Amrin Walji
Amrin is a Senior Innovation Analyst who specialises in analysing trends driving product innovation and development across the food and drink industry.

While Easter sees a big focus on chocolate, its consumption is not limited to this occasion and we have seen several innovations, including vegan recipes continuing to attract consumers. Meanwhile, unique flavors, textures and formats are also inspiring launch activity. Our Senior Innovation Analyst – Amrin Walji explores three key chocolate trends that are set to delight palates in 2022.

1. Broadening the appeal of vegan chocolate

Consumers across the food and drink industry are looking to reduce their intake of animal-derived ingredients. Demand for more plant-based foods has accelerated, including in chocolate confectionery. In the UK, for example, one in four chocolate consumers have eaten vegan chocolate in the past months.

Vegan chocolate could have a broader consumer appeal beyond those who cannot eat dairy products for health reasons. However, for vegan milk chocolate to grow, consumers must be assured of the quality and value-for-money credentials on offer compared to dairy chocolate.

Source: Mintel GNPD, Kitchen Sink Chocolate Bar is a rice-milk based vegan chocolate bar with fudge, raisins, honeycomb, cornflakes and biscuit crumbs. It contains ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ and delivers a great taste (UK)

2. Stepping away from plastic packaging

Individually wrapped chocolates have become more relevant during the pandemic as the format provides a sense of hygiene and security compared to sharing formats. Brands are moving away from plastics, instead exploring more environmentally friendly packaging options, such as biodegradable, compostable or recyclable materials. The use of plastics in packaging has halved, while the use of foil has doubled, according to Mintel GNPD.

Source: Mintel GNPD, DM Bio Whole Milk Whole Nut Chocolate retails in a 100g pack with a compostable inner wrapper made from sustainable cellulose (Germany)

3. Consumer awareness drives ethical focus

Brand awareness on sustainability and responsible production continues to grow. Product launches featuring sustainable claims, such as ethically-sourced and environmentally friendly, are seeing the largest rise. Consumers show interest in ethically-sourced products: more than one-third of Brazilian consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable chocolate. Chocolate brands are demonstrating their commitment to people and the environment by communicating their ethical and sustainable qualities.

Source: Mintel GNPD, Get Real Dark Chocolate with Chai Tea Leaves is made from fair trade ingredients and 10% of sales are donated to children shelters (Argentina)

What goes behind fancy packaging

Easter puts chocolate at the forefront of retail activity, but consumers are looking for more beyond the sweet and crunchy bits of the confectionery itself. As consumers look to make more sustainable choices, chocolate manufacturers will continue to innovate around vegan ingredients, sustainability and ethical claims in the near future.