U.S. Chocolate and Confectionery Market: Premium Segment To Drive the Market Expansion

Cocoa, Chocolate And Confectionery November 24, 2017
Author: Anna Sergeeva
Market Analyst

Chocolate And Confectionery market

The U.S. consumption of chocolate and confectionary is set to increase, driven by ongoing economic and population growth. Consumer income is on the rise; this will contribute to the expansion of the chocolate market in the premium segment – expensive sweets sold directly from where they are produced. Consumer preference is shifting towards organic products and sweets with a low sugar but high cocoa content, which is in line with the idea of healthy eating.

According to market research conducted by IndexBox, the U.S. chocolate and confectionery market was estimated at $17.6B in 2016 in wholesale prices. This figure reflects the total revenue of producers and importers excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price. The value of the market grew steadily with a significant annual average growth rate of +4.1% from 2008 to 2016. An upward trend is expected to continue in the medium term. However, market growth may be affected by the unstable price of raw materials, especially cocoa; cocoa supplies can also be erratic and there is also the ongoing issue of political uncertainty in the cocoa producing countries. 

The increase in consumer spending remains a key growth driver for the chocolate and confectionary market, especially in the premium segment. Thus, confectionery made from purchased chocolate and retailed at the place of manufacture emerged as the fastest-growing product category within the industry. Its output accelerated sharply over the last three years; given this increase, the CAGR of the output stood at +14.5% for the period from 2008-2016. More often than not, these products can be sourced in branded shops that offer exclusive-tasting sweets to their customers. Otherwise, these products are manufactured in small quantities by small businesses, or by hand in a specialist shop.

With the growth of health consciousness, there was a shift in consumer taste preferences towards organic, low-calorie and low-sugar products. This has encouraged manufacturers to invest in the development of sugar-free chocolates and candies. They are also now developing new flavors, particularly non-traditional flavors, designed to boost consumer interest amidst a highly competitive market.

The perceived benefits of ‘healthy and natural’ products have been driving strong growth for chocolate with the heavier cocoa weighting. However, rising cocoa prices, the main raw material in the manufacture of chocolate and confectionery, as well as the increase in sugar prices in 2014 due to the anomalous frosts, led to a significant increase in production costs and caused a rise in the retail price.

The U.S. market remains largely buoyed by domestic production: its share in terms of total consumption has remained at approx. 85% over the last six years, leaving 15% for imports, mainly from the neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico. Nevertheless, the increase in consumption was supported by import growth which outpaced production expansion. As a result, the share of imports in total consumption rose slightly by +3 percentage points from 2008 to 2016. Despite the fact that this share remains perceptible, imports not only intensify market competition, but enhance consumer choice opportunities with products from abroad.

Chocolate and confectionery production in the U.S. was estimated at $16.6B in 2016. The value of shipments in the industry increased robustly from 2008 to 2016, a growth of $596M (or 4%) against the previous year. Chocolate and chocolate-type confectionery products, made from purchased chocolate not retailed at a manufacturing establishment represented a major share of U.S. chocolate and confectionery manufacturing (61% of the total figure in 2016), leaving considerable room for the production of chocolate and chocolate-type confectionery products, made from cacao beans (10%). They were followed by the category chocolate coatings, made from cacao beans (8%), and chocolate and chocolate-type confectionery products, made from purchased chocolate retailed at a manufacturing establishment (7%).

Imports of chocolate and confectionery also experienced steady growth, expanding with a CAGR of +7.5% over the period under review. It finally reached $2.7B in 2016, a growth of 8% against the previous year. Canada ($1.4B) and Mexico ($518M) constituted the major suppliers of chocolate and confectionery to the U.S., together comprising approx. 73% of total imports, which was equal to an 11% share (in 2016) of the total consumption figure for chocolate and confectionery. These countries were followed by Germany and Belgium, each accounting for 5% of the total value of imports in 2016. Increased imports from Canada and Mexico made the most sizeable contribution to enhancing its total volume on the U.S. market. From 2008 to 2016, imports from Canada and Mexico increased at an annual rate of+4.4% and +5.7%, respectively.

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Source: U.S.: Chocolate And Confectionery – Market Report. Analysis and Forecast to 2025