U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $143.56 on Valentine's Day, an increase from 2017's $136.57, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Those aged 25-34 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $202.76.
More consumers plan on purchasing candy in 2018, with 55% expecting to give gifts of candy for a total of $1.8 billion in sales. They plan to buy their gifts for the holiday at department stores (35%), discount stores (32%), online (29%), specialty stores (19%), florists (17%), and local small businesses (14%).
High-end and innovative chocolate is likely to be the main focus for those buying candy for the holiday this year, as the premium market has been rapidly expanding. The global premium chocolate market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% through 2022, according to Technavio. The Americas dominated the market with a 40% share in 2017. Increasing indulgence is seen as a major market driver, while the demand for organic, vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free chocolates is a key market trend.
Other trends we might see in Valentine's Day chocolate this year are new takes on old classics, like new types of milk and white chocolate. Caramelized white chocolate is trending in the confectionary industry, as consumers look for a sweet treat with an added depth of flavor. David Collier, pastry chef at 1789 Restaurant in Washington, DC, says caramelized white chocolate can be used "any way you would use regular chocolate," adding that "it makes a mean ice cream," reported Eater (Feb. 9)
"Blond" chocolate has been used for years by pastry chefs, but now it is hitting the mainstream, with big companies like Starbucks and Hershey using the ingredient. Chocolate company Valrhona launched Dulcey, its commercial version of roasted white chocolate, in 2012, and it was the company's most successful launch ever. In 2017, Valrhona launched a second blonde chocolate called Orelys, which is deeper in color than Dulcey with slight licorice notes.
Another innovation is dark milk chocolate, a sort of meeting place for lovers of both kinds of chocolate. Craft chocolatiers are beginning to create dark milk chocolate to combine the flavor profiles of both chocolate types. Dark milk chocolate is any chocolate composed of over 50 percent cacao, with some added milk, reports Food & Wine (Feb. 5).
Larger international companies have been experimenting with the confection, but smaller American producers are "some of the best examples of the genre," according to Food and Wine. Fruition Chocolate in New York, for example, offers a Marañón Canyon dark milk bar, which is 68 percent cocoa. Its extra dark Marañón Canyon dark milk bar uses the same beans to make a 76 percent dark chocolate version. Florida’s Castronovo Chocolate makes a dark milk with chocolate from Patanemo, Venezuela, which has less sugar than all of its bars, full dark chocolate included. It also offers a Sierra Nevada Colombia Dark Milk, which was voted one of the best milk chocolates in the world in 2016.
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Jennette has been with The Food Institute since 2013. She is responsible for marketing and promoting all Food Institute books, seminars and webinars, as well as writing and editing the Food Institute’s annual publications, such as Food Business Mergers & Acquisitions, The Food Industry Review and The Almanac of the Canning, Freezing, Preserving Industries. Additionally, she writes for and edits the daily news update, Today in Food, and contributes to the weekly Food Institute Report. She has a background in non-profit and environmental marketing, programming and writing, and graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in Communication Studies.
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