We’re living in a world full of chocoholics. According to industry figures, we just can’t get enough of the sweet stuff – with global chocolate sales set to grow to $169 billion by 2026.
Buoyant sales prospects mean more companies than ever want a chunk of the action. But up-and-coming brands need to bring something new and innovative to the market if they want to compete against the big chocolate companies. And many are already pushing the boundaries!
Here are 11 fast-growing chocolate brands that have caught our eye with their fresh ideas and flavours. Their well-crafted product propositions are giving us a sugar high…
1. Tony’s Chocoloney
Dutch ethical chocolate brand, Tony’s Chocoloney, has been rising meteorically in recent years. Its global business has grown by 24% and the brand passed the €100 million revenue mark for the first time in 2021.
The secret to Tony’s Chocoloney’s success is a combination of great flavours and strong principles. In addition to milk and dark chocolate, its product range includes more unusual flavour combinations such as milk almond honey nougat, white raspberry popping candy and dark milk pretzel toffee.
As an impact company, Tony’s Chocoloney is not afraid to marry its confectionery creativity with its core beliefs. Chocolate bars are divided into unequal squares, to remind consumers that profit isn’t being shared evenly through the chocolate supply chain.
Inequitable distribution of wealth is something Tony’s Chocoloney is actively trying to change through its five principles for sourcing slave-free cocoa. It recently partnered with Waitrose to launch three chocolate bars called Injustice, Inhuman and Inequality; designed to get people talking about child labour and slavery in chocolate production.
Image from https://eatloveraw.com/
Vegan confectionery is a massive growth market, and LoveRaw is a brand leading the charge. Its plant-based products – which include m:lk chocolate bars, cre&m wafer bars and peanut butter cups – have been developed with the mantra ‘chocolate first, vegan second’ so there’s no compromising on taste.
LoveRaw’s founders, Rimi and Manav Thapar, wanted to create chocolate that consumers would love “whether they’re extremely vegan, sometimes vegan, ‘unvegan’ or just vegan curious”. And the roll-out of several new SKUs in recent months shows its products are resonating with the market.
The brand is also keen to show its personality through packaging and marketing. Husband and wife team Manav and Rimi are caricatured on the front of each product, and LoveRaw released a mockumentary encouraging consumers to ‘give two fingers to big choc’.
3. COCO Chocolatier
Image from https://cocochocolatier.com/
Chocolate making is an art, and COCO Chocolatier treat confectionery like a canvas – developing indulgent flavour combinations in beautiful, hand-painted packaging. The company describes their approach as being ‘where creativity and cocoa collide’.
While stunning packaging designs draw customers in, Coco Chocolatier is definitely not style over substance. Its chocolate products use 100% natural ingredients and are palm oil free and sustainably produced.
COCO Chocolatier’s more experimental flavour offerings include rhubarb and ginger milk chocolate, lavender milk chocolate and passion fruit dark chocolate. The brand has even teamed up with Temperley London to produce a limited edition three-bar collection: gin & tonic dark chocolate, Isle of Skye sea salt dark chocolate, and salted caramel milk chocolate.
Another fast-growing contender in the plant-based chocolate category is Moo Free, which has created a range of dairy, gluten and soya-free chocolate.
Originally marketed at children, Moo Free is now capturing the adult confectionery sector too. It sells a range of products including full-size bars, mini bars, truffles, vegan easter eggs and chocolate drops for baking.
It’s not only consumers that are interested in Moo Free’s plant-based chocolate, either. The company has also caught the eye of Santander UK, which recently rewarded the brand with a £900,000 funding package to help it sustain sales growth and reach new business goals.
5. Monty Bojangles
Image from https://montybojangles.com
‘Curiously moreish’ is the slogan for Monty Bojangles – and it’s not an exaggeration. With unusual product names like Orange Angelical (candied orange peel swirled through cocoa dusted chocolate truffles) and Ruby Fruit Sunday (biscuit pieces and red berry flavoured truffles), consumers are quickly drawn into the weird and wonderful Monty Bojangles universe.
Monty Bojangles stands out from the crowd because it’s one of the first confectionery companies to use distinctive imagery and branding to disrupt the more traditional chocolate gifting market. To further differentiate itself from other chocolate makers, the brand has focused on creating truffles. Allowing consumers to select a single flavour or build their own ‘truffle trunk’ selection box of 100 treats.
Monty Bojangles is also courting strong industry attention; it was recently named second best brand in the chocolate & confectionery category by The Guild of Fine Food and Fine Food Digest.
