This article is part of our Hot Beverages Digital Feature.

Lower branded prices have helped make drinking chocolate one of hot beverages’ hottest sectors in the past year, according to IRI and Kantar sales figures. 

Hard promotional tactics from brands has forced average branded price down 4.9% [Kantar 52 w/e 19 July 2015]. The lower prices have helped eight of the 10 biggest sellers gain volumes. 

However, only six have risen value sales. Of those to lose out, Cadbury suffered the biggest loss, of £3.2m. Options lost £0.2m [IRI 52 w/e 20 June 2015].

The latter bulked up its promotions from 282 to 346 as the number of promotions across hot chocolate increased to 1,168 compared with 978 the year before [Brand View].

  £m y-o-y% kg (m) y-o-y %
Cadbury £49.3 -6.1 6.6 0.5
Options £12.8 -1.8 0.9 3.0
Nestlé £8.0 26.0 0.7 28
Galaxy £7.0 2.4 0.9 3.0
Tassimo £6.3 88.4 0.6 55.6
IRI: 52 w/e 20 June 2015

However, the biggest gain was secured by Tassimo, which added a cool £3m to its sales thanks to partnerships with Cadbury, Oreos, Milka and Sucha, which delivered true chocolate credentials to consumers.

The non-pod players aren’t resting on their laurels, though. Alongside heavy promotions, they are fighting hard with a range of luxurious NPD. Galaxy, for example, has recently added two new additions to its Ultimate Hot Chocolate range in marshmallow and white chocolate variants.

“Innovation and variety are proven factors in maximising hot chocolate sales and driving growth across the category,” says Michelle Frost, general manager for Mars chocolate drinks and treats.

Sweet Freedom, meanwhile, is hoping to improve on its 79.7% increase in value with two new variants – Choc Shot Orange Spice and Choc Shot Coconut.

Following its launch 18 months ago, Sweet Freedom describes Choc Shot as a “runaway success”, having gained listings in the big four, plus The Co-op and Waitrose. It has the added bonus of only containing 14 calories per teaspoon and being gluten and dairy-free.

“Our customers love chocolate, enjoy eating healthily and adore the versatility of liquid chocolate,” says Tina Michelucci, co-founder of Choc Shot. “Expanding the range of Choc Shot flavours was a natural progression for us and our latest Orange Spice (with cardamom) and Coconut versions were decided on, not just by us, but based on thousands of email requests from our customers.”

Elsewhere, Twinings Ovaltine built on the distribution for its Options Just Add Milk range with After Dinner Mint and Belgian Chocolate, while it prepares to promote Options Salted Caramel from a sachet to a full-sized jar format later this year.

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