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In 2015, established chocolate confectionery markets in Europe and North America saw volume sales flatten and per capita consumption falter as consumers may be looking across a wider range of indulgence products to satisfy their urge for sweets. While chocolate confectionery still has a strong role as a product that does not require “better for you” (BFY) tags to make it acceptable, it seems that consumers may be indulging, but with less abandon than seen in prior years.

Volume sales in the US and UK were flat between 2014 and 2015. And, among the strongest confectionery markets such as the US and UK, per capita consumption has stalled. In emerging markets, on the other hand, there have been increases in volume sales.

Cocoa sourcing continued to be a big issue in 2015; after having come through the ebola epidemic in Africa relatively unscathed, Côte d’Ivoire remains the world’s biggest cocoa grower, but the country has come under scrutiny both for its labor and its growing practices. Ongoing litigation in the US around child slave labor in Côte d’Ivoire, which brings to light supposed unfair behavior by major manufacturers, will continue to make headlines in 2016 as a number of cases continue to wend their way through the American justice system.

At the same time, interest in origin and heirloom varieties have led to a growth in production in other cocoa lands; while the Americas and Oceania cannot produce enough cocoa to prove to be a threat to Africa, they are opening up opportunities that are likely to find resonance with sophisticated chocolate buyers who would rather spend more for a small amount of curated, unique chocolate than to spend less, but eat more, mass market product.

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Table of contents

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