According to “The U.S. Chocolate Market,” a new research study by Packaged Facts, the chocolate market experienced a total growth rate of 19.1% between 1996 and 2000. Furthermore, retail sales of chocolate rang in at $13.7 billion, and this may be only the beginning.

As noted by Marzia Marzi, marketing director for, “Despite this increase in chocolate sales, the U.S. candy market has not yet matured, leaving room for continued growth. U.S. per capita consumption is 12.2 pounds, whereas in Switzerland, per capita consumption is 22.4 pounds—twice that of the American consumer.”

To feed this need, chocolate marketers in the U.S. have targeted baby boomers and teens. The boomer population is expected to jump by more than 2 million by 2005, and gourmet boxed chocolates and specialty dark chocolates are among the items focused on that group. In addition, organic and functional chocolates to address adult issues of health concerns and the environment may also cater to the boomer's sweet tooth.

The impact from teens is obvious. Those aged 15-19 consume more candy than any other age group, says Targeting that market means a variety of products available and a repositioning of classic items.

Not that chocolate is the only candy enticing consumers, Candy Industry reports the non-chocolate varieties enjoyed a 6% increase in sales (to $3.1 billion) for the 52 weeks ending October 8, 2000. That time frame also saw chewing and bubble gum sales jump 6.3% to $1.1 billion.