The business of chocolate

Chocolate is big business. In the UK, Dairy Milk grew 11.7% from £374m to £418m last year, while Milka's sales went up from £8.7m to £21.3m. From these market-leading brands to small independent chocolatiers, hundreds of thousands of jobs rely on the magic mix of cocoa, milk and sugar.

Even hedge funds have broken off a piece of the action. Last year Anthony Ward, a cocoa trader at hedge fund manager Armajaro, bought 7% of the world's cocoa stocks, speculating that the market price would increase. He was right. The price of white sugar is up 51% compared to 2010, dairy is up 20% and cocoa prices are on course to hit a 38-year high next month.

Here in the UK, we are a nation of chocaholics; the average Briton consumes around 10.2kg of chocolate per annum. And this figure is growing every year. According to market research firm Nielson, chocolate sales are up 36% compared to 12 months ago.

Chocolate is the biggest player in the confectionary industry, accounting for over £3.5bn of sweet sales a year in the UK alone. It is also the bread and butter of other sectors: chocolate is the biggest selling Fairtrade product in the UK. Sales topped £342m last year, up from £84m in 2009.

With that in mind, and the UK's biggest chocolate binge season on the horizon, here are a few chocolate facts to keep in mind when you crack open your Easter egg:

  • Dark chocolate is a fast-growing niche. Sales of the strong stuff have almost doubled in two years, growing 96 per cent to £85 million.
  • Approximately 80 million chocolate eggs are sold every year in the UK.
  • The most popular chocolate egg worldwide is Cadbury's Creme Egg. Believe it or not, the ubiquitous Creme Egg first went on sale in 1971.
  • Easter chocolate sales make up 10% of Britain's annual spend on chocolate.
  • £280m was spent on Easter eggs in the four days leading up to Easter 2008.
  • Spending on Easter confectionery increased by 22.5% in 2010 in John Lewis stores.
  • For the ultimate chocaholic, a giant Easter egg made by Duc d'O Belgian, weighing in at 4.5kg and measuring two foot, six inches is now on sale, priced at £169.95.

Hungry for more chocolate data? Check out this infographic to see the relative market share of all the brand leaders in the chocolate industry.

Chocolate infographic

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