Everybody loves chocolate, right? Right! That’s why we see 6,231 food products with chocolate as the flavor launched in North America between January 2007 and February 2012. The top three categories were Bakery, Desserts & Ice Cream, and Snacks.
The top five flavors found in baked goods are chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate & fudge, and cocoa. Dark chocolate has grown steadily in popularity since 2009, presumably because of its new health halo and the fact that we are seeing more cocoa-flavored items on store shelves. Looking at claims, the Low, No- and Reduced-Trans-Fat claims may not be holding the interest of consumers as they once had, at least when it comes to chocolate bakery products. In 2007, 130 items in this category carried the claim, but in 2011 the number had fallen to 55.
Desserts and Ice Cream
Regular ‘ole chocolate reigns supreme, with nearly 500 more launches than the next chocolate flavor, dark chocolate. The “Premium” claim rose 86 percent from 2010-2011 in this category, but it is worth noting that, since 2007, the “Premium” claim has decreased 30 percent overall.
Chocolate and caramel-flavored snack items doubled from 2010-2011. Much of this growth is seen in snack bars. Andrea Wilson, nutrition consultant for ISS Research, LCC, the makers of Oh Yeah protein bars, said: “We didn’t want (the protein bars) to taste like health bars. Our products taste like candy bars and we’re not ashamed about it. They’re supposed to be pleasurable. We don’t want to strip all that away because they’re good for you.” Protein bar flavors include Almond Fudge Brownie, Vanilla Toffee Fudge and Chocolate Carmel. This is great news for consumers, who, despite health concerns, name flavor as the number-one influencer of brand selection for all types of bars (cited by 69 percent of consumers polled).