World Chocolate Day: Summer flavor trends and ethical sourcing in focus
07 Jul 2021 --- This year’s World Chocolate Day – celebrated every July 7 – brings sourcing challenges to the forefront of debate, along with the most popular summer flavors. FoodIngredientsFirst takes a closer look at trends in chocolate treats, with cooling flavors and camping-inspired tastes witnessing piqued interest.
“Each year, some typical summer flavors hit the shelves. The most emblematic of them all is the s’mores concept, especially in the US,” says Kévin Bangratz, marketing researcher at Prova.
This combination of graham crackers, chocolate and toasted marshmallows is often consumed around campfires, evoking a summery feeling for many consumers.
According to Innova Market Insights, Bakery is the top category for global NPD launched with a s’mores flavor between 2016 and 2020. This is followed by Cereals and Sports Nutrition. However, Alcoholic Beverages and Dairy are the fastest-growing categories for this flavor – albeit from a small base.
One example of s’mores NPD is coffee company Dutch Bros’ Iced Campout Cold Brew and Campout Mocha Freeze, billed as a “final farewell to summer.”
Rolling out in the US this month, Iced Campout Brew combines coffee with chocolate milk and toasted ‘mellow flavor. Meanwhile, Campout Mocha Freeze also features s’mores flavors with a creamy, sweet topping and chocolate drizzle.
Bangratz also observes chocolate’s popularity in frappé coffee during the hot summer months, noting that these drinks can give a feeling of freshness to consumers.
Other chocolate products that offer cooling effects are proving popular in the summer heat. “This is why vanilla ice cream can be a nice flavoring concept for seasonal chocolates.”
Chocolate is taking inspiration from the fruity beverage world too. “Summer is the season for refreshing mocktails and cocktails that we drink on the beach, such as piña colada or limonada de coco. These are also popular flavors for chocolate,” Bangratz continues.
A “Bitter Sweet” campaign
Meanwhile, Fairtrade is using World Chocolate Day to draw attention to the “bitter truth behind unethical cocoa sourcing practices.”
Its Bitter Sweet global campaign features a stop-motion animation called “Unwrap a Fairer Future.”
It aims to show consumers how their everyday shopping choices – such as choosing Fairtrade chocolate – can change the lives and futures of cocoa farmers and their communities.
“The film tells the story of two bespoke bars of chocolate. At first glance, both look good enough to eat, but once the wrapper is unpeeled, one bar tells a very different story,” explains David Taylor, Fairtrade policy manager.
“Contrasting scenes are depicted in relief on the surfaces of the bars: one is stamped with bitter truths about trade injustice, while the other is imprinted with sweet benefits of Fairtrade cocoa,” he continues.
Tackling poverty and child labor
According to Taylor, the cocoa industry is a turbulent sector, where poverty and child labor are still commonplace, and a living income is reserved for just a few farmers.
“A barrage of low prices, the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising global temperatures mean that farmers don’t have the resources to withstand the shocks they face. This undermines their ongoing efforts to escape poverty and has serious consequences for the long-term supply of chocolate,” he details.
He argues that Fairtrade chocolate gives growers more financial power for them to become more climate-resilient. They are also more able to invest in their businesses, diversify crops, share expertise and build sustainable livelihoods for their families and communities.
Consumer demand transparency
Fairtrade points out that the majority of people expect companies they buy their chocolate from to source responsibility, offer transparency and protect the environment. According to the organization, 57 percent of people are willing to pay more for products and brands that work to improve society and the environment.
Furthermore, in the past year, over half of consumers say they have changed their purchase choices to make a difference on an economic, environmental, social, or political issue.
This ties in with Innova Market Insights’ Top Trend for 2021: “Transparency Triumphs.” The market researcher emphasizes that increasing transparency to meet evolving ethical, environmental and clean label consumer demands is key.
In this space, major chocolate players, including Nestlé and Mondelēz International, recently signed up to the EU’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Business and Marketing Practices, which sets out actions to make healthy and sustainable food choices more accessible.
Younger generations drive sustainability
Cargill is also using World Chocolate Day to emphasize sourcing, noting that sustainability is taking on increased importance in cocoa and chocolate.
According to Cargill’s survey of over 7,000 European consumers, 70 percent of consumers factor sustainability into their food and beverage purchase decisions.
“An even higher percentage of frequent chocolate purchasers (nearly three-quarters) report they prefer to buy sustainable products,” notes Philippe Bernay, commercial marketing lead EMEA at Cargill cocoa and chocolate.
Sustainability concerns influence purchase decisions across demographic groups, with consumers aged 18 to 34 most attuned to these issues.
Among this cohort, 76 percent acknowledged sustainability has become more important to them in the past year when choosing chocolate products, with just over half of these Gen Z and Millennial shoppers reporting a corresponding uptick in sustainable product purchases.
The majority of consumers (68 percent) said they would pay more for a chocolate product made with sustainable cocoa.
Recent launches that tap into demands for sustainable chocolate include Nestlé’s vegan KitKat and Barry Callebaut’s WholeFruit upcycled couverture.
By Katherine Durrell
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