Consumer Trends

Chocolate melts into every culinary corner

Chocoholics are rejoicing! Chocolate is showing up everywhere, sometimes in unusual places, pairings and products. The Food Channel, CultureWaves and International Food Futurists took a deeper dive into chocolate trends, identifying 10 that are making waves.

  1. Craft Chocolates: Consumers are sourcing artisanal, single origin and premium chocolate and crafting their own confections. DIY chocolates allow customization of flavors, sweetness and shapes.
  2. Spreadable Chocolate: A little over a year ago, the European brand Nutella was still not widely known in the U.S. Thanks to an aggressive advertising campaign, this spreadable chocolate is now on the tip of many American tongues. Nutella can be used throughout the day, for breakfast, snacking and recipe applications.
  3. Chocolates with an Ethnic Accent: The trend of pairing sweets with ethnic flavors seemed to have started with chocolate. Expect to see more flavor globalization that goes beyond Mexican and Asian (and WAY beyond German or Swiss chocolate). Italian dessert pizzas are popular, and now we may see a range of chocolate dishes with origins from the Philippines and even Africa.
  4. Chocolate in Unexpected Places: Chocolate has been enhancing all kinds of food experiences beyond dessert. Preparations such as biscuits with chocolate gravy or mole sauce over slow cooked pork are menu items we’ve already come across. More chefs are experimenting with chocolate in savory applications—part flavor distinction, part surprise.
  5. Chocolate for the Health of it: “Death by Chocolate” may be a contradictory statement nowadays for the high antioxidant treat that many love. To enhance the benefits, operators are finding new ways to present chocolate as healthy, including mixing it with healthy ingredients like nuts, fruit and grains.
  6. The Cinnamonizing of Chocolate: Adding a little cinnamon to a chocolate prep will subtly enhance the chocolate flavor and make the recipe stand out. New evidence shows that cinnamon also has antioxidant properties.
  7. “He Said/She Said” Chocolate: According to informal studies, it has been proven that chocolate preferences differentiate by gender. Women prefer more intense flavors, such as dark chocolate, and men prefer the sweeter side, such as milk chocolate. Restaurants are starting to do chocolate pairings directed to gender—pairing chocolate and beer for men, for example.
  8. A Chocolate for Every Dietary Need: It has become important to present healthier menu options that are directed to individuals with certain health conditions. To satisfy customers who must eat gluten-free, sugar-free or lactose-free foods, restaurants are now creating chocolate dishes geared to those diets.
  9. Crowdsourced Chocolate: Chocolate is showing up with some unusual combinations in what looks like a mash-up of ingredients. Chocolate fans on Twitter and Facebook are spearheading this trend, reinventing and expanding the ways chocolate can be enjoyed and used.
  10. Chocolate Pairings: With the expansion in chocolate recipe experimentation, we are now seeing chocolate paired with many flavors and ingredients. There’s the classic chocolate and roses, chocolate and cheese and chocolate and wine. The alcohol and chocolate category continues to grow, as does chocolate paired with sea salt.



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