As our lives get busier and we become more serious about healthy living and ‘Better for You’ eating and drinking, chocolate confectionery remains one of British consumers’ favourite permissible pleasures, good news for wholesalers and independent retailers.

Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondel?z International, the UK chocolate market leader says consumers are still looking to enjoy their treats, and willing to trade up to do so:

“In business terms this means the fast-growing premium chocolate segment is adding extra value to the category and bringing in new, higher spending shoppers.”

In both the sharing and countline segments, our increasingly time-poor consumers are seeking out products which both provide pleasure and help maintain a balanced diet, says Susan: “Most of us know chocolate should be enjoyed occasionally, as part of a balanced and active lifestyle, yet the public health challenge remains. As pioneers of the Be Treatwise initiative, we are working to get to the heart of the everyday realities parents face and how we can help them adopt better treating behaviour.

All of our singles are now below 250 calories, while sharing formats in our chocolate range are sealable for portion control.

“Portion control is scientifically recognised as one of the most effective ways to prevent obesity and we are offering more portion control products than ever before. We are empowering people to make informed choices through clear and simple labelling about the nutritional content and ingredients in our products and educating them through Be Treatwise.”

NPD continues to be at the core of Mondelez’s chocolate business. Last August saw the launch of the richest, creamiest chocolate the Cadbury brand has ever produced, Cadbury Darkmilk, made with 40 per cent cocoa. Mondelez has also announced its intention to launch a new version of the classic Cadbury Dairy Milk bar containing 30 per cent less sugar, which it will sell alongside the existing bar. The new bar will launch some time in 2019.

Trading up to a treat

The trend for trading up is also contributing to countlines’ resurgence. Last summer saw the launch of Mondelez’s premium brand Green & Black’s first ever singles, Green & Black’s Truffle and Green & Black’s Praline, aiming to capture the premium singles market, which is growing +46.7%, and meet the needs of consumers looking for a luxurious new way to unwind. Again, these products are below 200 calories.

Cadbury invests substantially in marketing for its countlines, with a £3m campaign for bestselling single bar Cadbury Twirl and a Premier League five-a-side competition last spring on Cadbury’s most popular singles, followed by Cadbury’s biggest ever on pack promotion, Match and Win season two, on Cadbury single lines.

Another added value sector Mondelez is targeting for development is protein bars, currently worth £51m and growing 54% year on year, as mainstream consumers seek fresh ways to boost their energy and balance their diet. Launched last summer Mondelez’s Boost + Protein bar combines protein crisps’ nutrition benefits with the familiar taste of Cadbury milk chocolate and chewy caramel.

Meanwhile sharing continues to be a key trend in chocolate confectionery, as consumers look for products that are ideal for ‘Big Night In’ and family occasions. Tablets play a big role here. As category leader, Mondel?z is driving growth through its Cadbury, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Green & Black’s brands and last year’s launch from Mondelez’s Cadbury-Oreo power cobrand, the Cadbury Dairy Milk Oreo Sandwich.

Chocolate bags are another important part of the sharing scenario. Mondelez has brought a number of its Cadbury hero brands to the increasingly important bitesize category, with the launch of Cadbury Fudge Minis, Cadbury Curly Wurly Squirlies and Cadbury Picnic Bites. Other recent Mondelez chocolate bag introductions include Cadbury Oreo Bites and Green & Black’s Velvet Fruits, the luxury brand’s first bitesize product

“Across the board,” says Susan Nash, “Brits are ‘cocooning.’ We are spending more time creating special moments at home, whether through big nights in or entertaining friends and family. In confectionery, that means sharing products are key.”

The growing trend for personalisation offers an easy way for chocolate givers to show thoughtfulness. Milk Tray, the UK’s number one everyday gift and Toblerone have both launched personalisable gifting sleeves, with Toblerone’s gift packs specifically targeting shoppers at Easter, Father’s Day and Christmas.

Meeting the need for multifunctional gifting, the Cadbury Roses Flower design, featuring a flower-shaped box, taps into consumers’ desire for appealing, giftworthy products during the mini seasons of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and throughout the year. A treat for the boys, the Cadbury Heroes Premier League Tin with its miniature Cadbury favourites is growing +11% annually and is ideal for gifting or sharing.

