- The nut-based and sweet spread category stands at $3.9 billion today, having grown 34% from 2008 to 2013.
- A recent expansion into a whole slew of tree nuts like almond, cashew, walnut, macadamia, coconut, and, of course, the hazelnut used in Nutella, are becoming a lot more common.
- According to Mintel, there is still room for growth, with sales in this category likely to increase 65% from 2013-2018 to hit $6.5 billion in sales by 2018.
Nutella's success has influenced several non-spread brands to enter the market. From 2009 to 2013, there was a 97.7% increase in new products that represent extensions of flavors or whole new varieties. A few months ago, Hershey launched its own chocolate spreads.
These products offer what consumers want, with one in five consumers saying they would like more indulgent nut-based spreads, incorporating flavors like raspberry, white chocolate, or chocolate chip. That represents a far greater number than the percentage of the population that wants alternatives to peanut butter due to allergies. According to the National Institute of Health, only 1% of children and 0.6% of adults suffer from peanut allergies. So it's really more a matter of taste than of health, though some people do prefer the additional health benefits associated with nuts like almonds.
“Essentially, consumers like the idea of a healthier alternative, but at the end of the day, they also enjoy their indulgences," obseves Mintel food analyst Amanda Topper. “That said, there are certainly ways to achieve both, as Nutella has shown. It’s seen as an indulgence, but one that people can rationalize given it’s claims that it includes no artificial colors or preservatives. Manufacturers of gourmet spreads would be wise to also consider incorporating natural or organic ingredients which, in turn, may also warrant a higher price point."