APAC consumers increasingly seeking rich flavours, visual appeal and bite-sized formats in chocolate, cakes and confectionery – Cargill

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

A significant proportion of APAC consumers reportedly prefer dark chocolate for its less-sweet taste and higher cocoa content. ©Cargill
A significant proportion of APAC consumers reportedly prefer dark chocolate for its less-sweet taste and higher cocoa content. ©Cargill

Related tags Cargill Chocolate Confectionery Consumer trends

An increasing number of consumers in Asia-Pacific desire an all-round experience when it comes to chocolate and confectionery, including rich flavours like caramel, visually appealing products, and “healthy indulgent” formats, says Cargill.

According to the company’s 2024 TrendTracker proprietary research report, 33% of APAC consumers believe that rich flavours and taste are essential for an indulgent experience.

In particular, two in five consumers are most interested in caramel flavours among chocolate or chocolate products.

“Consumers today place a high level of importance on experiences, which are related to certain flavours. Asian consumers like [the taste of] caramel, with 30 to 40% of them looking for caramel-flavoured chocolate products, and 20 to 30% seeking caramel flavours in cakes and pastries,”​ Xiaoling Liu, Indulgence Leader, Food Solutions Asia Pacific at Cargill, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

In response to this demand, Cargill has developed a range of caramel-based gourmet chocolate solutions under its brands Pâtissier by Aalst Chocolate and Veliche.

In addition to the flavours component, visual appeal has also become a crucial part of the consumer experience.

“To enhance the visual appeal and flavours [of products], Pâtissier by Aalst Chocolate’s Prismatic Coating and Filling are ready-to-use pastes that carry a strong, milky and creamy profile, as well as distinctive colours and flavours.

“The wide portfolio of chocolate, cake and sweets decorations under Smet and Lemanallow chefs to customise and create visual excitement through colours, shapes, and personalised designs.”

At the same time, the TrendTracker reported that more consumers are proactively adopting a holistic approach to health, being more thoughtful and deliberate regarding their dietary choices, and are more selective about ingredients that go into their foods.

“Sugar is the top ingredient that APAC consumers are actively trying to limit in their diet. When it comes to chocolate, 50% of APAC consumers prefer dark chocolate for its less-sweet taste and higher cocoa content, and hold the perception that the darker the chocolate, the healthier and more premium it is.

“Especially after COVID-19, consumers really care more about both physical and mental health, and are more proactive in searching for products that would avoid health issues.”

Besides sugar content, 30% of consumers are said to be looking for products with less additives, compared to 18% in 2022.

Alongside the growing better-for-you category is an increasing demand for bite-sized formats of confectionery, snacks and baked goods.

“For instance, office workers may crave for a chocolate snack but they don’t want to eat too much. They want to indulge but they are also health-conscious, so bite-sized formats are more manageable for them.”

Affordable indulgence

Sustainability continues to be a top-of-mind concern for Asian consumers, with up to 70% of consumers saying that they pay attention to label claims to see if the ingredients of a product are locally sourced.

“Local sourcing is viewed as being more sustainable. This presents a great opportunity for Cargill, due to our Cocoa Promise (an initiative that aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers and their communities while growing cocoa sustainably) and extensive cocoa-sourcing networks globally.”

Another key driver of the chocolate category identified by the firm is the emergence of the middle class.

“Because of the economic development in Asia, people want products or solutions that bring convenience to their busy lifestyles, and that are premium yet affordable — a trend also known as affordable indulgence.”

Insights-driven innovation is at the forefront of how Cargill is addressing these evolving consumer demands.

“For example, we are constantly monitoring and understanding trends. Through the TrendTracker report, we think about how to convert the insights into solutions for our customers.”

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