Completing the lineup, Mondel?z’s Cadbury, Bournville and Fry’s brands lead the selection box category with a 63% share of category value sales. The Cadbury Dairy Milk Classic Collection Selection Box was 2017’s bestselling selection box. New last year, the Bournville Retro Selection Box is filled with Bournville bars in retro packaging, with the history of Bournville inside the pack. Offering more nostalgia, the Fry’s Selection Box is filled with classic Fry’s treats, Peppermint Cream, Turkish Delight and Chocolate Cream.

Nestlé’s big plans for spring Jake Kirkham, Shopper Marketing Manager at Nestlé Confectionery, says Nestlé’s spring range for 2019 will focus on offering consumers its big brands in the season’s best-selling formats, and features innovation in mini eggs, large eggs and giant eggs as well as a new range of ‘Incredible eggs’: “Our brand new large egg launches from Smarties, Rolo, Toffee Crisp and Yorkie ensure there is something for everyone, whilst the specialness of the new Kitkat Chunky Salted Caramel Fudge, Yorkie Raisin and Biscuit and Smarties mini eggs Incredible Eggs is certain to excite consumers.”

Nestlé Confectionery has also invested in a redesign for the full spring range, giving each pack a recognisable and consistent seasonal look. A new nest design features centrally on the front of every pack, alongside clearer descriptions of what each contains, all aimed at communicating more clearly with shoppers.

“This innovation, plus three weeks extra selling-time this year, looks set to ensure that Easter 2019 will be a fantastic profit-boosting opportunity for retailers and wholesalers,” says Jake Kirkham.

In 2019 the Easter season will be three weeks longer than in 2018, so there is huge potential for retailers to capitalise on mini eggs sales, which are popular throughout the full season and attract repeat purchases. Retailers are advised to stock up from early on to maximise sales. The mini eggs segment is worth £73 million and is in long term growth, says Jake. Nestlé Confectionery is the fastest growing mini eggs manufacturer, with sales +62% year on year despite the 2018 spring season being two weeks shorter than the previous year.

The large eggs segment continues to be a key growth driver, worth £80m and growing 12%.

At Easter families and friends enjoy spending time together, and chocolate plays an important part in terms of giving gifts and sharing chocolate treats during this occasion.

Giant eggs are in growth, up 31% from 2016-2018. New for 2019 are two giant eggs from trusted big brands Smarties and Quality Street. Following the success of orange Smarties in 2018 the new Orange Smarties mini eggs giant egg which features an orange flavour chocolate egg shell and a bag of Orange Smarties mini eggs.

Impulse treats are also important in the buildup to Easter. The Smarties and Milkybar Farmyard Friends return for 2019 and will benefit from an updated metallic finish to improve standout onshelf. Like last Easter, shoppers will have the choice of four different foilwrapped hollow chocolate animals from each brand.

The all -important Kids Added Value segment grew 12% in 2018, says Jake Kirkham. “These packs have three key roles in Easter confectionery: top up gift, main gift or egg hunt. Fun eggs make ideal main gifts as they are more gift worthy than other shell eggs such as medium eggs and deliver value through packaging, added gifts or novelty.”

Egg hunt packs continue to be a growing trend, with shoppers enjoying the Smarties and Milkybar Egg Hunt packs in 2018. Both return to the range for 2019 with an RRP of £3.99. Seasonal novelties make ideal top-up gifts and are key to driving value and bringing new shoppers into this segment. The Milkybar Chick in Egg joins the milk chocolate Smarties Chick in Egg.

The Milkybar brand offers shoppers the heritage and trust those buying for kids look for in a gift and is the only white chocolate offering in small eggs. The much-loved mug eggs from Kitkat Chunky, Yorkie and Toffee Crisp are also back, at an RRP of £5.99, the perfect collectable gift from some of the UK’s most famous confectionery brands.

Last but not least are premium eggs, a lucrative area, which grew 12% in 2018 and continues to be a growth opportunity. Brand new for 2019 is the Kitkat Senses premium egg, which comes with a mixed box of Kitkat Senses chocolates and joins the After Eight premium egg, featuring a large mint flavoured dark chocolate egg and a 300g box of the nation’s favourite After Dinner Mints.

Netflix and chill with chocolate treats At-home entertainment and sharing, treating in moderation and quality over quantity were the enduring trends in the chocolate category last year, says Ferrero’s Jodie Wood, the company’s Business Unit Controller responsible for the wholesale sector. “Wholesalers and retailers should be aware of how to capitalise on each to meet consumer demands.”

The sharing bag market continues to be a strong proposition, says Jodie, at almost £1.1 billion and showing consistent year growth:

“About two years ago, we experienced a phenomenon whereby families started hosting more frequent ‘big night in’ events, mimicking the cinema experience without having to leave the home. This has boomed in popularity.

