UK chocolate sales decline linked to HFSS regulations and changing consumer habits

Brits are eating less chocolate in 2023 as HFSS (High in Fat, Sugar, or Salt) products face tighter restrictions on where they can be located in stores.

Since October 2022, confectioneries including chocolate are less visible to consumers, and according to Mintel this is one reason for a decrease in sales, along with a shift towards eating chocolate only once every fortnight or less regularly than previously.

The decline in impulse chocolate purchasing, especially as in 2022, means almost seven in ten British consumers declared that they impulsively buy chocolate on promotional deals. In 2023, only a third of British consumers said that they bought chocolate for themselves because it was on special offer.

As part of Mintel’s research into chocolate confectionery it looked at behaviours and attitudes towards the confection in different nations to find out which countries eat the most chocolate.

Germany is another nation of big chocolate consumers. In 2023, Mintel reported that three-quarters of German consumers eat chocolate at least once a week, with more than 10% eating chocolate once a day or more. More than half of German consumers agree that eating chocolate is an affordable way to improve their mood, and most prefer to buy chocolate blocks that can be eaten across multiple occasions.

In terms of which chocolates they eat, Germans aged under 44 are far more likely to purchase single-serve bars compared to older consumers, who prefer blocks. With three-quarters of consumers saying that smaller bars are better for trying different flavours, this suggests that younger consumers are more interested in novel varieties than older consumers.

American consumption of chocolate confectionery falls slightly behind that of British consumers, as 3% fewer Americans have purchased chocolate of any kind in the last three months. However, Mintel’s research reveals that more than four out of five American consumers are eating the same amount or more chocolate than last year.

The US appears to be a stable market for chocolate confectionery. Around two-thirds of American consumers purchase chocolate as a treat, compared to one-third who purchase chocolate as an energy boost, suggesting that chocolate consumption in the US is more commonly for pleasure than practicality. This is further reiterated by the fact that over half of the Americans who ate more chocolate in 2022 attributed it to an increased desire for indulgence.

Consumers in Canada, like those in other parts of the world, seem to have maintained their chocolate consumption levels. This holds true for Canada, where only one in five consumers are eating either more or less chocolate than last year, which causes overall chocolate consumption to balance out. While 9 in 10 Canadians eating chocolate regularly might seem like a large portion of the population, it is comparatively one of the world’s smaller chocolate consumers.

Regarding Canadian attitudes towards eating chocolate, it appears that consumers primarily appreciate the convenience of chocolate snacks, although some prefer to choose more healthy options. More than half of those eating less chocolate and candy in Canada in 2022 have consciously made an effort to reduce their sugar intake. On the other hand, two-thirds of those eating more chocolate and candy in 2022 did so as they are snacking more at home.

The UK is undoubtedly one of the world’s most loyal and consistent consumers of chocolate, with the vast majority of the population eating chocolate regularly and enjoying a wide variety of chocolate types. Similarly, consumers in the United States are eating chocolate on a comparable level to recent years, with most of the population enjoying chocolate confectioneries. Comparatively, German and Canadian consumers eat less chocolate than their counterparts in Britain and America.

In countries where chocolate is a daily indulgence for most, as well as in those countries where it is enjoyed occasionally, the levels and frequency of chocolate consumption have remained steady in recent years. This signals that there is a certain loyalty and consistency in chocolate consumption, and populations are unlikely to drastically change in their chocolate consumption habits. Even in cases where some individuals may consume more or less chocolate than in previous years, the changes are balanced on both sides, resulting in an overall consistent level of consumption.

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