Tracking Chocolate

While chocolate has had its share of challenges in this economy, growth in the premium segment continues to be robust as single-serving sizes and health claims such as high-antioxidants are providing consumers with rationale for feeding their sweet cravings, mediapost.com reported, citing a Packaged Facts study.

U.S. sales of conventional, lower-priced chocolate grew just 1.5% last year to $13.5 billion, while premium products saw growth of 20% to $3 billion, according to the new Packaged Facts report titled “Premium Chocolate in the U.S.: Mass, Gourmet, Prestige and Super Premium.”

Citing the report’s findings, mediapost.com said the premium segment’s sales jumped by 200% between 2003 and 2007, and its share of the total chocolate market grew from 7% to 18%.

In contrast, lower-priced mainstream chocolate grew just 3.9%. As a whole, the chocolate market saw growth of 18.7% for the five years, from $13.9 billion to $16.5 billion.

Premium has seen its growth rate slow in recent years – last year’s 20% was down from a high of 40% in 2004 – but it continues to grow in part because of greater distribution in the mass, FDM (food/supermarkets, drugstores and mass-merchandisers) channel.

Dollar growth for both premium and mainstream chocolates has come from pricing gains rather than unit product sales, mediapost.com reported.

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