The sweet-tooth season kicks off this Saturday as bowls and bags are filled with chocolate. This will of course continue onward as Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday follow. The chocolate business is booming. In fact, business is so good that chocolate candy sales are expected to surpass 26 billion dollars by 2018. This is a delicious first, never seen before by chocolate candy companies.
By the close of 2015, an estimated 22 billion dollars in sales of chocolate candies will be recorded, according to Packaged Facts, a market research company for food, beverage and consumer packaged goods. The estimated four-billion-dollar increase by 2018, in just two years, is significant. In their report, Chocolate Candy in the U.S., 10th Edition, Packaged Facts states that approximately 81 percent of Americans still have a sweet tooth.
Is the high percentage of Americans indulging in chocolate a good thing? There are several reports that insist many Americans are making healthier choices when it comes to diet and exercise. However, chocolate appears to be the exception. “Despite some reports that Americans are starting to eat healthier overall, we still have a long way to go,” said analyst and report author George Puro. “The consumption of sugary drinks has gone down more than consumption of dessert. Chocolate continues to be a small indulgence that Americans aren’t willing to give up.”
Puro also noted that the increase in chocolate revenue is associated with the price increase of chocolate products. Furthermore, the growing body of research discussing the health benefits of chocolate and cocoa may have led to an additional increase in sales. However, while the demand for chocolate is steadily increasing, cocoa prices remain volatile.
Approximately 70 percent of cocoa originates from Ghana and the Ivory Coast. With infrastructure issues, disease and unpredictable weather, cocoa production is somewhat unreliable. The Hershey Company, together with Mars, own 70 percent of the chocolate industry. The Hershey Company plans to improve farming in West Africa through their Nourishing Minds program. The company aims to provide 7,500 farmers with the means to grow peanuts in an effort to establish stable nutrition for families and children in those areas.
The fact that these large corporations are prepared to invest in the infrastructure of local communities is an indication of the health and prosperity of the industry. But how good is chocolate for our health? Cocoa, in its natural form, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years to ancient civilizations in Central America. In fact, the Mayans were possibly the first civilization to cultivate cocoa around 1000 BC. The Aztecs also put an extreme importance on cocoa. They considered cocoa to be sacred and called it the “drink of the gods,” according to a study on the history and health benefits of chocolate published in Chocolate and Health (2012).
Today we can just stroll down the supermarket aisles and choose whichever chocolate bar or bag of chocolate candies that catches our eye. Though most of us can buy as much chocolate as we want, moderation and quality are key when it comes to the health benefits of cocoa.
A study published in Circulation (2007) discusses the benefits of dark chocolate in relation to decreasing heart disease. The study supports chocolate’s high antioxidant content, which also plays a vital role in your overall health and wellness. Chocolate season is upon us, and enjoying some dark chocolate with 70 to 80 percent cocoa per 100 grams — in moderation — can be beneficial to your health.
Do you know the health benefits of your favorite chocolate?
Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flare for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life.