Retail current value sales within the US chocolate confectionery market increased by 4% in 2012, to reach a value of US$19.3 billion, while retail volume sales declined by 4%.
While the industry suffered some setbacks during the recessionary period, it is expected to grow over the next five years. Companies will likely shift their focus to organic and dark chocolates in order to capitalise on the greater awareness of health issues.
Growth for sales largely stems from increasing consumer demand for premium products as well as higher prices introduced by many of the leading manufacturers.
Furthermore, much of the growth within the US chocolate confectionery sector continues to stem from ongoing innovation from manufacturers. This innovation is focused on flavour, texture, packaging and size in order to meet changing consumer demands.
For example, Hershey and Mars have both released new flavour varieties and new packaging for many of their brands. Meanwhile, smaller chocolate makers continue to offer increasingly indulgent and unique chocolate flavours, such as chocolate with beef jerky or chilli peppers.
Seasonal chocolate represented the fastest growing category in 2012, posting current value growth of 6% to reach sales worth US$1.5 billion. Seasonal chocolate have historically had relatively depressed sales, but in 2011 began to experience strong growth.
This growth largely stems from price increases from numerous manufacturers as well as increased interest in the category due to the introduction of premium products, along with a renewed focus from consumers on treating holidays as an appropriate time to indulge. These holidays include Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and generally any holiday that is typically associated with gift giving or eating.
The US chocolate confectionery market continues to be dominated by two companies. In 2012, The Hershey Co and Mars together accounted for nearly 70% of overall value sales.
Over 2006-11, Hershey dominated the market, making up 41% of chocolate confectionery sales in 2011, while Mars accounted for only 28% in FDMx sales.
One of the most important issues preventing consumers from purchasing chocolate is weight gain, which is increasingly becoming an issue as the obesity rate continues to rise in the US. To address this issue, Hershey has unveiled its new Simple Pleasures chocolate in 2012 which boasts that it contains 30% less fat than traditional chocolate.
For more information on the US chocolate confectionery sector, see the latest research: US Chocolate Confectionery Sector
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