Chocolate makers prepare for V-Day

Chocolatiers are hoping last-minute purchases boost sales for Valentine’s Day on Thursday.

The Sweetest Little Chocolate Shop founder Stu Jordan told FIW the special day on February 14 usually meant sales of more than 12 times the volume of usual trading.

“Valentine’s Day is a short sharp spike but it’s the best period,” he says. Online sales have been stronger this year, suggesting a stronger outlook, but this is hard to tell.

“We can’t pick it. Christmas was very strong – we’re hoping that optimism carries through until Valentine’s. We’ve made enough product for a big one.”

The Sweetest Little Chocolate Shop has created new varieties such as a passionfruit marshmallow heart this year, ensuring 40% of its product range has changed.

Devonport Chocolates owner Stephanie Everipp says trading conditions are tough and it is difficult to know what volumes will shift as the spike was usually last minute. 

“It’s been harder in the past six months than the rest of the recession. I’ve gathered from the Retailers’ Association that that is the trend.”

However, she is confident that Lent starting the day before Valentine’s Day will not compromise sales. “People can choose what they give up for Lent. It’s not necessarily chocolate.” 

Both chocolate-makers are confident boutique sellers have the edge over branded boxed chocolates.

“It’s a quality thing. When you compare the price of good quality hand-made chocolate, the chocolate stands up very well,” Ms Everipp says.

Mr Jordan agrees, saying women have higher expectations. “For Valentine’s, guys like to spend a bit more. If they turn up with the box of Cadbury’s, they’ll get shot.”  

According to Statistics NZ, boxed chocolates reach a price peak in July last year of $9.59. The more recent Food Price Index recorded an average price for boxed chocolates at $7.59.

It expects boxed chocolates sold in supermarkets, such as Cadbury and Lindt, will be discounted during Valentines.

“The general trend is that prices tend to be low in December months, come off special in January and are discounted again in February,” a spokeswoman says.

Valentine’s Day is a day of love but it is also a time for chocolate, which is also experiencing a medical renaissance of late.

Over recent years numerous medical studies have demonstrated that people who eat chocolate regularly experience health benefits. When given the choice, dark chocolate always comes out on top.

Not only is it a more potent source of antioxidants, it is lower in calories, has a more favourable glycemic index and is higher in fibre.

Although a healthy treat, chocolate still contains a fair amount of fat and sugar. A single serving also has a little caffeine, about 5%-10% that in a cup of drip coffee.

Five reasons to take a bite of chocolate:
1. Chocolate can make you a genius

A recent study demonstrated that countries whose populations ate more chocolate produced the most Nobel Prize winners. The researchers hypothesised that the beneficial effects of chocolate on brain function may explain this thoughtful observation.

2. Chocolate can help you do better math
A UK medical study revealed that students who regularly eat chocolate can subtract better than those who do not. Not only can chocolate help you balance your accounts but it will make you a hero to your kids when they need help with math homework.

3. Chocolate boosts your heart health
Several studies published over the past few years have demonstrated heart benefits. In the first, men surveyed who ate chocolate on a regular basis reduced their risk of a stroke by 20%. An Australian study revealed that men who ate chocolate on a regular basis (and a fair amount at that, about 3.5 ounces a day) had a decreased risk of heart attack. Another large medical review showed regular “users” of dark chocolate had less hypertension. In all cases, the benefits were most likely the result of the powerful antioxidants in the cocoa bean.

4. Chocolate is for happy babies
A Finnish study showed that mothers who ate chocolate on a daily basis while pregnant had babies who were less fussy, more likely to smile and laugh, and were just plain happier. Happy moms mean happy babies.

5. Chocolate is your perfect match
The melting temperature of chocolate is the same as the human body temperature. Coincidence? We think not. And just think of how happy you feel when you and chocolate have a delicious date.

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