«Sweets and joys»: packaging trends in the chocolate confectionery market in the UAE

In the dynamic and diverse market of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the chocolate confectionery industry stands out for its impressive growth and innovative approaches. 

New flavors, shared savings, and innovative packaging are gaining more popularity. But let’s first understand the market situation.

The market, which is projected to continue expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.81% from 2022 to 2028, is a testament to the changing tastes and preferences of consumers (Euromonitor). 

The chocolate confectionery market in the UAE is undergoing a dynamic change, especially in the packaging approach. This shift is driven by changing consumer preferences, technological advancements, and the growing importance of brand differentiation in a highly competitive market. 

Moreover, competition is quite fierce: there are many players in the market, but at the same time there is a major leader that has a solid gap in market share and volume compared to other players.

But there is no need to despair! We have analyzed the chocolate confectionery market and identified several key trends in packaging that will allow a brand to stand out among competitors and carve out a niche for itself in the market.

In 2023, the global per capita income of the chocolate confectionery market is estimated at USD 31.05, with an expected total revenue of USD 238.50 billion by the end of the year. Moreover, chocolate exports are projected to reach $384 million by 2026, showing a slight year-on-year growth and emphasizing the UAE’s significant role in the global chocolate industry (Statista).

Focus on premium packaging: There is a growing trend of premiumization chocolate packaging in the UAE market. Brands such as Galaxy, which uses luxurious brown and white colors, and Ferrero Rocher’s monochromatic palette with gold accents are leading this trend. This shift is consistent with consumers’ growing preference for high-end products, as seen in brands such as Lindt, which use minimalistic gift packaging to appeal to premium shoppers while targeting the consumer’s experience of buying and consuming chocolate rather than just flavor benefits.

Product Positioning Directions: Everyone has a territory: since the product is an impulse purchase, the manufacturer needs to evoke some kind of emotion in the consumer. First of all, brands play in the territory of pleasure, celebration, or a gift for a special event. But the new trend is the territory of «energy, efficient use of time», where sweetness acts as a «recharge».

Adaptability and versatility: Adaptability of packaging is becoming crucial, as seen in brands like Snickers, which, despite limited adaptability of packaging, emphasizes a rich color palette to ensure brand consistency. Similarly, Cadbury Dairy Milk uses different packaging styles depending on the type and size of the product, emphasizing the importance of flexibility in catering to different product ranges.

Sustainability: Although the UAE market has been slower to adopt sustainable packaging compared to European markets, there is growing brand awareness and potential to capitalize on this aspect. The current need for significant focus on eco-friendly packaging offers opportunities for brands to stand out and attract the attention of environmentally conscious consumers.

Consumer-centric design: Understanding consumer demographics is key in packaging design. For example, Kinder targets children with bright, cheery packaging, while Galaxy and Kit Kat offer different flavors and packaging options to cater to a broad consumer base. This trend emphasizes the importance of aligning packaging design with specific target audiences to increase appeal and drive sales. In brief, packaging should solve the consumer’s problem and align with the brand’s emotional message.

One important trend is the collaborative consumption economy. Due to external environmental factors, people are changing their consumption habits. And now there is a big focus on when everyone gets together, such as a big fun company, and shares food or sweets at one big table.

That is, people need to spend time together, and brands need to adapt their packaging so that it is convenient to share with a friend or bring chocolate to a large group.

Transition to e-commerce: With the growth of online shopping, packaging must also meet the logistical requirements of e-commerce. Strong, compact, and visually appealing packaging is critical to ensure the integrity and appeal of the product in the online marketplace.

In conclusion

The chocolate confectionery market in the UAE is a dynamic and evolving landscape, reflecting both global trends and local preferences. A growing shift towards premium packaging, innovative and adaptable designs, and increasing emphasis on sustainability are the key trends shaping the industry. Brands such as Galaxy, Ferrero Rocher, and Lindt are leading the premium segment, while M&M’s and KitKat are demonstrating innovative consumer engagement through packaging (according to Euromonitor and Statista analytics). 

Nevertheless, there remains significant potential for growth in sustainable packaging, allowing brands to stand out. Market dynamics indicate a steady trend towards high-quality products focused on meeting consumers’ needs for premium experiences and sustainable practices. 

At the same time, the market has a lot of potential for further development as some of the trends and niches we mentioned are just «gaining momentum». So go ahead and position your brand to reinvent yourself and stand out from the competition!