Stressed snackers shun chocolate as Europe's crisis bites

Fri Oct 5, 2012 11:32am EDT
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By Sarah McFarlane

LONDON (Reuters) - Europe's economic crisis is nibbling away at demand for chocolate, the affordable treat once thought of as recession proof.

Times are tough enough now that even the market for this modest luxury is struggling in Europe, analysts say.

"For the first part of the recession we thought chocolate would be recession proof, and then we said recession resistant, and now I think people are just getting ground down," said Marcia Mogelonsky, global food and drink analyst at Mintel.

"I have not seen this much of a slowing in the market in the time I've been watching it."

Market researchers Mintel said that while the global chocolate market value will be little changed on the year at $84.5 billion in 2012, Western Europe's chocolate market value is set to fall by around 5 percent.

"Chocolate usually does better than average fast moving consumer goods because chocolate is the archetype of cheap indulgence so it's the last thing people will drop," said Jean-Jacques Vandenheede, European director for retail insights at research firm Nielsen.

The firm recorded its first ever fall in volumes for the fast moving consumer goods sector - made up of low value items which sell quickly - in the second quarter of 2012 since it began monitoring it in 2007.

"If the economic outlook continues to be as sombre as it is now people are not going to rally, they are going to hunker down even more, and spend even less on food, even on chocolate," Mogelonsky said.   Continued...

One Euro coins made of chocolate is displayed in this photo illustration taken in Ljubljana September 11, 2012. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic