Christmas 2023: Festive flavor trends for cocoa and confectionery

Chocolate has long played a big role in the festive season. Whether that be through the giving and receiving of confectionery gifts – which is central to so many festive celebrations around the world – or purchasing an advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas.


But consumer preferences and habits are shifting.


“Manufacturers need to adapt and evolve to keep pace with changing expectations. This year many will be seeking new and novel Christmas offerings that bring a blend of tradition and innovation” says Naveen Pessani, Technical Category Manager for Chocolate & Confectionery, ofi

This Christmas, we explore some the top trends lighting up the 2023 festive season.

Festive flavors get a hot twist


Christmas spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are long-standing festive flavor staples. But this year, we expect to see consumers get more adventurous with their flavor choice, as more unique and unconventional spice combinations, like chilli chocolate, appear in Christmas food and beverage products.


For brands looking to spice up their festive offering, flavors like chilli work perfectly to deliver a rich and spicy flavor sensation, with notes of nuts and fruits – perfect for warming up this festive season.

Premium advent calendars on the rise


Counting down to Christmas with an advent calendar is a key part of the festive season for many – and a tradition that’s evolving each year. Confectionery manufacturers can use advent as a moment to experiment with new flavors and formulations to create premium calendars that stand out on the shelf.


The global Premium Chocolate market is expected to expand by 8.5% by 2028, according to Market Watch. As a result we’re seeing a growth in premium offerings as manufacturers look to tempt consumers with luxurious choices, such as Italian chocolatier Amedei’s Calendario dell’Avvento, which retails for €65. Meanwhile, others are looking to demonstrate innovation in formulation and respond to growing plant-based demand. H!P’s Oat Milk Calendar is an example of one manufacturer looking to offer consumers a more exciting option this advent.


The brands that will win this Christmas are those that are re-imagining holiday staples and delivering exciting and more premium products to surprise and delight consumers.” says Naveen.

Growth of the artisanal and handcrafted market


Artisanal chocolate can be one of the most affordable luxuries and as consumers seek out unique and special gifts, artisanal confectionery products are a great option to treat loved ones this holiday season. Globally, artisan and premium chocolate launches have been growing over the last five years, with an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4% according to Innova. 


Handmade chocolates, like M&S’s chocolate pinecones, gourmet truffles, and small-batch candies crafted with premium ingredients are all in high demand (Sky Quest). Indulgence is key when it comes to artisan and handcrafted treats, and our single origin cocoa liquor UINM 3025 is works well for pralines containing nut pastes such as hazelnut.

Christmas crafts at home


As the cost of living continues to rise, many consumers may be choosing to spend more time at home. That means home baking is likely to prove a popular festive activity this year, providing families with a fun and affordable way to spend time together over the holiday period, with DIY kits like the Dr Oetker Winter Plum cake mix from Austria to proving popular. 


For some festive baking, our deZaan Black D11B powder is perfect for making indulgent black chocolate and hazelnut cookies. The fudgy and festive cookies pair deliciously with an ice-cold glass of milk, perfect to leave as a treat for Santa.