China Food

Taste, creativity and health! What new “playing methods” can there be under the involution of the chocolate market?

Under the background of
consumption upgrading, consumers’ demands for natural, healthy, nutritious and functional food are increasing day by day, and a large number of new chocolate innovations have begun to “roll inside” madly in flavor, taste, nutrition, health and packaging beauty.
Because of Charlie and the chocolate factory, chocolate is attached with fairy tale color; Because of dove, chocolate is endowed with romantic color; Chocolate has also become a love keepsake for boys and girls because of its sweet story.
However, in recent years, as a popular gift in China, chocolate has been labeled “old-fashioned, not attentive and not up to grade” by young people, and the “sweet and greasy feeling” of chocolate has almost become the resistance for people to consume it.
This can not help but raise a question: How did chocolate “fall out of favor”?
When you think about it carefully, whether it is the “sweetness” given by the people who love it or the “sweetness” described by the people who hate it, as an imported product, chocolate may be only a dispensable consumer product in the final analysis in the consciousness of domestic consumers.
With more and more categories of consumer goods, the rise of flowers, lipstick, digital products, tea bags and other commodities are competing for the limelight of chocolate. Even on Valentine’s day, the chocolate once advertised as a sweet token between lovers is no longer beautiful.
At the same time, with the deepening of the global sugar reduction trend and the changes in the life philosophy and dietary needs of global consumers brought by the epidemic, chocolate, as a representative of high sugar food, is even more unattractive in the face of the trend of healthy consumption.
In this situation, the domestic chocolate market is worrying. With more and more categories, more and more crowded consumption scenes and more and more personalized needs of consumers, how can the domestic chocolate market meet the new consumption battlefield?
Through the emerging brands and products in the international market, we have summarized the following seven innovation directions of the global chocolate industry:
Less sugar, delicious and indulgent
Speaking of chocolate, many people will associate it with “getting fat”. Cbndata’s post-95 online chocolate consumption research report shows that driven by weight management and health, post-95 young people are not enthusiastic about chocolate consumption in the past two years. More and more consumers are looking for delicious and indulgent health chocolate solutions.
As consumers pay more and more attention to the problem of obesity, chocolate manufacturers are also constantly looking for more appropriate raw material composition and technology.
(1) Blood sugar friendly ingredients help chocolate control sugar
Chicory root fiber is a new component developed to promote the trend of hypoglycemic in recent years. Research shows that chicory root fiber can improve the health of digestive system, control the level of blood glucose regulation, and help the human body maintain a healthy weight.
A milk chocolate containing three kinds of nuts released by balance, a brand from Belgium, achieved the sugar reduction goal by adding chicory root fiber instead.
Source: shopee tw
Coincidentally, true food & design, a Japanese start-up, launched true food chocolate based on the fitness group, also added chicory. In addition, while compounding coconut, chicory, Siraitia grosvenorii, CBD seeds and other ingredients, the product also focuses on no sugar, sugar alcohol or artificial sweetener, giving consumers the most primitive and natural chocolate enjoyment.
Source: shopee tw
(2) Seek the way to reduce sugar from chocolate itself
The main source of chocolate is cocoa, which is rich in linoleic acid, which can produce γ- Linolenic acid, eventually converted into type 1 prostaglandins, can help insulin work, so as to stabilize blood sugar and control appetite. Therefore, the “pure cocoa fruit” chocolate launched from the chocolate itself has now become a major innovation leading the industry to reduce sugar.
Nestle’s chocolate brand KitKat launched dark chocolate made of whole cocoa fruit and cocoa beans, completely replacing about 30% of sucrose with cocoa pulp, providing a new chocolate experience for more consumers pursuing health and natural products, and providing a sugar reduction solution of “quality assurance and low cost” for the chocolate industry.
source: kiktat com
It can be seen that sugar reduction is unstoppable and has attracted more and more social attention. However, in the mainstream market, even if consumers are more and more aware of the side effects of sweets, they still want to get a high-quality and pleasant sweets experience. Therefore, after eliminating unwanted ingredients, they can still enjoy delicious food, which is a major trend in the future of chocolate.

Novel taste, innovative taste bud experience

However, sugar reduction is not the only trend in chocolate product innovation. According to the poll released by the grocer, 53% of consumers believe that taste is still the most important factor in choosing chocolate.
In order to meet the needs and preferences of growing consumer groups, while retaining the tradition, chocolate manufacturers began to explore how to bring novel tastes to consumers.

