Who doesn’t love candy, and chocolate in particular? Whether hot or cold, food or beverage, milk, dark, red or white, chocolate is universal. We eat it in cakes to celebrate; we eat it as ice cream to cool down. Even characters in the impossibly popular Harry Potter series—filled as it is with magic—reach for chocolate when it comes to overcoming the doom and gloom of a dementor attack.
But while love of chocolate—and candy in general—is often enough to overlook any potential nutritional deficiencies, it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to look past the way it has traditionally been produced.
A 2020 review published in the journal Sustainability concluded, “Most consumers are willing to pay more for certified products than for those without certification, and among certifications, they are willing to pay more for ‘Fair Trade’ than for other certifications (12:5586). The same review noted the importance of education when it comes to this behavior and the effect messaging can have on consumers, stating, “Past research supports the idea that ‘pro-ethical’ advertising campaigns have a positive impact on the consumers’ willingness to pay and purchase intention toward Fair Trade chocolate.”
Informa Markets’ proprietary NEXT data and insights tell the same story, showing natural products consumers have a high degree of understanding about fair trade, with 53% indicating familiarity. That was the highest of any theme on user incidence, indicating many people frequently purchase fair trade products–and understand what they are. NEXT data also show high consumer trust levels in fair trade certifications, with 69% indicating trust and 75% associating it with helping farmers escape poverty. Millennials and Gen Z—cohorts totaling 140 million Americans, or nearly half the U.S. population—are the most trusting and most likely to purchase fair trade products, with or without official Fair Trade certification.
This renewed focus on the sustainability of chocolate manufacturing—and its potential impact not just on the environment, but on those who farm and harvest it—means it is no longer enough for a chocolatey treat to taste good. In other words, to stand out in the world of chocolate, it’s time to start taking some of the guilt out of this guilty pleasure.
To read this article in its entirety, check out the Permissible indulgence: Strategies for better-for-you confectionery – digital magazine.