While the final numbers for 2009 aren't in yet, chocolate sales continued to be strong in the U.S. and worldwide, according to Mintel. Even countries not known for their rampant chocoholic population, including India, China and the Ukraine, have seen steady sales since 2005, and growth is predicted through 2013.
It's the Swiss who flash the most cash for chocolate, forking over the equivalent of $206 per person per year. Brits and Belgians follow at $106 and $90, respectively, to satisfy their chocolate cravings. In the U.S., individuals spend just $55 each, while Argentineans devote an average of $35 per year on chocolate confectionery.
Other countries have also seen chocolate bars, bags and boxes flying off the shelves, albeit at lower rates. Brits drove their chocolate market up 5.9 percent in 2009, while Americans purchased 2.6 percent more chocolate than in 2008. Argentinean sales rose 1.8 percent from 2008, China's sales rose 18 percent, and in the Ukraine sales rose 12 percent. In Belgium, a country that produces some of the world's best chocolate, sales increased by 3.2 percent.
"It's clear that despite economic trouble this year, the world's chocolate lovers didn't deviate from their favorite treat," said Marcia Mogelonsky, global food and drink analyst at Mintel. "Chocolate is a small, affordable indulgence for shoppers who are cutting back on spending elsewhere. Even in countries not known for chocolate consumption, sales are on the rise."
Mogelonsky told Marketing Daily that people are fairly rigid about the types of chocolate they buy. In the U.S., they divide equally in their preference for milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
Manufacturers are determined to keep consumers melting over new chocolate varieties. Despite worldwide economic troubles, Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD) reports that manufacturers launched nearly the same number of chocolate products in 2009 as in 2008. In Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, companies have already released more new products than the year before.