The Packaged Facts’ Chocolate Candy in the US 10th Edition report said this figure will follow an expected market size of $22bn at the end of 2015.
Approximately 81% of Americans still eat chocolate, the report said, which will keep the market safe and growing for years to come.
Luxury within reach
George Puro, of Puro Research Group and author of the report, told ConfectioneryNews that chocolate will continue to be popular in the US since it is an “accessible luxury, one that Americans won’t easily give up”.
“Growth areas include the trend for bite-sized snacks in resealable packaging, designed for portion control, portability, sharing and saving for later.
"Another area is the embrace of premium chocolate, which continues to grow at a nice clip, faster than the overall market,” Puro said. “Premium chocolate often contains dark chocolate and other ingredients perceived to be healthy such as chia or pomegranate.”
Trends have also started to converge, he said, as there has been an emergence for brands such as Brookside and Dove Fruit, as well as to-go bottles from M&M.
Keeping all of this in mind, there are still caps on the growth of the industry, Puro said, as price increases may hamper just how large the chocolate market can grow.
“Volume has been somewhat lower recently for the big players, particularly Hershey,” Puro said. “Premium chocolate continues to grow, but it is a relatively small portion of the market still.”
Chocolate and the health conscious consumer
Chocolate is seeing the fruits of the 'better for you' trend, Puro said, as many consumers are looking for ways to eat treats and snacks that are beneficial to health.
“And while consumers may be somewhat down on sugar now, this is affecting sugary drinks more so than snack categories,” he said. “And chocolate manufacturers have definitely been trying to tackle the issue head on - introducing smaller portions and packaging that encourages sharing.”
The Packaged Facts report said the 'positive halo' of health around chocolate has helped give it an image of a 'guilt-free indulgence,' something it said will certainly helped rive more consumption.