According to Mintel, “31% of US consumers are interested in interesting flavors, which should inspire companies to innovate around new flavor profiles.”

There are a growing number of ways to sate your sweet tooth in the confectionery category. Whether you prefer chocolate or non-chocolate, sugar or sugar-free, the goal remains the same: indulgence. According to Mintel, 82% of U.S. adults eat non-chocolate confectionery, while chocolate confectionery sales have risen 15% since 2012. Year over year, the same flavors have ranked highest in the category, including chocolate, sugar and gum confectionery. What does that mean for retailers and brands? Essentially, there’s a big opportunity to draw more appeal and capitalize on the monotony by bringing new, bolder flavors to the aisle.

According to Mintel, caramel is a promising flavor to expand and experiment with. Caramel has remained one of the top three chocolate confectionery flavors over the last five years, tantalizing consumer taste buds with various mixtures of sweet and salty flavors. But the fun’s just begun. “Expanding caramel’s flavor horizon has been a popular subject in social media, with recipes for everything from sriracha caramel to chocolate-covered bacon and caramel candies suggested for the adventuresome home cook. Other caramel-compatible ingredients include blood orange, bourbon, and rose water, and the popularity of burnt caramel has also been promoted over the past year,” states Mintel.

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The innovation is going far beyond caramel, however, as the days of light and dark chocolate are giving way to complex flavor profiles and exotic ingredients. Look at Raaka’s Bourbon Cask Aged Unroasted Dark Chocolate Bar, or Jcoco’s Middle Eastern Spice Chocolate Bars, described as black peppercorn, cumin, cinnamon and cloves in dark chocolate. According to Mintel, “31% of US consumers are interested in interesting flavors, which should inspire companies to innovate around new flavor profiles.”

Flavor profiles aside, a growing number of consumers are interested in vegan chocolate confectionery, meaning chocolates made without the use of dairy or other animal ingredients are on the rise. Mintel reports that global launches of vegan chocolate confectionery have increased 12% between 2017 and 2018. Dardenne 100% Vegetable Chocolate from Morocco, for example, claims to have replaced milk with an almond-based preparation that maintains the same taste and smoothness of a good milk chocolate.

As food and beverage items continue to grow as popular gifts throughout the holiday season, there’s an opportunity for brands to reach consumers interested in new confectionery flavor profiles.

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