Hard times call for sweet measures. At least that's how Carsten Bernoth explains the recent success of his company. Bernoth is General Manager of the Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI).
Their classics are selling better than they have for a long time - of all times, during the crisis, when consumers are actually turning over every penny. It's about the popular Santa Clauses and Santa Clauses made of chocolate. The German manufacturers produced a total of 169 million such hollow figures this year.
That is six percent more than in the previous year. "In difficult and uncertain political times, it is clear that confectionery is one of the little pleasures of everyday life," says Bernoth. And this despite the fact that prices in the supermarket have recently risen significantly. In October, a bar of chocolate cost at least twelve percent more than in the same month last year.
But the Corona crisis made the sweet mass particularly palatable to many, say analysts from the market research company Mintel. On the one hand, chocolate gave people the opportunity to treat themselves at home.
On the other hand, there is increasing interest in reducing stress, as stated in the company's latest market report. Current figures also suggest this: Around 1.1 million tons of chocolate products were produced for sale in Germany in 2021, as the Federal Statistical Office explains.
Compared to the pre-Corona year 2019, that was six percent more. Arithmetically, 12.9 kilograms of chocolate were produced per capita in 2021. That corresponds to about two and a half bars – a week.
Unlike other corona effects, the trend towards more chocolate is likely to remain, experts predict. The global market will continue to grow - according to the analysis company "Markets and Markets" between 2022 and 2027 by an annual average of five percent.
According to Mintel analyst Richard Caines, the development will be dampened by customers' loss of income and the increasing regulation of unhealthy food. But: “Evenings at home and gifts will support sales during the cost crisis.” After all, eight out of ten consumers would continue to regard chocolate as an affordable treat – despite inflation.
The manufacturers are happy about it, such as Dirk Van de Put, head of the Mondelez group. The company owns brands such as Milka, Marabou and Toblerone. Van de Put commented on the latest quarterly results that the number of people with a sweet tooth who jumped out because of higher prices fell short of expectations.
"We're seeing consumers saying that chocolate really is something they can't live without." Manufacturers also benefited from their customers' brand loyalty. Compared to other products, consumers switched to the cheaper private labels of the retailers much less frequently.
According to the will of the federal government, more organic food and less sugar should be served in day-care centers and canteens. In Berlin, the cabinet approved the cornerstones of Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) on the food strategy. He strives for healthier meals in factories and hospitals.
This is tempting the industry to make new investments: the Swiss company Barry Callebaut is currently investing 50 million Swiss francs in a new factory in India, and a further 100 million US dollars are going into the expansion of a Canadian factory.
One reason for this: Americans are increasingly demanding chocolate chips in ice cream or biscuits, which Barry Callebaut supplies. The Swiss no longer have their own brand. However, their products are found in the products of numerous other companies.
From the point of view of human rights organizations, the popularity of chocolate also has negative sides. Above all, they complain about the strong market concentration of international corporations. And that is at the expense of the cocoa farmers in the south, according to the Inkota network, a non-profit organization.
According to their now published Cocoa Barometer, which shows the sustainability efforts of the sector, each of the four largest companies trades as much or even more cocoa than is grown in all of Ghana. The West African country is the second largest producer in the world after Ivory Coast and produces almost one million tons of cocoa every year.
That depresses prices: the smallholders earn just six to seven cents from a bar of chocolate. In order to prevent child labor, however, it would have to be at least 20 cents, the network claims.
It wrested concessions from the big manufacturers. Lindt
Furthermore, the company became an official member of a children's rights and education initiative. Competitors such as Barry Callebaut, Mondelez and Ferrero are also involved.
Criticism of the production conditions can apparently not harm the success of the chocolate Santa Clauses - consumers still buy them diligently.
"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 5 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.