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Cranberries and Chocolate ?Made for Each Other

Source: Date:2008-11-20
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WHILE globally the emphasis on healthy eating continues to grow at an astonishing rate, weary consumers are increasingly treating themselves to indulgent products, such as confectionery. High-level media coverage has made most consumers aware of the many health concerns reportedly posed by certain food groups, and despite or perhaps due to this, many are reasserting their right to decide for themselves what they should and should not eat. Confectionery and snack sales show that consumers are as keen as ever to treat themselves, but our collective conscience means that many of us are more likely to purchase indulgent products that remove the feeling of guilt. A recent Global Business Insights report found that health and indulgence will dominate the confectionery market in the coming years. The report author, Helen Lewis, remarked that: "Confectionery is intrinsically indulgent, but the future growth of the market will rely on a move away from a sole reliance on this characteristic." According to the report, manufacturers will have to invest heavily in NPD to meet changing demands. Innovation will be the key to success in what is an increasingly competitive sector.

For the love of chocolate

Chocolate is the biggest segment of the confectionery industry in the EU, accounting for up to 49.7% of the overall market in terms of volume salesi. Recent publicity surrounding the health benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa is gradually changing perceptions of chocolate from a very unhealthy product to less unhealthy, or even nutritionally beneficial. Conversely, recent reports about the dangers posed by saturated fat and the UK's FSA (Food Standards Agency) recommendations for decreasing its intake may have wide reaching implications for chocolate manufacturers. It is virtually impossible to reduce the saturated fat content of chocolate under the terms of the European chocolate directive. This stipulates that if you alter the fat in chocolate ?cocoa butter ?you are no longer able to call the product chocolate. Unable therefore to tackle one of the latest baddies in food, chocolate manufacturers need to increase the healthfulness of their products in other ways.

A world of opportunity

Recently, consumer market analyst, Michael Hughes said: "There is a gap in the market for companies to offer products that provide sensory attributes and guilt-free indulgence". An ideal way to achieve this is to add something healthy to the chocolate that does not compromise its indulgent qualities such as taste, mouthfeel and appearance. A key consideration when taking on this challenge is consumer preference for natural products and ingredients. The danger of substituting unhealthy components with artificial ones is that consumers will still shun the product, only for a different reason. One possibility is to increase the healthy properties of the chocolate itself. Companies have started to focus on the natural antioxidants in chocolate and are creating healthier chocolate ranges. They have innovated in a number of ways. Some have successfully reduced the sugar content in chocolate; others have added healthy ingredients, such as dietary fiber and omega-3. Omega-3 fortified chocolate seems like a marketing dream, appealing directly to the growing number of consumers that want guilt-free indulgence.

Just add fruit

Another option is to add fruit. However, not just any old fruit will do. To appeal to those craving indulgence, premium positioning is key and to justify a price premium, luxury, high quality ingredients must be used. Sweetened dried cranberries (SDCs) not only offer the well documented health benefits of cranberries, they are also perceived as sophisticated and are easy to use, natural, tasty and colorful. They are one of few ingredients for chocolate thaNikeLab ACG.07.KMTR

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