Flavor Insight: Dark Chocolate

August 18, 2021
Flavor Trends

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Dark chocolate is known for its heart health benefits since it contains 2-3 times more flavanol rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk in some form, and sugar. With overwhelming consumer familiarity with dark chocolate, its no surprise that we are seeing 20% global growth since 2016. Let’s dive into dark chocolate and see where it is appearing on the menu, in new products and social media.

Dark Chocolate Social Listening Summary

We conducted a social listening analysis on dark chocolate covering the previous 12 months. An overview is provided below.

410,320 mentions

66% female

Twitter: @tasty posted a video for “7 Rich and Dark Chocolate Recipes.” Some of the recipes included are dark chocolate banana bread muffins, tiramisu dark chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate apricot breakfast bars.

Tumblr: @sweettoothgirl posted many dark chocolate recipes including one for dark chocolate raspberry popsicles from slicedginger.com which includes 3 simple ingredients—dark chocolate being one of them!

1,471 dark chocolate recipes on foodnetwork.com

On Foodnetwork.com 1,417 total recipes appear pop up when searching for dark chocolate. The recipes include mostly desserts from dark chocolate cheesecake, dark chocolate mousse to dark chocolate oatmeal and even dark chocolate martinis.

Dark Chocolate is the Star of Many Desserts

In a recent article of Good Housekeeping Magazine, they showcase how dark chocolate can be the star of many desserts. From a quick mug cake to a recipe for a chocolate babka or even a charlotte russe cake. With 85 recipes available, consumers are sure to find one that satisfies their sweet tooth and skill level including the chocolate fondant soufflés pictured here.

Dark Chocolate On The Menu

967 dark chocolate mentions on the menu

Fine dining is the top restaurant segment, with dessert and beverage as the top menu sections with the most dark chocolate flavored menu items. Desserts account for 72% of all dark chocolate flavored menu items.
Midnight Mocha Cookies and Cream Ice Blended Coffee combines our signature Special Dutch Chocolate, fresh-brewed espresso roast coffee, dark chocolate syrup, and real cookie pieces at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf nationwide.

European Truffle Pie featuring dark chocolate silk, chocolate ganache, chocolate whipped cream and milk chocolate curls, all atop a delectable dark chocolate cookie crumb crust at Baker’s Square nationwide.

The Chocolate Brooklyn Bridge featuring a dark chocolate marquise, poached blueberries and honey vanilla ice cream at The River Café in Brooklyn, NY.

Consumer Awareness of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a fan favorite by all consumer groups and according to Datassential’s Flavor Tool, it is in the 96th percentile among all food and flavors, meaning that consumers love dark chocolate more than 96% of all other items.

  • 70% love or like it

  • 97% know it

  • 90% have tried it

  • Equal popularity across all regions of the U.S.

Dark Chocolate Global New Product Introductions 2015-2020

5,275 dark chocolate flavored new product introductions


  • EUROPE is the top global region for dark chocolate flavored new product introductions.

  • BAKERY is the top product category globally for dark chocolate flavored new products.

  • COCONUT is the top flavor paired with dark chocolate.

Products of Note:

Nuii Ice Cream Adventure Dark Chocolate & Nordic Berry Mini Ice Cream: Includes chocolate ice cream with a Nordic blueberry sauce, coating in dark chocolate with roasted cocoa bean and freeze-dried Nordic blueberry pieces. | Germany

Olmeca Dark Chocolate Flavored Tequila: Described as a unique blend of authentic Mexican Olmeca tequila and the indulgent taste of chocolate. Can be enjoyed chilled as a cold shot or on the rocks. | Ivory Coast

Proteini.Si Dark Chocolate + Hazelnut Cream Protein Donut:  Contains 13 g of protein per serving is sugar-free and contains 239 calories per donut. | UK

Dark Chocolate North America New Product Introductions 2015-2020

917 dark chocolate flavored new product introductions


  • NORTH AMERICA accounts for 17% of the dark chocolate flavored new product introductions.

  • SNACKS is the top product category for dark chocolate flavored new products in North America.

  • PEANUT BUTTER is the top flavor paired with dark chocolate in North America.

Products of Note:

Lidl Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Nut Bars: This Fairtrade product is a good source of protein, low in sodium and free from artificial flavors. 58% of consumers responded that they likely of definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

Kind Clusters Dipped Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Dipped Clusters: Made with almonds as the first ingredient, and comprise cashews, dark chocolate and almond butter. 50% of consumers responded that they likely of definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

York Colliders Layered Peppermint Flavored Dessert: A York peppermint flavored refrigerated dessert with a dark chocolate topping. 55% of consumers responded that they likely of definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

The Takeaways

Dark chocolate is showing growth around the globe with 71% of new products appearing in Europe. We are spotting dark chocolate flavored menu items in a variety of restaurants with fine dining the key restaurant segment. Desserts account for 72% of all dark chocolate flavored menu items. Dark chocolate is extremely familiar with consumers and 70% of all consumers stated that they either love or like dark chocolate with popularity across the US. The question is—is dark chocolate on your Flavor Radar?

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Sources in full report