(1) Salt and sweet collide to create a delicious new food fashion

Taking Hogarth, a New Zealand chocolate manufacturer, as an example, it adds butter toast and Malden sea salt to chocolate to create a unique taste of salty and sweet blending, which is highly sought after by consumers. Another sarsaparilla flavor, Hogarth combines sarsaparilla, licorice and ginger with cocoa and orange. The resulting chocolate is very fragrant and refreshing, with preserved orange slices and sweet taste. With these indescribably complex flavors, Hogarth has also won global chocolate innovation awards one after another.
source: the chocolate story

(2) Create a new experience with regional characteristics

In the taste innovation, the creative characteristic taste will also usher in new growth points, and the unique flavor with exotic flavor has become the “experimental field” of chocolate innovators.
Soklet company of India has developed a Maya style chocolate with the bhut jolokia (commonly known as ghost pepper) of Assam, the hottest pepper in the world. The product perfectly balances sweetness and spicy taste; the combination of bright fruit aroma and delicious acidity forms the iconic flavor of this chocolate
Source: soklet in

Collide with drinks to achieve a unique new taste

Not only that, consumers are looking for new taste experience, but also eager to obtain novel sensory enjoyment.
Global data’s global survey in the third quarter of 2019 shows that 43% of people expect to taste cocktail / alcoholic beverage / coffee / tea and other hobby flavors in chocolate, and 71% of consumers want to try fresh and exciting chocolate experience.

(1) Inject alcohol into chocolate

Therefore, we saw the golden soup chocolate products launched by the British classic chocolate brand after eight, which are covered with rich dark chocolate on the golden Soup + Mint sandwich, bringing consumers a novel taste experience.
source: after eight
In the combination of drinks, moonstruckchocolate in Portland, Oregon buys all kinds of award-winning wines, rich and mellow espresso, fresh cream, healthy fruits and distilled brandy from areas known as hometown all over the world to make chocolate. For example, moonstruck brought the top grape varieties of Willamette Valley into chocolate, allowing a unique wine chocolate flavor experience and opening the door to the high-end chocolate market.
source: moonstruckchocolate com

(2) Chocolate elements in beverage products

In addition to combining with alcoholic drinks, ruby chocolate, a new chocolate variety launched by Barry Callebaut in 2017, has also been played with new tricks.
In May 2021, van Houten, a Dutch brand under Barry Callebaut, announced the launch of a new chocolate solid beverage made of ruby chocolate. This chocolate drink has all the flavors and colors of ruby chocolate. The powder can be easily dissolved in any type of milk or hot and cold drinks. Belle garribo said that it was the first company to launch powdered Ruby chocolate, which is a real innovation in the food and beverage industry. The product will be sold to the hotel industry, various coffee bars and cafes.
Source: Foodbev

Functional blessing, delicious and healthier

With the increase of food categories and the blurring of boundaries between categories, the opportunity point of chocolate is also used in dietary supplements that provide more nutritional and functional benefits.
According to innova’s market insight data, the global average annual growth rate of new product release containing cocoa raw materials reached + 7% from 2016 to 2020. Among them, the growth rate of sports nutrition is far ahead of the global release of new products containing cocoa raw materials, and the compound annual growth rate of new sports nutrition products containing cocoa raw materials is + 21%. Dairy products followed, with a growth rate of + 13%.
Mybite vitamins, a well-known British health care brand, launched a milk chocolate daily supplement with chocolate coating and soft sandwich, which wraps nutrients and functional ingredients, including lycopene to promote men’s health and caffeine to supplement energy, New formulations of biotin and folic acid needed by women will be popular with excellent taste and experience.
Source: Walmart com
Turning to the Asian market, Libera, a functional chocolate brand under greeko, a Japanese snack giant, has launched chocolate products with various functions such as improving cold hands and feet, inhibiting fat absorption and protecting eyes based on the health needs of contemporary women. Among them, eye protection chocolate is a milk chocolate specially designed for working women, with eye protection function as the main selling point. Natural astaxanthin is added to the product, which can effectively alleviate visual fatigue. In addition, antioxidant ingredients such as vitamin C and vitamin E are added.
image source: ebisustore

