* Mintel sees West Europe 2012 market value down 5 pct
* Europe Q3 cocoa grind seen falling by up to 20 pct
* Emerging markets in Asia are growth bright spot
LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Europe's economic crisis is
nibbling away at demand for chocolate, the affordable treat once
thought of as recession proof.
Times are tough enough now that even the market for this
modest luxury is struggling in Europe, analysts say.
"For the first part of the recession we thought chocolate
would be recession proof, and then we said recession resistant,
and now I think people are just getting ground down," said
Marcia Mogelonsky, global food and drink analyst at Mintel.
"I have not seen this much of a slowing in the market in the
time I've been watching it."
Market researchers Mintel said that while the global
chocolate market value will be little changed on the year at
$84.5 billion in 2012, Western Europe's chocolate market value
is set to fall by around 5 percent.
"Chocolate usually does better than average fast moving
consumer goods because chocolate is the archetype of cheap
indulgence so it's the last thing people will drop," said
Jean-Jacques Vandenheede, European director for retail insights
at research firm Nielsen.
The firm recorded its first ever fall in volumes for the
fast moving consumer goods sector - made up of low value items
which sell quickly - in the second quarter of 2012 since it
began monitoring it in 2007.
"If the economic outlook continues to be as sombre as it is
now people are not going to rally, they are going to hunker down
even more, and spend even less on food, even on chocolate,"
The firm estimates Western Europe's chocolate market value
in 2012 will fall to around $30 billion, from $31.7 billion the
Europe and North America are the largest and most mature
chocolate markets, which prohibits growth to an extent.
"You have to bear in mind the market is pretty mature so
there's not much room for volume growth - regardless of the
economic environment - in most Western European countries," said
Lee Linthicum, global head of food research at Euromonitor
Portugal and Italy will see some of the sharpest falls in
market value in Western Europe for 2012. Mintel forecast, at
minus 11 percent and minus 7 percent respectively.
The world's largest chocolate products maker Barry Callebaut
has said that during the first nine months of its
fiscal year 2011/12, double-digit sales in the Americas, Asia
and eastern Europe helped offset still sluggish demand in
Mintel data showed the bright spots for growth were in
emerging markets in Asia including China, Indonesia and Vietnam,
but these countries were starting from a low base.
China's market value was expected to increase by 16 percent
in 2012 to $4.6 billion, while Vietnam was up 11 percent at $170
million and Indonesia was up 9 percent to $1.2 billion,
according to Mintel figures.
The slowdown in chocolate demand has filtered through to the
cocoa market, with cocoa futures on Liffe this week
falling to their lowest level since July 25.
European cocoa traders said slowing chocolate demand and
poor cocoa processing margins triggered the resale of cocoa
beans by major processors last month.
Europe's second-quarter cocoa grind, an indicator of cocoa
demand, recorded its sharpest quarterly fall of 17.8 percent
from the same period last year, Brussels-based European Cocoa
Association (ECA) data showed in July.
Third-quarter grinding data is due to be published by the ECA
on October 11 with expectations for further slippage as some
traders predicted a fall of up to 20 percent versus the same
period last year.
(Reporting by Sarah McFarlane; Editing by Veronica Brown and