Since the publication of the first edition of this book in 2010, the chocolate confectionery industry has undergone dynamic changes due to the nature of the demand for chocolate. The trends have transformed towards the increasing appeal of premium chocolate, including organic, Fairtrade, single-origin, reduced-sugar, sugar-free, dark and high cocoa content chocolates. This has engendered not only new challenges but also opportunities for all participants in the sector. Until recently, the general perception was that consumption of chocolate in Europe and the United States was beginning to stagnate, as these major chocolate markets were reaching saturation. However, consumption behaviours across these mature markets have recently experienced major changes, also towards premium products. Indeed, the confectionery market has increasingly been characterized by consumer demand for quality, taste, convenience and health, and products addressing sustainability, traceability and ethical and environmental concerns.
New product developments and ‘functional foods’ with wholesome ingredients (foods that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition) have played an important role in the upward trend of this emerging confectionery market. Many research activities have increasingly been conducted on the health and nutritional benefits of cocoa and chocolate. The findings indicate that flavanoids in cocoa may decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) oxidation, helping to prevent cardiovascular diseases. In addition, cocoa’s high content of antioxidants has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer. The demand for dark and high cocoa content chocolate in particular has surged in response to these positive findings.
The chocolate industry has demonstrated a strong ability to meet these challenges and to benefit from the new opportunities brought about through changing consumer demand. Companies traditionally known for milk chocolate products have been introducing new dark and high cocoa content varieties. The global market for dark chocolate is now estimated to represent about 13% of the total market for chocolate tablets (the others being plain milk, plain white and filled chocolate tablets), with a higher share in continental Europe than in the United States and the United Kingdom. Similarly, the certified organic and Fairtrade chocolate markets have been booming, increasing at double-digit percentage rates.
The advent of an increased demand for chocolates has impacted significantly on the demand for cocoa beans in terms of both quantity and quality. Although the chocolate industry has responded proactively to this development, the need still exists for cocoa producers to have further information on the market trends to bolster their zest for increased production for the existing and emerging markets in the Far East such as Japan, China and India. Such information would provide cocoa-producing countries with a better basis for formulating and implementing policies and programmes regarding cocoa production. One of the main challenges facing producing countries, to enhance their revenues from cocoa, is to meet the changing face of consumer demand through improved breeding and farming techniques. As a result of the increasing chocolate consumption trends, the cocoa processing and chocolate manufacturing industry faces an enormous challenge in meeting the demand and quality criteria expected by the consuming populations. This has to be matched vigorously by increasing production capacities of the chocolate manufacturing industry,which also requires a detailed understanding of the science and technology of chocolates.