Barry Callebaut research shines light on indulgence in chocolate post COVID-19 – Food Ingredients First

14 Jun 2022 — Shifts in consumer attitudes to life affect how consumers indulge, with Barry Callebaut’s research revealing that indulgence and conscious living conjoin in purchasing behavior. And the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic show that one-third (32%) of consumers say they had been indulging more than one year ago. 

“This evolution in consumer attitudes will become increasingly important in the coming years. By understanding this shift, the industry has the opportunity to unlock new opportunities in the world of indulgence,” remarks Bas Smit, global VP marketing at Barry Callebaut.

Craving excitement
Barry Callebaut’s yearly in-depth analysis covers 27 markets and investigates consumer needs, motivations, expectations and behaviors to create mega trends, consumer trends and sector trends.

Following the pandemic, one third (32%) of consumers say that they have been indulging more than one year ago.The chocolate manufacturer digitally fielded its survey on consumer attitudes toward indulgence in August 2021 in Brazil, China, UK, US and France, with 420 respondents per country. 

Consumers today are “enjoying life to the fullest, turning the moment into something special and looking for intense experiences”, details the supplier.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of global consumers say they need to find more excitement. This mindset leads consumers to seek products that are a “feast for the eyes and taste buds.”

When they want to celebrate or indulge, 75% of consumers choose something with chocolate in it.

Texture also plays a key role in enhancing the multifaceted aspects of indulgence. In collaboration with Dutch researchers, Unilever scientists recently studied the design of metamaterials – artificial lab-made materials – to “program” the ideal crack and mouthfeel in chocolates.

Over the last year, examples of inclusions that provide interesting new dimensions in chocolate have expanded beyond nuts, cookies, nougatine, meringue and honeycomb. Crystallized flower petals and even crispy freeze-dried yogurt and honey have emerged in recipes.

“This evolution in consumer attitudes will become increasingly important in the coming years. By understanding this shift, the industry has the opportunity to unlock new opportunities in the world of indulgence,” remarks Bas Smit, global VP marketing at Barry Callebaut.

Living consciously with healthy indulgences
When a consumer “lives consciously”, they live a life that is purposeful and intentional, details Barry Callebaut.

Barry Callebaut recently expanded its North American plant-based portfolio with a dairy-free organic chocolate option (Credit: Barry Callebaut).In this trend, consumers are more actively making choices that positively impact their health, other people, and the environment. For instance, half of consumers have been taking their health more seriously than one year ago.

Moreover, 44% of consumers have been eating healthier compared to one year ago. When consumers have this attitude, they seek “healthy indulgences”, meaning food for health. Out of the same survey, 70% of consumers would love a health-boosting chocolate.

This finding is evidenced by separate research conducted by Glanbia, which uncovered that accentuated appetites for functional foods is growing the commercial potential for protein-boosted snacks into indulgent segments – such as health-haloed pastries and donuts.

More brands are prominently featuring their hero ingredients, such as in the case of milk thistle, found in Danone’s Deliciest Rahka Maisku Valkosuklaavadelma (White Chocolate Maisku Bar) in Finland. This treat combines a thin white chocolate icing on top, a fair dose of soft, fresh milk curd and a raspberry heart inside into a “convenient casserole-like snack” for both children and adults.

However, Innova Market Insights data highlights that savory snacks are still somewhat more likely to feature boosted nutrient claims than sweet snacks (6% versus 4% of total snacks launched globally in 2021) and are also growing faster at a CAGR of 8% from 2017 to 2021 versus 4% for sweet boosted nutrition claim snacks.

Merging attitudes
For many years, consumer research from Barry Callebaut showed two attitudes toward life – one of “Celebrating Life” and the other of “Living Consciously”. In the past, these two attitudes were typically experienced separately.

Recently however, the chocolate manufacturer has seen these attitudes merging. By exploring this, they have discovered a growing need for ‘Living a Symbiotic Life’. This results in three types of coexisting indulgence.

Depending on their mood or mindset, consumers have a specific attitude toward life and that attitude will determine the type of indulgence they choose.

Zurich-based Barry Callebaut reported sales of about CHF 7.2 billion (US$7.9 billion) in the fiscal year 2020/21.“Living a symbiotic life is the sweet spot between ‘Celebrate life’ and ‘Live consciously’,” details Barry Callebaut. “Consumers combine their soft health approach with care for the planet and its people.

Barry Callebaut business highlights
With annual sales of about CHF 7.2 billion (US$7.9 billion) in the fiscal year 2020/21, the Zurich-based Barry Callebaut Group oversees the sourcing and processing of cocoa beans to produce the refined chocolates, including chocolate fillings, decorations and compounds.

Recently, the company expanded its North American plant-based portfolio with a dairy-free organic chocolate. The Plant Craft range includes sweet solutions for confectionery, bakery, ice cream applications and other indulgent categories.

Last month, the supplier announced plans to build a dedicated hub dubbed “Farm of the Future” to power cocoa farming research to support cocoa farming resilience and productivity in Ecuador.

This came shortly after the chocolate giant revealed targets to set up a direct distribution network in South Africa to meet the increasing demand for premium chocolate indulgence while expanding its markets in Africa.

Edited by Benjamin Ferrer

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