Nielsen: Sustainability Drives Growth for Coffee, Chocolate

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Oct 25, 2018

Coffee and chocolate products that make sustainability claims are experiencing sales growth that substantially outpaces their categories as a whole, according to a new Nielsen report.

The report, “What’s Sustainability Got to Do With It?”, looked at forms of sustainability that include absence of artificial ingredients, Fair Trade claims and environmental claims. The last involves claims like carbon neutral, ethically sourced or made with renewable energy. It found that while coffee and chocolate products that make such claims represent only a tiny fraction of these categories, they’re growing far faster than the total categories.

Chocolate making environmental claims represents only 0.2% of all chocolate, but in the 12 months ending in March, its sales grew 22% in dollar volume and 15% in unit volume. Products making Fair Trade claims (usually defined as furnishing a fair price to farmers) were up 10% by dollars and 15% by units. For absence of artificial ingredients, it was 16% by dollars but only 3% by units—probably a reflection of those products’ higher cost. By comparison, the total category experienced unit growth of only 3% and dollar growth of only 5%.

With coffee, the biggest driver was environmental claims. Although such products make up only 0.4% of all coffee, their sales rose 25% by dollars and 52% by units in the 12 months ending last March, while the category as a whole went up only 4% by units and actually dropped 1% by dollars. Fair Trade coffee also did well, going up 21% by both units and dollars.

“Across industries, it’s no secret that consumers care about sustainability,” the report says. “However, brands that are able to strategically connect that sentiment to actual behavior are in a good place to capitalize on increased consumer expectation and demand.”