Even in a recession, frugal consumers shell out cash for popular premium chocolate, but the variety they purchase depends on its value, quality and manufacturer. Analysts said trendy, pricier premium cocoa varieties promote chocolate consumption growth. Throngs of products from smaller specialty as well as major chocolate manufacturers line store shelves. But consumers are buying the sweets less often and more discriminatively as household incomes contract with the U.S. recession and world economic crisis.
Large chocolate manufacturers Barry Callebaut and Hershey Co. delved into the premium chocolate realm previously occupied primarily by smaller-scale specialty manufacturers. In 2008, Mars Inc.'s Mars Snackfood US introduced M&Ms Premiums in flavors such as mint chocolate and raspberry almond, as well as dark chocolate varieties.