Despite the ever-present health lobby and increased awareness of the need to cut back on sugar and fat, the majority of consumers still view chocolate as a harmless, affordable, everyday indulgence.
Research for a new report ‘Confectionery’ has revealed that 56.7 per cent of respondents continue to regard chocolate as an affordable treat.
Market intelligence providers, Key Note, have just published this new Market Report Plus which examines the UK market for confectionery.
Moreover, the continued pressure from the healthy eating lobby appears to have had a minimal impact on the market for confectionery overall, as there has been a rise in penetration across all categories of the confectionery sector since 2001.
In 2006, sales of confectionery in the UK were an estimated £4.41bn – reflecting a slowdown in growth in the market, which started in the previous year.
Chocolate confectionery accounts for the bulk of sales in the market (72.3 per cent in 2006); with sugar products taking the remaining share.
The consumer research showed that there is a preference for buying products on impulse and in the form of individual bars when desired rather than planned buying of multipacks.
Some 64 per cent of respondents agreed that they preferred to buy individual bars when they wanted to eat them, with 47.7 per cent agreeing with the statement that they often buy chocolate on impulse.
Women are more likely to be impulse buyers of chocolate, whilst men are more likely to agree that they regularly snack on chocolate.
This type of regular consumption is less likely among women – perhaps reflecting stronger health awareness among women.
Whilst the confectionery market has weathered the healthy-eating debate fairly well so far, product innovation in other rival sectors (such as biscuits and cakes), where better-for-you products are now established presents a significant challenge.
More than 40 per cent of respondents to the report’s survey were concerned about high fat or sugar levels in chocolate.
While around a third of men are concerned about fat or sugar content, this figure rises to more than half among women.
However, the research also illustrates that fewer are acting on these concerns by cutting back on consumption or opting for what they regard as healthier alternatives.
Women do show a more considered approach to chocolate; showing greater agreement that they will look for low-sugar or sugar-free alternatives, have cut back on consumption or eat more dark chocolate on health grounds.
There is recognition of Fairtrade confectionery products, with 34.3 per cent of consumers agreeing that they prefer to buy this – with awareness rising among those with higher income.
Whilst the outlook for the market remains positive, suppliers cannot afford to be complacent.
Key Note anticipates that the confectionery market will see a relatively low level of growth to 2011, with health continuing to be high on the agenda across the market.
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