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Cargill, Innova Reveal 2014 Chocolate Trends

January 22, 2014
by Candy & Snack TODAY

Chicago — Reducing waste in the food stream, new superfoods and options for alternative ingredients are among the top 10 food trends impacting the chocolate space, according to Innova Market Insights and Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate.

Lu Ann Williams, head of research at Innova, notes that a waste not, want not mentality is permeating the market, as formerly discarded ingredients are being reused as ingredients for other products. This trend also taps into reduction in packaging materials and moves to increase product shelf life to avoid loss.

“We think the waste footprint could be the next big environmental measure for companies,” she says, adding: “There is going to be a lot of communication to consumers about how to avoid waste, both to help the environment and save money.”

Building, or in some cases re-building, consumer trust will impact the chocolate market, with frequent communications about ingredient origins and supply chain transparency.

Ren de Haan, marketing & communications director for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, says: “This is a very important trend. Trust is the cornerstone when doing business. As a leader in the business, you need to be transparent. It’s clear that customers demand that from us and we can provide that information and transparency.”

Williams adds it’s important to promote transparency with a purpose, instead of trying to communicate everything a company or product does.

Consumers will continue looking for simpler pleasures, particularly when it comes to at home consumption of premium foods. Williams notes that a big trend driving new product launches is items that help bring home a premium experience that wasn’t possible before. She points to consumers’ transition from buying boxed chocolates at specialty retailers to grocery stores as well as CPG companies improving the packaging on basic products.

Connected to the trust trend, Williams says small companies will begin to gain more attention as they can connect with consumers on a personal level through stories, handcrafted products and new ingredients and flavors. In addition, she notes that by making the most of Internet marketing tools these small companies can connect with consumers worldwide, even for niche segments. 

Healthy will become more holistic, Willams says, adding: “We’re not hearing about functional and nutraceutical as much anymore, but more holistic. We’ve seen a lot of functional benefits from natural ingredients being used and promoted.”

She notes that cocoa and chocolate are a natural fit in this trend because they go well together with functional products.

As an aside to the holistic trend, new superfoods are expected to gain traction, according to Williams, who points to the low level of consumer awareness for kale and coconut water during the early part of this past decade. “There are lots of ways to combine chocolate and cocoa with new superfoods.” She points to products featuring chocolate and quinoa, and raw cacao and cinnamon kale chips as examples of items meeting this trend.

Brand extensions that blur category lines as well as cross branding are expected to influence the chocolate market. Williams says the inclusion of chocolate in savory snacks, such as Frito-Lay North America, Inc.’s chocolate-covered potato chips, will increase. She notes that between the first quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013, chocolate used as an ingredient or flavoring in savory snacks grew 135 percent.

“The barrier between product categories is becoming thinner,” de Haan says. “You are able to make new sensations with a nice ‘wow’ effect.”

Protein-packed product launches are expected to continue across global markets, as survey data indicate consumers have a strong grasp on the benefits of protein.

“As you combine protein with chocolate, you bring the best of both worlds together, de Haan says. “In a well-balanced diet, protein is important, but from a taste perspective, it is lacking.”

Williams concurs, saying chocolate is ideal for improving the taste profile of these product types.

It is anticipated that CPG manufacturers will continue to try to stay ahead of regulatory matters concerning sugar, salt and fat reduction by reformulating products. However, Williams says that while companies will look to lower these levels, they will not promote the changes on pack.

Finally, she says that substitutes for alterative ingredients, such as dairy or gluten replacers, will gain more traction this year.

“What we’re seeing is consumers expecting a lot of alternatives, whether they be for dairy or gluten,” Williams says, adding cocoa and chocolate product launches making allergy claims are driven by gluten-free declarations.

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