21 Sep 2023
The Taste Tomorrow chocolate industry trend forecast based on insights from a global survey of 20,000 consumers in 50 countries, along with the latest AI-powered online data analysis.
What chocolate innovations should you be working on? In this 2024 forecast for the chocolate industry, we highlight the chocolate trends that are most popular or rapidly emerging among consumers worldwide. The Taste Tomorrow research provides insight into consumer desires and their motivations you can use to stay ahead of the competition.
These are the 3 hottest trends shaping the 2024 chocolate industry:
These trends find their foundation in the extensive research conducted by Taste Tomorrow, the industry's leading consumer research program in bakery, patisserie, and chocolate. It sets a global benchmark, gathering insights from 20,000 consumers across 50 countries. Our distinctive methodology blends thorough consumer surveys with advanced always-on online tracking using the latest semantic AI techniques, unveiling the core consumer needs and motivations driving these trends.
The research is based on 3 pillars:
AI & Data Science - always-on analysis of social media conversations, searches and mentions in 9 languages, to discover emerging trend signals and predict their growth trajectory
Worldwide consumer survey - human cultural intelligence that is indispensable for decoding which consumer needs, motivations and narratives underlie each trend
Trend Framework - our consumer experts use a globally consistent lens to make sense of the entire trend ecosystem
Find out more about the Taste Tomorrow trend forecast methods.
Snack the stress away
Lots of consumers consider chocolate to be an essential part of a healthy diet. Especially now a positive mood is seen as a part of good health, food that makes you happy becomes the holy grail. Ingredients that contribute to general well-being by lifting your spirits – like chocolate – are highly sought after: 65% of consumers worldwide look for food that delivers on mental health. But the interest truly spikes in the Middle East and Africa (82%) and South America (81%).
Anxiety management and stress reduction are especially important. Some research suggests that the flavonols – plant compounds with antioxidant properties – found in dark chocolate may benefit brain function, so it’s easier to manage stressful situations. Other studies showed that eating cocoa-rich products could improve your mood in the short-term. But aside from all scientific evidence, every chocolate lover, of course, has long known how comforting it can be to enjoy that delicious heart-warming taste.
Consumers who want to benefit from better focus, more energy or a mood boost are increasingly opting for chocolate with botanicals. Botanicals are plant flowers, leaves, roots, seeds or stems that are valued for their medicinal, aromatic, or culinary properties. Think of rosemary, cinnamon, hibiscus, eucalyptus or cardamom. These herbs and spices often enhance the health benefits of cacao.
68% of consumers around the world believe botanicals add to the healthiness of chocolate, a massive increase of 15% compared to 2021. Even more people are convinced of the tastiness botanicals add to chocolate products, namely 73%. This makes botanicals a close runner-up for nuts and fruits as an ingredient that can make your chocolate appear both tasty and healthy.
Chocolate brand Wizards Magic offers a chocolate bar infused with chamomile and lavender, which they call ‘Sweet Dreams’. The chocolate is infused with those botanicals, Bluenesse and vitamin E to help consumers relax and offer a good night’s sleep. They cleverly make use of the perceived health benefits of botanicals, advertising the chocolate for a specific moment and health goal.
Fair for farmers is better for us all
Fair Trade Original, Rainforest Alliance, slave free chocolate, climate neutral, many chocolate wrappers are dotted with certifications and labels that give consumers guarantees on how the cacao was produced. For good reason, because our survey shows that 68% of consumers globally are interested in products that are coming from sustainable farming methods.
Where sustainable farming used to be mostly geared towards soil fertility, biodiversity and non-harmful pest control, we now see the consumer focus shift towards supply chains, sourcing and ethics. A lot of interest goes out to the social impact of cacao farming, with 65% of people now looking for food where they know for sure that farmers receive a fair price and/or living income. In 2021, it was 60%.
A great way to capitalize on the sustainable farming trend is by using chocolate like Belcolade Cacao-Trace. Cacao-Trace chocolate supports the social and economic development of cacao farmers and their communities. There is balanced profit distribution within the value chain, with farmers receiving a unique Chocolate Bonus, a quality premium, on top of the fair pay price for their beans. This approach results not only in better lives for farmers and their communities but also in superior-tasting chocolate for consumers.
Just as tasty and without the guilt
The plant-based movement is taking over the chocolate world. It is no longer just small novel producers who are into animal and planet-friendly chocolate products, even multinational Nestlé has released a vegan KitKat. The food multinational modified the recipe of the iconic chocolate bar so that the ecological footprint is 18% lower than the regular bar. The chocolate is sourced sustainably and the milk has been replaced by a rice-based alternative to stay close to the texture and taste of the original.
The vegan KitKat is in line with the growing consumer appetite for plant-based foods. 56% of consumers around the world buy plant-based food at least monthly, a steep rise from 36% in 2018. Many see plant-based treats as an enjoyable and guilt-free indulgent moment. Consumers are increasingly aware of the food system’s climate impact and take that into consideration in their purchasing decisions, making vegan chocolate a logical choice.
Opting for vegan foods gives consumers a sense of pride, because it signals their health and social consciousness. But the objections that vegan food is less palatable are also waning, as 52% agrees that plant-based alternatives taste as good as animal-based food products. In the chocolate industry, the biggest hurdle to making plant-based creations was the development of dairy-free milk-alike chocolate and white couvertures with the same great workability and versatility of use as its dairy counterpart. But thanks to the current solutions and technologies, there are now plant-based chocolate solutions for professionals available that allow for vegan creations without compromising on taste and texture, thus clearing the road for many new vegan chocolate product launches.
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