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Inside the UK’s enduring love for chocolate

The Cadbury Unwrapped report from Mondelēz International reveals changing consumer attitudes.

Since the opening of its first shop in Birmingham in 1824, Cadbury has delighted the nation with its confectionery and drinking chocolate. It has been with people across the UK for everyday celebrations and seasonal moments.

Research commissioned by Mondelēz International to celebrate the 200-year anniversary of the beloved Cadbury brand, has uncovered a “chocstalgia” trend – with chocolate treats evoking fond childhood memories. The findings are revealed as part of the Cadbury Unwrapped report which unpacks the story behind 200 years of the renowned brand that has evolved and adapted to earn a place in the hearts of generations.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating this incredible 200-year milestone for Cadbury,” says Louise Stigant, UK managing director at Mondelēz International. “It’s a brand that means so much to so many people. Given the British public has played such an important role in Cadbury’s history, we wanted to unwrap the Cadbury brand to reveal more about its enduring magic, while lifting the lid on the latest trends and attitudes towards chocolate in the UK. We’re always adapting and innovating to make sure that our consumers will have something new and exciting to enjoy – and are looking forward to the next 200 years of delicious moments.”

A Taste of Nostalgia

An increasing love of nostalgia and fond foodie memories is driving a connection to chocolate, in an era where “throwback culture” – particularly from the Eighties and Nineties – is prevailing. Forty-five per cent of people who eat chocolate snacks agreed that they remind them of their childhoods, with millennials at the forefront of this trend – over half (56 per cent) of 25-34-year-olds say that eating a chocolate treat reminded them of their younger years. Cadbury remains the nation’s favourite and bestselling chocolate brand, according to research from NielsenIQ and the Grocer.

The classic Dairy Milk, created nearly 120 years ago, became Cadbury’s best-selling chocolate snack in 1913. Investment by Mondelēz International of over £200m since 2012 in Bournville, the historic home of Cadbury, means the site is able to produce 125 million extra Cadbury Dairy Milk bars every year at its Bournville factory, and in 2023 helped the brand to sell over 13.7 million kilograms of Cadbury Dairy Milk.

The Chocolate Renaissance

Mondelēz International continues to support the Cadbury brand to evolve its range to meet changing consumer tastes. Most people who eat chocolate snacks in the UK (58 per cent) agree they like to try new ones. Millennials are driving this trend with over two-thirds of 25-34-year-olds agreeing with this. But this adventurous spirit is also combining with consumers’ love of nostalgia and people are looking for variations on their childhood favourites. Some of Cadbury’s most popular innovations are “twists” on the classic Dairy Milk bar, with flavours such as Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy making the top 10 most sold Cadbury products last year. In the past ten years Cadbury, with the investment it has seen from Mondelēz International, now has over 600 roles in research and development (R&D) in the UK and has launched over 100 new products.

The New Era of Snacking

Evolving the Cadbury brand to adapt to consumer tastes extends beyond the development of new flavours and textures, and the research unwraps consumers’ changing snacking habits, revealing that the UK is a nation of “sharers and savers”. Most adults who eat chocolate (54 per cent) say they would typically eat some and save some for later. Responding to this shift towards a more conscious enjoyment of chocolate, Cadbury introduced resealable packaging on the twin-bar duo range in 2022, and sales of these products have increased by 24 per cent in the past two years (2021-23). This mindful trend continues with the launch of two ranges in 2023: Cadbury Delights, the lower calorie (91 calories) range, and Cadbury Dairy Milk Fruitier & Nuttier, Cadbury’s first non-HFSS (High in Fat, Salt and Sugar) range.

Adam Harris, principal scientist and well-being tech lead at Mondelēz International, says: “Consumer tastes are constantly evolving and our research highlights Britain’s love of trying something new. We are proud that twists on classic treats are being enjoyed so much, showing how heritage and innovation can combine to create something great. Alongside our heritage, we’re also looking to the future; we have around 600 UK employees working in R&D roles, alongside trained chocolate tasters, ensuring we continue to innovate and lead the future of snacking.”

Health and Well-being

As a responsible food business, Mondelēz International recognises the seriousness of rising levels of obesity, and we share the goal of tackling this public health challenge in the UK. Science tells us that obesity is a complex issue with many causes, and reversing its rising levels requires a broad, multifaceted approach. Restricting the advertisement and sale of a narrow set of food categories alone will not solve the problem. We need a whole-systems approach comprising interventions aimed at what we eat and how we live.

We know that we have a role to play, which is why as well as investing in reformulation and the development of new products with well-being in mind, we’re also focusing on other areas where we can make a significant impact: namely portion control and consumer education. This is demonstrated through the recent introduction of a 100-calorie cap on all of our chocolate and biscuit products typically bought by parents for children, while the vast majority of our products also carry Be Treatwise or Mindful Snacking messaging, helping consumers and parents make informed dietary choices and enjoy snacks in moderation. We look forward to continuing to partner with policymakers and experts to advance progress on our shared objectives.

The next 200 years

The role that chocolate plays in people’s lives remains as important as ever – as a snack through which joy can be shared, memories can be created and moments can be celebrated, however big or small. A lot has changed over 200 years, but one thing that has remained constant is Cadbury’s commitment to innovation and putting consumers at the heart of everything it does.

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