Even as businesses around the world report massive losses and downward surges in sales, one industry is booming in the age of coronavirus for at least one reason. American love eating chocolate, apparently even more so during a pandemic.
Between March and June, American consumers bought up approximately $3.7 billion worth of chocolate, according to Nielsen. This is good news for brands like Hershey’s, M&M’s, and Snickers, which saw a 6.3% increase from the same period last year.
Before the pandemic struck, sugary snacks and cereal were seeing a downtick in sales. However, since the start of quarantine, with people stuck at home and stressed out by the persisting health crisis, Americans have turned to sweets for comfort. Alongside chocolate’s rising numbers, sales of vanilla, cookies, and crackers have also risen as Americans abandon diets in favor of comforting snacks.
History shows that hard times often lead to a rise in sugary foods. Hershey’s organic sales lept 4.7% between 2008-2010, according to Business Insider. Hershey’s stock is again set to “outperform,” according to financial institution Credit Suisse
Technavio estimates that the chocolate market as a whole will grow by $41.15 billion over the next 4 years. The largest market for chocolate still lies outside of the U.S.—which, despite higher-than-usual sales, remains a “slow growing” region for chocolate manufacturers. Europe dominates the chocolate market, with 37% of market growth attributed to it during the next four years. The most critical areas of Europe, for the chocolate industry, are Germany, the U.K., and Belgium (the latter of which would also prefer you to eat plenty of french fries).
Milk chocolate remains the national favorite. Americans have spent more than $2.9 billion on milk chocolate since the pandemic began. Dark chocolate has also seen a surge in popularity, with sales soaring to 13.6% higher than typical averages. Dark chocolate, as noted by USA Today, has been praised as a stress reliever. Studies show that cocoa products can reduce stress, particularly in female subjects, as well as improve cardiovascular health.