“There’s also a wider pool of seasonal occasions where the sharing bag option naturally wins, and Ferrero products are a staple for many households during these times, whether as a gift, or a treat to enjoy with family and friends. As well as the big occasions, wholesalers and retailers need to be mindful of the ones that happen every single day. It’s always someone’s birthday, or there are opportunities to give gifts to teachers or colleagues, so gifting products such as Ferrero Rocher should be stocked all year round.”

All in moderation

“We make products that are to be enjoyed as occasional treats and as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle. We always encourage responsible consumption and have three core nutritional principles that underpin everything we do. We believe that a balanced and varied diet, combined with small portion sizes and a physically active lifestyle, is the right approach to tackling obesity. That is why our products have always been available as single wrapped portions and over 95% come in portions below 150 calories.

“Confectionery is one of the few categories where consumers are looking for more premium treats, especially at key seasonal trading spikes such as Christmas and spring. This focus on quality is inherent in Ferrero products and is at the heart of everything we do.

“We’re seeing a resurgence in Countlines, with health and innovation being the key drivers. There’s been a lot of innovation tapping into modern day trends and marketing campaigns focused on driving relevancy. Last year, we introduced Nutella B-Ready – a light biscuit filled with creamy Nutella. Containing 115 calories, the Nutella BReady brand is now worth over £15m.

“Gifting and premiumisation makes up a large part of Ferrero’s portfolio, with many of our products lending themselves to gifting and sharing occasions. We are seeing a continued trend towards premium confectionery products, as this is one of the few categories where customers are willing to pay more for a brand they have an emotional connection to.

“The Ferrero Rocher brand in particular is in growth, due in part to the popularity of gifting chocolate and the move towards more premium brands. 70% of consumers are looking for quality over quantity. Ferrero Rocher benefits from its unique taste and texture, accessible both all year round and seasonally with distinctive novelty formats.

“We’ve also focused on bringing younger consumers into the brand and supporting retailers by expanding the products’ appeal. As an example last December saw the opening of our Ferrero Rocher Behind the Layers popup at Westfield, White City, attracting over 37,000 visitors. Consumers were taken on an immersive tasting experience, delving into the delights of each individual layer of the Ferrero Rocher, a powerful way of reinforcing the brand’s taste credentials.

Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s standard chocolate products cover a spread of beloved brands including Mars Bar, Bounty, Galaxy, Maltesers, M&Ms, Milky Way, Revels, Snickers and Twix, consistent sellers all year round. As we closed this feature, Mars had yet to announce their full confectionery plans for 2019. But not to worry – with up to 300 million seasonal product units sold from January to Easter, making it one of the most important periods for chocolate sales, at this moment the company’s focus is firmly on Easter, for which details are to hand.

In 2019, Mars is set once again to get consumers excited with new advertising, new products and bringing back consumers’ Easter favourites, says Chirag Shah, Seasonal Brand Manager, Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK. Given Easter falls late this year, the run up to Easter is even longer and, as a result, the products that wholesalers prioritise throughout the season should vary.

Early on in the season it is important to focus on treats. 68% of shoppers who bought Easter treats like to treat themselves in January, even if they’re trying to be healthier at Christmas, and 70% of shoppers like a sweet treat to pick them up in January. The cream taste sensation of the MALTEASTER Bunny is perfect for wholesalers looking to boost their sales at Easter. It introduced 165,000 new households to Self Eat in 2018, making it the second most popular product in the Self Eat category. However, there is still an opportunity to grow this best-seller by placing it within arm’s reach of shoppers in a display alongside the MALTEASTER® Mini-Bunnies sharing pack, the number four sharing bag at Easter.

With 47% of shoppers saying they feel excitement when Easter treats hit the shelves, it’s vital wholesalers are ahead of the game. This year Mars have a seasonal NPD from the world’s number 1 confectionery brand, M&MS, with M&MS Eggs proven blockbusters in the USA and Australia and now they are here, definitely one for wholesalers to stock up on early. Completing the Mars Easter lineup, since its launch in 2016 GALAXY Golden Eggs has become the number two small sharing bag at Easter.

But before that, Mid spring is all about those special gifting occasions, Valentine’s Day on February 14th and Mother’s Day, on Sunday March 31st. MALTESERS Truffles is Mars UK’s first step into a premium chocolate offering and extend MALTESERS into an all-yearround premium gifting experience.

