Even though the United States is the number one chocolate consumer in the world, sales have recently fallen. But with more research coming out about the health benefits of cocoa products, food manufacturers have begun to capitalize on the increased consumer demand for alternative solutions to chocolate, as well as regain some lost profits.
“There’s really a concern about obesity in the U.S, so 2012 has seen new concepts, new lines, trying to launch healthier chocolate with low fat,” says Francisco Redruello of Euromonitor International. Todd Hale of Nielsen adds, “Today, it is increasingly about consumers weighing not only the costs of goods, but the multitude of benefits they offer as well.”
Rising demand for healthier versions of this sweet were apparent when the production of “grindings,” a term used for processing cocoa beans for consumer demand, increased by 6 percent in 2012, the biggest annual jump in recent years. Additionally, Mintel published a study showing U.S. consumer preferences swaying away from milk chocolate and towards dark chocolate, with some health benefits including improved brain performance.
Companies have recently created chocolate product lines promoting good health. Nestle USA launched its low-calorie chocolate line in 2011, and it paid off, making the debut one of the snack division’s best yet. Since then, they have expanded their Skinny Cow snack line in the frozen sector, and added Divine Filled Chocolates in individual 130-calorie packs. One year later, Hershey jumped on the bandwagon, and started making Simple Pleasures, a chocolate line with one third less fat than other average chocolates, which has remained immensely popular since its debut.
Once considered junk food, this latest addition of healthier chocolate in the market just might allow consumers to enjoy their favorite treat guilt-free.