Sweet anticipation: Hames Chocolates’ 2024 Chocolate trends to spark new cravings

By staying attuned to the latest trends, retailers can not only meet current consumer expectations but also position themselves at the forefront of the evolving confectionery market in 2024.

This is the view of Carol Oldbury, managing director at Hames Chocolates who readily that while it’s hard to predict what 2024 has in store for the wider food and drink industry, “one thing we can be sure of, is that the popularity of chocolate, will not diminish”.

There are a number of consumer trends, we believe will impact the confectionery market this year, which retailers should be aware of including:

Indulgent treats

As consumer confidence rises, Hames Chocolates predicts shoppers will be increasingly looking for indulgent treats like premium chocolate. In 2023, the treating and snacking market in the UK was worth £13.3bn, with confectionery holding a 40% of this category (worth £5.5bn) (Source: Nielsen 2023) highlighting a significant sales opportunity for confectioners.

Blonde Chocolate

White chocolate is considered to be a growing trend, as it is a good base for delicate flavours, such as lemon. Blonde chocolate – white chocolate with a caramel colour and underlying caramelised tasting notes – will see success due to caramel being the taste one in three consumers choose when they seek comfort (CGA New industry Report, 2023).

“As a forward-thinking and innovative private label chocolate company, we understand the importance of tapping into consumer trends. This is why, in order to capitalise on the growing popularity of blonde chocolate, we are planning to launch a new range later in 2024,” Oldbury says.

Sharing packs

While the Bank of England expects inflation to continue to fall in 2024, cost will remain a high priority for consumers, therefore we expect the ‘big night in’ occasion and confectionery sharing bags to be a significant opportunity for confectioners in 2024. This is supported by research, which found 2 in 5 (40%) consumers planned to go out less often[ (CGA New industry Report, 2023), and three fifths (61%) intended to spend more cautiously (Attest, Top Consumer Trends of 2023, Jan 2023) last year.

Unusual flavours

Consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous when it comes to flavours, which is why our new Hot Chocolate range, which launched in November, comes in a variety of flavours including the more unusual Mince Pie and Milk Chocolate with Irish Cream Flavouring. While unique and unfamiliar flavours are increasingly on-trend, confectionery with traditional and comforting tastes, such as Salted Caramel, Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, Strawberry, Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate, will also continue to be popular with consumers in 2024.

Sustainable ingredients and packaging

We envisage consumers will continue to favour brands that manufacture confectionery in an ethical and sustainable way. This is something that is hugely important us at Hames Chocolates, which is why we work closely with organisations, such as The Rainforest Alliance and Cocoa Horizons. From using the most sustainable ingredients and updating our equipment to reduce our impact on the environment, to working with likeminded suppliers – we are fully committed to helping the planet and supporting cocoa farmers to earn a living income.

The rise of own label

Since the cost-of-living crisis began in late 2021, many consumers have implemented simple measures, such as switching to own label and private products, to save money. This is a trend we expect to continue in 2024.

Carol Oldbury at Hames Chocolates, says the private label confectioner has seen an increasing number of shoppers turning to private/own label brands recently, not only due to it being good value, but also due to the quality, innovation, and choice.

Confidence in the balance of price and quality they provide is at an all-time high – with 41% of shoppers buying more private labels than before the pandemic and a further 77% planning to keep buying them in the future (2022 report from the Food Industry Association (FMI),” she notes. “This shift means many retailers are increasingly revaluating the value of private label items over their branded competitors, which represents a significant opportunity for manufacturers that can provide confectionery private label.”

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