Introducing this year’s Easter favourite, the MALTESERS® Truffles egg, which is sure to be popular this holiday season following the much talked about launch of MALTESERS® Truffles in 2018. The MALTESERS® Truffles egg has an RRP of £8.

As Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day come round in February, the focus turns towards boxed chocolate. Shoppers spend +3.5% YOY on Valentine’s related items while one in five shoppers spend more to celebrate Mother’s Day. The MALTESERS® Small (100g) and Large Box (360g) are the perfect gift for a loved one and have been proven hits year after year.

With something to cater to all tastes, Mars UK’s CELEBRATIONS range, the number one Boxed Twistwrap brand, is great as a gift for a loved one. The CELEBRATIONS range also includes the crowd-pleasing Gift Box and the bestselling carton, which fits both gifting and gift-to-share shoppers’ needs.

Consumers often leave it to the last minute to buy their Easter chocolate gifts, says Chirag Shah. “Fifty percent of sales occur in the final three weeks, making it particularly important for wholesalers to remain stocked up on gifting chocolate as the season draws to a close. Wholesalers should be aware that shopper decisions are based on whether a product is from a recognised brand, whether it is in either a favourite or premium format, whether the price is right and how special the packaging appears.”

Our growing awareness of health and the impact of the food we eat is influencing purchasing decisions and consumption behaviours, says Matt Legon, Founder of Gnaw Chocolate. However, people striving to be healthier are also realistic, following the 80/20 rule; eating a nutritious, balanced diet and regularly exercising 80% of the time, and indulging a little for the remaining 20%. In the chocolate category these trends translate into:

• Increased sales and demand for more variety with dark chocolate products. Adults in particular are recognising that dark chocolate has a lower sugar content

• The demand for ‘free-from’ choices from those with food intolerances, such as gluten-free and dairy-free

• Parents are also increasingly aware of their child’s food consumption and seeking principled producers with high quality, natural ingredients

• Consumers are increasingly seeking ethical food production and are happy to pay a premium for those brands. Gnaw chocolate takes great pride in ensuring that it is an ethical company, sourcing as much cacao as possible from small plantations to ensure good working practices.

This ethic follows through to the brand’s Norfolk factory, where all packaging is fully recyclable and all power is from 100% renewable energy, among other initiatives to reduce the business’ impact on the environment.

Best Selling Products

Traditionally, confectionery gifting is big business in spring with a string of key gifting dates, Valentine’s, Mothering Sunday, and of course, Easter. However, the latter is no longer all about eggs, says Matt Legon, with gifting bundles of bars, particularly dark varieties, selling especially well for the adult market.

“Sales of higher cocoa dark chocolate bars are increasing and the ‘free-from generation’ has welcomed our new 72% cocoa dark chocolate range. The Gnaw Toasted Coconut and Gnaw Raspberry Crisp premium 100g bars are both dairy-free and suitable for vegetarians. Toasted Coconut bar is also gluten-free, great news for people with glutensensitivity or coeliac disease.”

Following the success of Gnaw’s chocolate and granola impulse range, 2019 will see Gnaw expand its impulse offering to meet demand for lower sugar-higher cacao bars along with vegan and vegetarian options and a new addition to the brand’s mini bar range. Gnaw Chocolate has recently won multiple business awards, with its business growth predicted to increase to over 260% in 2018-2019.

The Wholesaler’s View

Russell Goldman, Buying Director at Rayburn Trading, says:

“Retailers and wholesalers should capitalise on the fact that chocolate buyers are considerably price insensitive – the confectionery favourite is seen by most as an ‘affordable luxury.’ Therefore, although a range of price points is important, you’ll do well to stock a selection of premium chocolate products alongside cheaper options.

“With increasing focus on sugar content, we’ve seen a rise in the sales of treat bags, which are smaller than family packs and therefore seen to provide a healthier option. Also, there is now a demand for low-sugar confectionery, including chocolate bars with no added sugar.

“Consumers will be interested in new and exciting products as well as their usual favourites, so offering a broad selection and keeping up with growing trends is vital, from single chocolate bars to gifting and sharing packs, which will be popular all year round.

“Independent retailers also rely on competitively-priced impulse ranges, multipacks and price-marked packs, as customers feel they’re getting a good deal and, therefore, sales are high.”

“As a wholesaler, in order to maximise chocolate sales, ensure you’re offering a strong choice of products and have eye-catching displays of your best products. Also, offering value for money, with promotions on chocolate products will drive basket value.”

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