Image from https://hipchocolate.com/
When you’re the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury, chocolate’s in your blood. And James Cadbury’s plant-based chocolate brand H!P (made with oat m!lk) is already capturing widespread industry attention, despite only being in business since March 2021.
2021 was a big first year for H!P, as it sold over one million chocolate bars and established nationwide online and in-store distribution networks thanks to strategic partnerships with Ocado and Booths.
And H!P has no intention of slowing down; its Salted Honeycomb Bar launched in January 2022, using melted sugar and bicarbonate of soda to make a bee-friendly vegan version of honeycomb.
7. Bar of Crisps
Image from https://www.chocolate-moments.co.uk/
For consumers that are partial to both a savoury and a sweet snack, Bar of Crisps ensures that people never have to choose between the two with its crisp flavoured chocolate bars!
Created by independent company Chocolate Moments UK, the highly unusual product range includes ready salted, salt & vinegar and cheese & onion flavoured milk chocolate. But the strange combination is proving a big hit! “We have had food bloggers, influencers and consumers going mad for them demanding more flavours,” creator Maria Antoniou told Confectionery Production.
8. Willie’s Cacao
The premium chocolate market is thriving at the moment – a consequence of consumers wanting to treat themselves to something special during the pandemic, especially during periods when restaurants were closed.
Willie’s Cacao is tapping into this trend by working with single cocoa estates to source beans that other confectionery manufacturers aren’t using. And then creates a sophisticated range of chocolate bars, boxes, truffles and cooking chocolate.
Company founder, Willie Harcourt-Cooze, has a passion for adventure and started the business after travelling to Venezuela and deciding to buy a cacao farm. His mission to set up the UK’s first bean to bar chocolate factory was documented in the UK television series Willie’s Wonky Chocolate factory, and after stealing the hearts of British consumers, Willie is now eyeing international sales prospects.
9. Doisy & Dam
Image from https://doisyanddam.com/
Doisy & Dam is another confectionery company on a mission to clean up the industry by ethically sourcing its ingredients. But serious business doesn’t have to mean serious branding: we love the brightly coloured packaging!
The brand’s main focus is improving the quality and reputation of dark chocolate; their tagline is ‘Dark chocolate but fun’. The range of treats on offer includes buttons, drops, eggs, dark chocolate peanuts and truffles. And products can be purchased on their own, as a sharing bundle, or via monthly subscription.
10. PLAYin CHOC
Most children can’t resist sweet treats, and PLAYin CHOC combines the best of both worlds – play and chocolate!
Founders Maya and Dominic Simler created the ethical, organic bean to bar chocolate brand after struggling to find sweet treats with no refined sugars that their children wanted to eat – especially as their eldest son is lactose intolerant.
PLAYin CHOC has given the popular chocolate and toy format a health conscious makeover, following the brand principles of joy + health + planet.
Each sustainable toy is designed to be educational, while product packaging is biodegradable, recycled and recyclable. We’re not surprised that this innovative brand has won multiple industry awards, exports its products to more than 30 countries, and recently crowdfunded £250,000 to scale up its business.
11. Fellow Creatures
Image from https://www.fellowcreatures.co.uk/
Last but definitely not least is a Fellow Creatures: a confectionery brand committed to ethical plant-based chocolate production.
Fellow Creatures pays 60% over the average industry price for cocoa when creating its range of chocolate bars and spreads. It works exclusively with cocoa collaboratives based in Ghana and can track the origins of each product back to the farm on which its raw ingredients were cultivated.
In February, Fellow Creatures secured the seal of approval from B Lab, a non-profit network that certifies companies meeting high standards of accountability, transparency, social and environmental performance.
Growing your confectionery brand without losing its DNA
The brands we’ve featured in this countdown are gaining rapid success because they have a clear customer proposition and brand identity. Something that’s essential to find your place in the highly competitive confectionery market.
The next challenge for many of these companies is developing new product ranges and expanding into overseas markets without compromising their core DNA.
Being innovative is a good thing, but it can cause compliance challenges. From experimenting with new ingredients that don’t have clear legislation, to adapting products and packaging to meet regulations in multiple countries, sometimes practical challenges can hold back company growth.
Hooley Brown supports brands through the scaling-up process, helping them to bring compliant, localised products to market without losing what makes them special. Our goal is to facilitate growth by making sure companies are sales-ready, whenever and wherever the next opportunity arises.
If you’d like to find out more about confectionery compliance and growing your chocolate brand internationally, get in touch with Hooley Brown. Or you can follow us on LinkedIn for more features on the fast-growing CPG companies that are capturing our attention.
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