Seems Americans can’t get enough of the sweet stuff.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Maybe it’s because I’m dieting, but in these past few weeks leading up to Easter, everywhere I’ve gone I’ve been surrounded by chocolate—lots and lots of chocolate.

According to a new report, Chocolate Confectionery – US 2015, from research firm Mintel, U.S. chocolate confectionery sales increased 24 percent between 2009 and 2014, hitting $21 billion. And it’s not just any old chocolate. Mintel reports, “Chocolate innovation has increased, with new product launches growing 18 percent between 2013 and 2014.”

The U.S. is the world’s largest chocolate market—about 85 percent of American consumers buy chocolate. But, Mintel reports, “the pace of growth slowed [here] in 2014” while the pace of “growth was strong in South Korea, India, China and Vietnam.” However, Mintel predicts “steady growth through 2019, with the U.S. chocolate market reaching $25 billion.”

Want more details? Some 53 percent of Americans eat chocolate at least once a week. Chocolate consumption increases around holidays: About one-third of consumer buy more chocolate for personal consumption then, and another third buy more chocolate to give as gifts.

Over 70 percent of consumers buy chocolate as a treat, while 29 percent consider it “mood enhancing.” Among Millennials (ages 18-24), 41 percent think of chocolate that way.

And, Mintel says, most (71 percent) of chocolate buyers prefer chocolate with “mix-ins” instead of the plain stuff.

The “bad” news is America chocolatiers are losing the innovation battle, with European chocolate-makers leading the way. Of all new chocolate product launches between 2013 and 2014, 51 percent came from Europe, and 12 percent from North America.

The innovation that is coming from the U.S. centers around seasonal products, “largely comprised of new takes on familiar products, such as a change in shape or packaging.” Reflecting the current popularity of mix-ins, most new launches featured chocolate with nuts and nut flavors.

Chocolate buyers are fairly immune to price increases, making chocolate a tempting business to get into.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+   and