Portion control seems to be the new buzz-phrase in chocolate and not just for children. According to research undertaken by Kantar for Forecourt Trader’s sister magazine The Grocer, 21% of consumers are interested in portion-controlled bars as a way to manage their calorie and sugar intake.

Manufacturers have already responded to this with, most notably, Mondelez launching Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) Mini Bars especially for the convenience sector.

They are available as 18g single bars, containing just 96 calories, in a specially created counter-top dispenser unit. Also available is a larger pouch pack containing eight individually wrapped bars. Rrp is 35p for the singles and £2.49 for the pouches.

Mondelez believes these Mini Bars are a great way for retailers to drive sales within the category.

Katrina Davison, brand manager for CDM at Mondelz, says: "Smaller portion sizes are one of the key healthy snacking drivers, with over half of consumers claiming they would buy chocolate more regularly if there were more options under 100 calories. Each bar is enough for three or four bites; identified during consumer testing as the perfect and most satisfying amount for a little treat."

And she says this latest launch should be an addition, not an alternative to the wider CDM range in order to drive sales incrementally.

Levi Boorer, customer development director, Ferrero, says the overall societal focus on wellbeing is making people more aware of what they are picking up in store, even if it is an impulse purchase. "Suppliers are responding to that in a number of ways, such as putting a greater emphasis on portion control and showing shoppers how they can treat themselves in a permissible way. At Ferrero we make products that are to be enjoyed as treats and as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle, which is why our products have always been available as individually wrapped portions and more than 95% come in portions fewer than 150 kcal."

Boorer points to Nutella B-ready, which contains just 115 calories and is doing well catering for the mid-morning snacker. "With 54% of consumers looking to satisfy cravings with smaller snacks that won’t ruin their appetite (Mintel), Nutella B-ready is the ideal mid-morning snack, containing 115 calories. This is matched by the demand from consumers for products that support them with portion control, helping them to pace themselves when snacking."

He is pleased with the product’s distribution as it can now be found in three out of four stores in the UK, which Boorer says is a testament to the brand’s versatility in a new category.

In addition, penetration is at 10.1% after only nine months of launch, equating to 2.7m households (Kantar).

Calorie counting

Meanwhile, Mondelez has pledged to bring its chocolate and biscuit products typically bought for children to under 100 calories by the end of the year, as part of its commitment to helping consumers live healthier lifestyles. As an example, Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo Treasures contains just 76 calories.

Mondelez has brought lower calories to the fore for adults too with its Cadbury Dairy Milk 30% Less Sugar. Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelz, says: "We know over a third of consumers are actively cutting down their sugar consumption. At Mondelz our teams have spent years developing lower sugar recipes for some of our most iconic brands, which offer more choice but still taste great. We launched Cadbury Dairy Milk 30% Less Sugar to enable retailers to tap into the lower sugar trend with great-tasting alternatives."

According to Nielsen data it is chocolate sharing bags that are the fastest-growing standard chocolate segment. Mondelz reports that its popular sharing bags are growing by 4%, driven by Cadbury and its premium brand, Green & Black’s.

Bournville moved into the sharing bag format for the first time last year with the launch of Bournville Giant Buttons. The Bournville brand is worth £19.6m and has seen value growth of 42.4% year-on-year. It benefited from the launch of the Bournville Orange 100g tablet last year while this year sees the return of Bournville Old Jamaica, the dark chocolate rum and raisin bar.

Old Jamaica was originally launched in 1970 and has made several appearances as a limited- edition since then. It was relaunched as part of the CDM ’Classics’ range in 1987 and again as part of the ’World of Chocolate’ range in the mid-1990s. It was most recently on shelves 10 years ago, for one year.

Bethany Wenn, Cadbury Bournville brand manager at Mondelz International, says: "Loyal fans of Old Jamaica have been petitioning for the return of the bar on Facebook groups, so we know there is a loyal audience who want to see the brand back again."

Biggest brands

At Nestlé there are new launches from two of the company’s biggest brands. Smarties Buttons in milk and white chocolate variants contain Mini Smarties inside. They are available in a single bag, rrp 65p, and a sharing bag, rrp £1.59. Smarties brand manager Alberto Pisanello, says: "We know that Smarties hold special memories for so many people and they are much loved for their bright colours, taste and texture. At the same time, consumers tell us they like their favourite brands to keep things fresh with exciting innovations and new varieties to try."

From KitKat there is a new Gold Caramel four-finger snack which combines the crispy wafer with a milk chocolate base and a topping of white chocolate with ’sweet caramel notes’. It was launched exclusively in Co-op and Nisa stores on February 3 and will roll out to other stores from the end of March. Nestlé says this Gold variant was launched as a limited edition in Australia in 2018 and proved so popular that it was added to the permanent range. Nestlé marketing director, confectionery, for the UK and Ireland, Alex Gonnella, says: "We’ve had an amazing response to the new KitKat experiences that we’ve introduced over the past few years. I am certain that KitKat Gold is going to be just as big a hit on these shores as it has been down under, especially if the reaction at Nestlé HQ is anything to go by."

A third new KitKat product will appear in biscuit aisles later this year. New KitKat Senses biscuits in Choc Chip Cookie Dough, Salted Caramel and Millionaire’s Shortbread varieties have been launched in Asda and Morrisons but will roll out to the c-store in the second half of the year.

Chocolate with a difference

Rebel Chocolate, in collaboration with Tempo Tea Bar, has come up with Matcha Japanese Green Tea chocolate which contains three servings of Matcha per bar, 20% protein and 40% less sugar than other chocolate. It is also free from lactose, gluten and palm oil.
Neil Robson, co-owner of Rebel Chocolate, says: "We are all about the marriage of great taste and innovation so when Tempo Tea Bar came to us with the idea of incorporating Matcha into our white chocolate I was intrigued. I knew Green Tea was a good source of antioxidants, but when I discovered Matcha contains more than 10 times the amount of antioxidants compared to standard Green Tea, this really got my attention. This means you can eat a single 30g portion and get the same amount of antioxidants as drinking a whole cup of Matcha."
Also available from Rebel Chocolate is a Peanut Power bar. This is a 100% plant-based bar, where the peanut is ground into the chocolate so that it has a smooth consistency. With just three base ingredients (cocoa, peanuts and coconut sugar) this 70% dark chocolate contains 20% protein and just 22% sugar.
Rebel Chocolate’s 30g bars retail at £1.50 and its 90g bars at between £3.95 and £4.50.
Other products in the range include Belgian milk chocolate containing 57% cocoa; Colombian single origin milk chocolate made from Fino de Aroma cocoa from the Huila region of Colombia; and a 44% cocoa White Chocolate, which is described as being ’creamy and buttery’ yet contains half the sugar content of supermarket brands.

Blowing up sales

Such is the popularity of Carb Killa protein bars that, according to IRI data, they are outselling all other chocolate singles (apart from Snickers and Kinder Bueno). "This is a direct result of shoppers opting for chocolate-based protein bars that can provide healthier benefits, choosing products that meet the same taste expectations as chocolate singles all while keeping the sugar content low and the protein levels high," says Alan Barratt, CEO and co-founder of Grenade.
He says an example of star performers would be Grenade’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry bar from its Carb Killa range. Layered with raspberry pieces, it then has a crunchy cocoa nib topping and dark chocolate. And it contains 20g of high-quality whey protein and less than 2g of sugar. It’s also suitable for vegetarians.
"Shoppers purchase Grenade as a healthier alternative to chocolate; combine this with the fact that Carb Killa generates more cash through the till and more profit for retailers, and retailers have a massive opportunity to drive incremental sales," says Barratt.