Curtis Vreeland
Confectionery Industry Specialist

Health drives chocolate growth

In an industry that was built -- and continues to rely -- on indulgence, it’s ironic that health/wellness has become chocolate’s driving force. In the recently published The U.S. Market for Chocolate, consumer research firm Packaged Facts details how dark chocolate has established the health/wellness phenomenon into the very nib of the chocolate industry.

As the health benefits of dark chocolate have become more widely recognized, all the major players have raced to add dark chocolate to their product lines. Dark chocolate now accounts for 63% of all new chocolate product launches, asserts ProductScan online, a Datamonitor service. The Packaged Facts report estimates that dark chocolate sales climbed to $4 billion (25% market share) in 2006 from $2.5 billion (17.8% market share) in 2002. By 2011, dark chocolate products will account for 30% of the market, the report predicts.

This surge in consumer demand for dark chocolate was a major factor in staving off declines in the entire chocolate industry, whose sales dropped 0.9% to $16 billion last year. During the five-year period of 2002 to 2006, sales of dark chocolate products increased at a 10.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) versus a 3.0% CAGR for the overall chocolate market and a 1.0% CAGR for milk chocolate.

Information about the health benefits of dark chocolate now is so pervasive that consumers attribute to it a wide variety of positive functional capabilities. For example, a survey conducted in late 2006 by cocoa processor Barry Callebaut found that American consumers believe chocolate:

Can boost moral (52%)
Is revitalizing (46%)
Aids the heart and vascular system (31%)
Contains anti-cancerous ingredients (31%)
Enhances memory (16%)
Enhances sexual performance (15%)
Prevents hair loss (5%)

The health/wellness trend has also inspired functional -- with “better-for-you” ingredients -- and diet chocolate products. They are expected to grow to 20% market penetration in the next 10-20 years from the current 2% penetration, predicts Dr. Hans Vriens, Chief Innovation Officer at Barry Callebaut. To handle this anticipated increased demand, most major chocolate manufacturers have established health/wellness research centers. These centers have developed flavanol-enhanced chocolate ingredients, including CocoaPro (Mars), Acticoa (Barry Callebaut) and CocoanOX (Natraceutical). Several flavanol-enhanced chocolate bars are available for sale. These include Mars’ CocoVia snack bar, marketed with a “heart-healthy” tag line, and Hershey’s Antioxidant Milk and Whole Bean Chocolate.

Other health/wellness chocolate products derive their functional benefits from the inclusion of super fruits (e.g., açai, pomegranate, blueberries, black currants and goji berries) and herbs. In 2006, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, now a Hershey company, introduced its Apothecary line, containing 2-oz. cacao elixirs made with cacao, glycerin and herbal extracts. There are six products in this line: Anti-Oxidant, Clarity, Eros, Energy, Moon Cycle and Cacao. Moon Cycle, for example, contains cacao, red raspberry leaf, thistle seed, damiana leaf/stem, rosebud leaf and petal, and vitex berry. Chocolate bar versions of the Apothecary line also are available.

Belgian-based New Tree offers 73% cocoa mass chocolate bars named after their supposed merits: Renew, Blush, Forgiveness, Sexy, Milk, Pleasure, Vigor, Tranquility, Rejoice and Cocoon. Vigor is an “energizing” bar with coffee and guarana extract; Sexy (“chocolate in stilettos”) is another 73% dark chocolate bar, but it’s also spiced with ginger shavings and guarana extract.

Drinking chocolate/cocoa products contain health/wellness benefits, as well. A German medical study found that women who drank one-half cup of flavanol-enriched cocoa daily for three months developed smoother skin. Furthermore, the women’s skin was less scaly and red after it was exposed to ultraviolet light. (European Journal of Nutrition 2007 (46): 53-56)

The health/wellness trend is more than a hankering for a dark chocolate bar. It involves changes far down the supply chain. Consumers want to know if a food is healthy, but increasingly they want to know how the food is being produced. Their concern touches environmental issues (organic and natural products), social issues (fair trade) and food miles (buying local).

It’s no surprise, then, that organic chocolate sales have sky-rocketed. In 2006, sales rose 64.9% to $119.9 million. During the five-year period between 2002 and 2006, organic chocolate sales grew at a 39.5% CAGR rate, compared to 3.0% CAGR for the entire chocolate market. Additionally, its market penetration increased to 0.8% from 0.2%, according to the Packaged Facts report.Look for more products during the coming year that highlight chocolate’s new healthy indulgence persona.