Plant based power, healthy, trendy and environmentally friendly

Among many new releases of chocolate, candy and ice cream, vegetarianism is the most mainstream and mature claim. The proportion of applications suitable for vegetarians has also increased rapidly; From 2015 to 2019, the release of new products of relevant categories with plant-based claims in the world was more prominent, with an average annual compound growth rate of 55%.
The whole plant low sugar chocolate series noons released by candid, an American chocolate brand, has become a representative clean chocolate product in the American market by adding organic quinoa and super food and retaining the cocoa fruit abandoned in the traditional chocolate process.
source: Amazon com
Mars has also launched a chocolate with the claim of “vegetarian” – Galaxy vegetarian chocolate series. The biggest feature of this product is that it replaces the “milk” in chocolate with “plant-based” milk source, and maintains the signboard silky taste. At the same time, the word “vegan” can also be seen on the outer package of the product.
source: Mars official website
In October 2021, coconut water brand Vita coco released a pure vegetarian chocolate beverage without dairy products, which is made of coconut purchased reliably. The company said that choc-o-lot has fewer than 100 calories, is rich in potassium and vitamin C to support immunity, and the new beverage is designed to “overcome the downturn in the afternoon”.   
Source: Foodbev

Add drama to the product with a sense of beauty and ceremony

The new generation of consumers not only want candy and chocolate to be delicious, but also need them to be fun. Innovative brand products in packaging modeling and playing methods can give some inspiration to many brands struggling with sales stagnation and category transformation.

(1) Packaging chocolate with humanistic emotion

The Peruvian chocolate brand Marana craft draws the chocolate production process on the packaging. From cocoa bean picking to processing, it is presented in a folk style, which virtually evokes people’s local feelings.  
source: Marana craft official website

