2023 chocolate and confectionary trends

Back in 2021, our cocoa innovation team predicted the trends that would take center stage in 2022. From consumers favoring environmentally focused brands, to the growth of premium products, functional ingredients, and a desire for exotic flavors - there was plenty to get excited about!


But what will these trends look like in 2023?

We're experiencing a world in flux. Costs are rising for both consumers and food and drink businesses, due to continued supply chain challenges and economic uncertainty. So, let’s dive into how these will impact the chocolate and confectionery trends that play out this year.

1. Premium will prevail in the cost-of-living crisis

A premium feel has been important to consumers for some time. But the continued increase in the cost of living is likely to mean people spend less on premium brands and purchase fewer items. And it puts pressure on brands to keep costs down. When money is tight, quality and value is key, and using premium cocoa ingredients can help enhance this.  According to GWI, 53% of consumers state ‘quality’ as a top factor when deciding which brands to buy. Small, ‘affordable’ treats like candy, confectionery, or chocolate bars do well in recessions as consumers seek a little pick me up. Also, people could shift toward seeking out these moments of indulgence at home, which means they’re more likely to want a premium experience when they do.


ofi’s deZaan brand offers premium cocoa ingredients and innovative solutions to create indulgent and delicious treats, while finding ways to help manufacturers manage production costs.

2. New taste experiences from underused ingredients

For 2022, we said that post-covid, a craving for excitement and adventure would translate into a desire for new and exciting flavors. The latest research by Innova agrees and highlights growing consumer interest in underused ingredients.


Take sugar. Its reputation for being unhealthy and the continued impact on production from Russia’s war in Ukraine means there’s a need for alternatives.This is an opportunity for chefs and manufacturers to introduce flavor variation and address nutritional factors while also adapting to supply concerns.


We’ve also looked at using the right cocoa for reduced or sugar-free chocolate and confectionery recipes that don’t compromise on flavor. For example, we’ve found that red alkalized cocoa powders can help mask off notes from high-intensity sweeteners and plant-based proteins like pea and soy. 

“We’ve been experimenting with underutilized ingredients which provide natural sweetness when blended with cocoa. Our ready-to-eat bite-size ‘cookie dough is healthy, unbaked, and contains no added sugar. It’s sweetened by raspberry and beetroot, which combined with cocoa nibs and our deZaan D11ZR cocoa powder, enhances the flavor profile. Plus, it’s plant-based and gluten-free.” 

Tamara Vissers |

Category Specialist Bakery & Snacks, ofi

3. Sustainability focus shifts

Last year, we thought that growing concerns about the planet would lead consumers to favor brands that can point to the environmental benefits of their products. 


Now, sustainability faces global headwinds as the cost-of-living crisis dominates, and consumers will weigh up affordability over conscious consumerism. However, our latest research shows that 75% of consumers surveyed still say they’d pay more for a sustainable product.


One way for brands to win here is by using cocoa ingredients with segregated traceability. This means the cocoa beans are sourced via a sustainability program, providing social and environmental support to farmers and are kept separate from non-sustainable beans. It’s a more precise way to demonstrate to consumers the origin of the ingredients from bean to bar.

“deZaan offers segregated and traceable cocoa powders, cocoa liquors and cocoa butters. They’re sourced via our Cocoa Compass sustainability ambition, which won Food Ingredients Europe 2022 Sustainability Innovation Award. With our customers, we want to create a healthier future for people and the planet, underpinned by social and environmental metrics from our insights platform, AtSource.

Kamil Sawicki |

Global Head of Cocoa Powder, ofi

4. Plant-based proves its position

The rise of plant-based snacking has felt unstoppable in recent years, with manufacturers placing big bets on the trend. And our recent polling data shows interest is still growing. In fact, 61% of consumers indicate that they are consuming more plant-based products than two years ago.


However, with costs increasing for everyone, brands will need to work harder to show the value of plant-based, not only in terms of taste, but also the health and environmental benefits.

“At ofi, we’ve been running trials to find out which nut protein powders and cocoa ingredients work best in vegan chocolate. We’ve compared hardness, sweetness, 

creaminess, melting profile and the overall sensory experience, with what we’d expect to see in milk chocolate. The right cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and nut protein powder pairing can help manufacturers win on taste, texture and nutrition!”

Lesya Melechyn |

Category Lead Chocolate & Confectionery, ofi

There’s no doubt that 2023 will be a challenging year. But the challenges on the horizon are a chance to innovate, adapt, and find fresh ways to delight taste buds with delicious chocolate and confectionery treats.