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    Nielsen: Even Chocolate Melts in Recession

    Can chocolate candy provide a little bit of comfort in difficult times?

    NEW YORK -- Americans’ affinity for chocolate is widespread and well-known. Its household penetration is 97.3 percent, and 96.7 percent of households repeatedly buy chocolate during the year. In a 12-month period, Americans bought chocolate candy on nearly 19 occasions, according to a report by The Nielsen Co., parent of Convenience Store News.

    But even this ubiquitous treat doesn’t seem to be immune to current economic conditions. Since summer, equalized unit volume (EUV) dropped uncharacteristically as consumers try to save money in every possible category. Since July 2008, EUV sales declined to 1.7 percent from 7.3 percent per month. The category includes four segments: chocolate candy, specials, miniatures and dietetic.

    This trend is particularly troubling as chocolate candy has been the growth engine of candy overall, though on a full-year basis, that remains true: total chocolate candy sales increased 2.1 percent to $7.5 billion, according to Nielsen. Overall, non-chocolate candy sales moved up 1.6 percent to $2.5 billion.

    It remains to be seen if chocolate candy can provide a little bit of comfort to Americans during these difficult times, or whether sales continue to decline.

    This report was originally featured in the January issue of Facts, Figures & the Future, a monthly e-publication focused on delivering the latest consumer data and trend information to members of the Food Marketing Institute and clients of Nielsen. Facts, Figures & the Future is published by The Lempert Report/Consumer Insight Inc. and is sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen.

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