(2) Attract attention with personalized customization

In many consumption scenarios, “ritual sense” is an important starting point of the brand. The unique personalized social products will not only create unique memories for consumers on specific festivals, but also add a layer of value to the brand.
Sugar lab, a digital bakery in Los Angeles, launched a new series of 3D printed chocolate on Valentine’s day this year. The collection includes pure strawberry chocolate truffles and sesame paste and ginger varieties of broken heart truffles. Sugar lab said that by combining innovative production technology and customized design, 3D printing creates a unique and personalized design for consumers in specific scenes, meeting consumers’ desire for a trendy lifestyle.
Source: Foodbev
Create sustainability and tell a good story for products
In recent years, consumers have higher and higher requirements for food. In addition to pursuing taste, health, beauty and fun, more and more consumers also expect enterprises to give back to society and nature. In the international market, it is becoming more and more common to claim to donate environmental protection projects or support public welfare projects on product packaging.
Innova data analysis shows that food and beverage manufacturers are also increasingly concerned about the ethics of the cocoa supply chain. From 2016 to 2020, the proportion of global new product releases containing cocoa raw materials with human welfare claims increased from 14% to 19%, ranking first among all product claims.
For example, the milk chocolate bar launched by endangered specialties chocolate, which focuses on wildlife protection, is marked with the claims of “10% profit for wildlife protection” and “fair trade” on the front of the series of packaging.
Source: chocolate bar
In addition to the sustainability of packaging and auxiliary ingredients, Tony’s chocolate, a Dutch Chocolate Company, has been committed to producing and selling fair trade terms. They buy cocoa beans directly from local farmers to avoid employing slaves and child labor, use the purchase price higher than 20% of the local farmers’ Association to combat exploitation, and publicize the details of the recent rise in cocoa prices to consumers.
Where should domestic chocolate innovation go?
Through the above cases, it is not difficult to see that with the upgrading of modern consumers’ taste and the deepening of health concept, chocolate has moved from the inherent strange circle of dessert and candy to healthy food and functional food in the international market.
source: in collaborative business
However, when we return to the Chinese market, from the consumer side, there is still a gap between Chinese consumers’ awareness and acceptance of chocolate and foreign markets; From the supply side, problems such as insufficient innovation and uneven quality highlight the domestic chocolate short board.
On the one hand, the main raw materials of chocolate are produced in Africa and South America. Most large cocoa plantations are mastered by chocolate giants, while domestic chocolate brands cannot master high-quality raw materials. The use of cheap raw materials makes it difficult for the quality of domestic chocolate to compete with foreign PK, so they can only strive for living space in the low-end market with low profits.
At the same time, the domestic chocolate market has been occupied by foreign brands such as Mars, Ferrero, Nestle, Hershey and Yizi for a long time, and almost few domestic brands can be called on the market. The market environment of the previous generation has created the “foreign worship” psychology of consumers, leaving consumers with the impression that “made in China” chocolates are cheap and cheap. It is difficult for domestic chocolate brands to emerge.
On the other hand, chocolate is a non necessity of life. In the past, many chocolates were placed in the cashier area of supermarkets, which is a place where consumers are prone to impulsive consumption. However, with the rise of Internet shopping and the upgrading of consumer demand, consumers tend to choose products with high cost performance, higher quality and more personality, which has also impacted the chocolate sales of traditional mainstream channels.
In general, the lack of corresponding cultural genes and consumption scenes, mature and innovative product features and highlights, and the combination of healthy consumption that consumers pay more and more attention to, have led to the stagnation of the development speed of China’s chocolate market.
source: Jianshu
But fortunately, challenges are often accompanied by opportunities, and defects can always find ways to make up for them. This reshuffle may bring opportunities for China’s chocolate brands to challenge giants and open up new market patterns.
With the continuous strength of China’s economy, consumers’ national self-confidence and cultural pride are constantly improving, which has promoted the recognition of the new generation of consumers for domestic products. The pursuit of products is more about whether they can find a better sense of belonging in products.
For domestic chocolate brands, if they want to occupy a place in the hearts of consumers, it is very important to improve product quality, innovate and integrate tastes, tap new consumer groups and enrich consumption scenes.
Looking forward to the long-term future, what dimensions should chocolate in the domestic market break the circle?
1. Improve product quality
When you buy a product, you first pay attention to the quality of the product. As a fast-moving consumer goods, the quality of chocolate has always been the focus of consumers.
Nowadays, in the new consumption era of the rise of domestic products, compared with the previous generation pursuing cost performance, the new generation of consumers are more willing to pay for good products. Therefore, domestic chocolate products should get rid of the stereotype of low price in the past, and improve the style of products from the aspects of raw materials, taste and quality.
2. Diversify tastes
The leisure snack market is changing rapidly. Exploring different styles of taste combinations can make products interesting, especially the younger generation of consumers are willing to explore novel tastes and different foods.
In foreign countries, the combination of flavor has been extended to beverages and regional spices. From this perspective, it is also a new idea to integrate chocolate into Chinese local food. For example, the combination of Chinese and Western snacks (including chocolate buns, chocolate dumplings, etc.), regional ingredients or collision with festival cakes not only bring consumers different taste enjoyment, but also meet the attributes of a new generation of consumers to show themselves and be very curious.
3. Enrich consumption scenarios
The ups and downs and waves of global public health events in 2020 have prompted unprecedented innovation in the consciousness and mentality of global consumers. Nowadays, chocolate brings consumers not only desserts to comfort their hearts and special meaning about emotion, but also more diversified development branches and directions. For example, the use of chocolate in workplace women, men and women of childbearing age and children’s nutritional supplement is becoming popular all over the world.
In China, with the upgrading of consumption and the improvement of national nutrition awareness, functional nutritional supplements have been paid more and more attention. Therefore, the brand can carry out common analysis of pain points for new consumer groups such as new middle class, generation Z, her economy, fitness and workplace people, and skillfully make innovations differentiated from traditional candy and chocolate areas according to the consumer needs of different groups.
4. Brand attachment story
No matter how the times develop, human beings can never get rid of their dependence on stories. In consumption, consumers no longer only pay attention to product quality, price, taste and nutrition. A good brand story is also an important factor to shorten the distance between brands and consumers.
Among them, the product, as the real support of the brand, presents the concept conveyed by the brand story. Therefore, products can be endowed with emotional value through packaging, details, selling points, word-of-mouth and communication channels, and the value concept transmitted by the brand can be imperceptibly implanted in the minds of consumers to deepen the impression of the brand in the hearts of consumers.
Then, in the future, how will manufacturers combine with the latest trends to bring more surprises to consumers? We might as well join us to witness the changes in the market.

reference material:

[1] Create functionality, innovation and sustainability! Candy and chocolate also keep up with the new upsurge of health!

[2] Is there a breakthrough in sugar reducing chocolate? Nestle’s first 100% chocolate from cocoa fruit

[3] Innovation without losing tradition, venchi launched – 70% sugar reducing chocolate series

[4] On Valentine’s day, explore the innovation of chocolate texture | inminster insight

[5] Do food brands have to taste the “pain of growth” of chocolate?

[6] Research Report on post-95 online chocolate consumption, cbndata;

[7]《Global Chocolate, Confectionery and Desserts Market 》,GlobalData

Author: Little Zhong; Source: FDL digital food claim (ID: foodatalink), reprint has been authorized. Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246); join the community: Cherry (wechat: 15240428449). related reading

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