With National Chocolate Week under way, new research suggests that, despite cutbacks in other areas, the sweet treat is one thing consumers refuse to give up.
According to Mintel, UK sales of chocolate increased by 9.2% between 2007 and 2009 to reach an estimated £3.6bn – and they are projected to grow even further, to £4.1bn by 2015.
Around 90% of consumers regularly eat chocolate, and there is a growing “treating” culture, with almost half of consumers now admitting they tuck into chocolate to indulge themselves.
While the link between women and chocolate remains a popular perception, it seems that men are almost as keen. Mintel says that 87% eat it, compared to 91% of women.
And while the milk versus dark chocolate divide remains, Mintel finds that dark chocolate is on the up. While over half of consumers claimed they preferred milk chocolate in 2008 this dropped to just 35% in 2009.
Says Vivianne Ihekweazu, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel: “Chocolate performed strongly during the downturn, with consumers turning to it as a low-cost comfort food. And the good news for National Chocolate Week is that the chocolate confectionery market is continuing to see growth, as UK consumers remain a nation of chocolate lovers.
“Our overriding desire for indulgence will keep the chocolate category going, helped by continued new product development.”