More candy news and trends featured at  C A N D Y  I N D U S T R Y .com

Kedem partners with Tree of Life

The largest producer and importer of kosher confectionery products in the United States, Kedem Food Products, has declared a distribution partnership with Tree of Life, Inc., a distributor of natural and specialty foods. The partnership has made Tree of Life the official distributor of Kedem’s entire line of products in the South Florida market. The joining of the two companies will allow them to explore new product opportunities and attract consumers to their healthy treats.

“We believe this productive and fruitful relationship with Tree of Life in all our product categories will provide new outlets for our rapidly expanding lines of healthy foods and unique specialty items produced in accordance with dietary laws,” said David Herzog, CEO of Kedem Foods.

Kimberly Wallace, Tree of Life’s category director – ethnic, echoed that sentiment.

“Our relationship with the retailers who support the ‘living well’ shopper is at the very core of both our company’s mission and strategy,” Wallace said. “As the consumer’s demands change, we will be there to provide the flavors and foods they are seeking.”

For more information,

Hillside Candy unveils new products

Hillside, N.J.-based Hillside Candy has launched 3.5-oz. stand-up, gusseted bags of its handmade GoNaturally organic candy line, which now includes two new flavors. Pomegranate and Apple join the brand’s original offerings: Ginger, Honey Lemon, Cherry and Honey. GoNaturally candy is kosher, gluten-free, and USDA-certified organic. It also is free from trans fats, preservatives, corn syrup, FD&C colors and hydrogenated oils. The new packaging features new graphics and, in an effort to be environmentally friendly, is recyclable.

“There is a rapidly growing interest and demand for better-for-you organic products from today’s environmentally conscious and savvy consumers,” said Ted Cohen, owner of Hillside Candy. “Our handmade GoNaturally line delivers the ideal solution in the form of a phenomenally tasty, organic candy that is certified by QAI (Quality Assurance Institute/USDA). All of our ingredients are carefully sourced to ensure excellence and organic integrity.”

For more information about Hillside Candy,

Epic Natural Sales to grow Pure Fun

Pure Fun Confections, manufacturer of organic hard candies, has acquired Epic Natural Sales, which plans to grow and expand the candy company’s retail operations.

“We are delighted to be associated with Pure Fun,” said Melanie Melia, president of Epic Natural Sales. “Our customers respond so well to brands that are USDA certified organic and have as much integrity as Pure Fun.”

Epic Natural Sales brings more than 30 years of experience to Pure Fun.

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Endangered Species goes vertical

Much like the theory of evolution goes, Endangered Species Chocolate has gone vertical.

The packaging change for the all-natural milk and dark chocolate bars follows the launch of five organic chocolate bars in vertical packaging. The switch from horizontal to vertical represents the company’s continuing commitment to the planet, which includes reducing paper waste. The newly packaged bars, which feature images of at-risk species, will make more space on retail shelves as well as reduce paper waste from 6% to 1%.

The bars will be available in October in Walgreen’s stores nationwide. They will be available for distributor and retail order in November.

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Shaman Chocolates supports Huichols

Soquel, Calif.-based Shaman Chocolates offers gourmet organic chocolate bars that help support the Huichol Indians living in the Sierra Madre Mountains in central western Mexico. The Huichols are said to be the last indigenous tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions.

Shaman’s certified organic bars are made from Fair Trade chocolate and come in five flavors: Shaman’s Secret (dark chocolate), Shaman’s Heart (dark chocolate with raspberries), Shaman’s Vision (dark chocolate with coconut), Shaman’s Dream (milk chocolate) and Shaman’s Song (milk chocolate with hazelnuts). Created by Brant Secunda -- a shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition -- the bars come in packages featuring Huichol artwork.

“Shamanism pervades every aspect of Huichol life, from the way they plant their corn to the way they raise their children,” Secunda said. “Their joyful way of life reflects a dynamic shamanic tradition that we are proud to be supporting.”

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Fission Fruit Bars

Snack bar manufacturers are producing better-tasting functional varieties, from antioxidant-rich offerings to those with probiotic profiles. That’s according to a recent article in Confection & Snack Retailing magazine.

Case in point: Houston and Ottawa-based iNutrition, Inc. has introduced all-natural Fission Fruit Bars containing just 150 calories each. Available in three varieties -- Fission Fruit, Fission Energy and Fission Fruit Cholesterol Lowering -- the bars are meant to give consumers energy and endurance. Along with containing morsels of real fruit, they are free from refined sugars and trans fats.

“Our mission at is to provide you the very latest sports, lifestyle and nutrition secrets for a long, healthy life,” said a spokesperson for the company.

To celebrate the launch of iNutrition’s latest product, it is providing free shipping and no taxes on all monthly orders.

For more information, .

Check out more new products at  C S - R E T A I L I N G . c o m.