The UK has the largest chocolate consumption rate in Europe, with £3.7bn spent on chocolate in the UK in 2001.

Chocolate is the leading category in the UK confectionery market. According to research by Datamonitor, 660.9m kg of chocolate was consumed in Britain in 2001, up by 55m kg from the amount consumed in 1996. The amount of chocolate consumed in the UK accounted for 30% of the total European market in 2001.

The UK also has the largest sugar confectionery market in Europe, making up 23% of the total European market value in 2001. Within this sector, gums and jellies form the most popular sweet with the rise of pick and mix shops in leisure complexes such as cinemas, bowling alleys and shopping malls contributing to this. Hard-boiled sweets are the second most popular sugar confectionery product purchased by UK consumers.

Chewing gum consumption has also increased in the UK, with 19.6m kg consumed in 2001. The biggest growth has been in the sugar-free gum sector, helped by the promotion of chewing gum as part of the total dental care package. Innovative products such as tooth-whitening chewing gum and varieties of gum that release menthol vapours have recently been released onto the market.

Bubble gum meanwhile has been experiencing a slow decline. It makes up only 2m kg of the total 19.6m kg of gum sold in the UK in 2001 and is not predicted to experience any increase in the amount sold over the next five years.

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Lawrence Gould, Datamonitor consumer markets analyst commented: “Bubble gum has been largely relegated to the novelty products niche. Temporary surges in sales can be attributed to marketing agreements on the back of children’s crazes such as the recent Pokémon phenomenon, but these are short-lived. In the longer term, no significant growth can be expected from this segment.”