Global gourmet chocolate sales on the rise
MIAMI, March 4 |
MIAMI, March 4 (Reuters) - World gourmet chocolate sales should reach $1.2 billion in 2007 and $1.62 billion in 2008, a researcher told delegates at the International Cocoa Conference.
Judith Ganes-Chase, president and founder of Katonah, New York-based J. Ganes Consulting, said that dark chocolate sales had grown 40 percent in 2005-06.
Ganes-Chase, a food and agricultural commodities specialist for 23 years, was quoting from Packaged Facts as she addressed delegates at the conference at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa on Saturday. She also staked her claim as a self-confessed taster for 42 years.
"I may be giving away my age," she said, "but there isn't a day since I was 5 years old that I haven't eaten some chocolate."
In the clamor to get a piece of the luxury chocolate sector, manufacturers across the world have launched more than 1,000 products since 2002, Ganes-Chase said. That amounts to an average of 250 new products a year.
Germany is blazing the trail in the race to provide premium products, having launched more than 250 products in the past four years.
General cocoa consumption would grow 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2006-07 and by the same margin in 2007-08, Ganes-Chase predicted.
While the health benefits of chocolate and the trend toward luxury have spurred sales in the gourmet market, other low- calorie and low-carbohydrate products have fallen by the wayside. Ganes-Chase cited diet chocolate as a passing fad that had enjoyed some success during the popularity of the Atkins and South Beach diets.
"Sales in diet chocolate fell 43.6 percent, as opposed to sales of non-chocolate sugarless candy, which rose 13.9 percent," she said.
Elsewhere, as chocolate connoisseurship grows, Ganes-Chase identified other trends.
There are cravings, she said, for beans from certain desirable countries, namely Ecuador, Madagascar and the Venezuelan Chuao. The criollo and trinitario beans have eclipsed the forastero and now account for 85 percent of world output.
Fair trade, meanwhile, still only accounts for 0.1 percent of the market with Certified Fair Trade Cacao trading at $1,600 per metric ton.
The chocolate house or cafe has seen a resurgence, she said.
Nevertheless, the Europeans -- famed for their sweet tooth -- are slowing their chocolate consumption, she said.
"European chocolate sales are stagnant," Ganes-Chase said, before pointing to a chart that showed France topping world consumption, followed by Britain and Indonesia.
This reflects a trend in which Asian consumption now exceeds production with the three most important markets in the region, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
In 2005-06, demand from the continent exceeded 600,000 metric tons with Malaysia alone taking 250,000 metric tons.
In the United States, Ganes-Chase warned that chocolate could become a victim of the push for greater accountability within schools over students' diets.
Sixteen states are in the process of passing nutrition and obesity bills that could affect the demand for chocolate from school children.
Ganes-Chase did not overlook gender differences in consumption either, citing a Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania study that determined that chocolate is the most craved food among women.
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