- The U.S. chocolate candy market is projected to hit $22 billion in 2016, 18% of which is premium chocolate's market share, according to a new Packaged Facts report.
- Total chocolate sales saw a 1% uptick in the 52 weeks ending April 17, per IRI data. That included a 0.3% increase for total everyday chocolate sales and a 4.6% jump for premium chocolate.
- Nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers bought dark chocolate in the past year, and almost one-third (30%) of consumers have purchased candy online.
The chocolate industry is highly consolidated, with just a handful of key players controlling the vast majority of the market. Two chocolate companies account for nearly 70% of all retail chocolate candy sales, according to the report. The top four marketers of seasonal Halloween chocolate account for almost 98% of the segment's dollar sales.
That consolidation could have become even more pronounced if the Mondelez-Hershey takeover had gone through, which would have combined the No. 2 and No. 6 global chocolate companies. Mondelez officially abandoned talks for the deal earlier this week, attributed to shareholder changes at Hershey.
Packaged Facts named a number of trends supporting growth in the chocolate industry: more frequent and better-for-you snacking, clean labels, indulgent tastes, functional benefits, design factors, inclusions like fruits, nuts and seeds, sweet heat and downsizing.
Another trend, candy adjacencies, reflects the increasing prevalence of the sweet and salty combination. This flavor profile is further blurring the line between snacks and candy and opens up opportunities for manufacturers to mesh their own brands in separate categories or partner with other manufacturers for new innovations.
The fact that nearly one-third of consumers bought chocolate online also demonstrates how critical it is for manufacturers to determine better shipping methods that prevent chocolate from melting. At the same time, they can't make shipping costs out of range for consumers, who are increasingly using e-commerce channels to purchase food and beverages.