Perhaps no ingredient is more synonymous with Valentine’s Day than chocolate. While chocolate lovers indulge in this sweet treat year-round, February 14 gives them an extra reason to enjoy even more chocolate bars and chocolate-covered treats. (Even if you don’t buy into the romance aspect of the day, it’s still a good time to visit the sweets section of your local store.)
If you haven’t spent much time perusing the aisles for chocolate bars and snacks lately, you might not realize how much has changed. Store shelves are filled with options for just about everyone. Take a look at the trends that are keeping chocolate items popular for every type of shopper.
What Are Shoppers Looking For?
A heart-shaped box of chocolates with some flowers might be the classic Valentine, but shoppers are enjoying chocolate in all forms. Looking at SPINS data over the past year, here are the chocolate products showing the most gains based on the percent of dollar growth*:
- Chocolate covered brittle (up 324.7%)
- Chocolate fudge (up 39.6%)
- Chocolate covered toffee (up 15%)
- Chocolate squares (up 14.7%)
Luckily, those products aren’t just satisfying a sweet tooth. Thanks to innovative brands, those chocolate treats meet the needs of shoppers with a variety of wellness goals, diets, and personal preferences. Over the last year, shoppers have proven that they are eager to try products that fit their lifestyle:
- Items that meet Paleo diet needs are up 42.4%
- Items labeled vegan are up 13.4%
- Products free of the 9 major allergens are up 7.3%
- Gluten-free products are up 8.6%
- Items with an organic label are up 4.1%
Products to Look For
We put together some suggestions based on a variety of needs to help you choose the right chocolate treat for your valentine (or yourself). No matter their dietary needs or personal priorities, there’s a chocolate option for your valentine. Here are some products to consider if your valentine…
Cares About Conservation
Endangered Species’ Oat Milk + 55% Dark Chocolate is a treat for anyone who wants the sweetness of milk chocolate without the dairy. In addition to being Non-GMO Verified, the brand donates 10% of its net profits to conservation-focused organizations each year.
Is On a High Protein Diet
Evolved found a way to make a dessert for anyone counting their macros. The Dark Chocolate + Hazelnut bites are part of their higher protein line of functional chocolates that contain pasture-raised collagen protein and are gluten-free, dairy free, and contain no refined sugar.
Hu Kitchen’s assortment of grain-free cookies hit a variety of dietary preferences. They are sweetened with dates, contain no added sugar, and are Non-GMO Verified, Certified Gluten-Free, Paleo (except for the peanut butter variation), and Keto Friendly.
Wants a Home-Baked Treat
If you’re inspired to make dessert at home, Lily’s chocolate mint flavor baking chips could be the right choice for a classic recipe. These baking chips are gluten-free, kosher, and they have no added sugars.
Wants a Frozen Vegan Dessert
Sometimes you’re not in the mood for candy; you want a frozen treat instead. Oatly’s frozen dessert can fulfill any ice cream or custard yearnings. And because it’s made from oat milk, it’s a great choice for a vegan valentine.
Is Avoiding Allergens
If your valentine is avoiding the top 9 allergens, Partake’s double chocolate cookies are the perfect choice. In fact, they’re a safe choice for any dessert lover with a variety of dietary needs, as these cookies are also kosher, vegan, and gluten-free.
Wants a Pint of Ice Cream
Straus Family Creamery’s vanilla fudge swirl ice cream lets ice cream lovers enjoy premium ingredients and the comfort of a completely organic product. The brand’s commitment to organic production means their cows enjoy grasses that are free of pesticides and they don’t receive hormones or antibiotics.
Enjoys Milk Chocolate
Tony’s Chocolonely has a seasonal milk chocolate rose raspberry chocolate bar that’s comprised of 32% milk chocolate, rose fudge, and raspberry. Plus, it’s shaped like a heart—who wouldn’t want to receive that?
Wants All the Chocolate
For the chocolate lover who can’t make up their mind, Unreal’s variety pack hits all the classics: milk chocolate gems, almond and peanut butter cups, and bars. Plus, all of the products are made with Fair Trade Certified ingredients and free of artificial flavors and preservatives.
*Based on SPINSScan Natural Enhanced (proprietary), Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI), for percent of dollar change across 52 weeks period ending January 1, 2023.