crispy 100 Calorie Packs. Six individual sachets of mini milk chocolate coated crunchy biscuit with nougat pieces, almonds and honey.

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