The cocoa grind, an indicator of demand for chocolate in the region, amounted to 125,887 metric tons (MT), 6,865 MT more than the same period last year, during a time when premium, seasonal and everyday chocolate all experienced sales growth.
Other categories such as cereal, snack bars and chocolate-based spreads also contributed to the rise.
The figures were supplied by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), which collects data from firms in Canada, Mexico and the US, including Barry Callebaut, Mars, Hershey, Blommer Chocolate and Nestlé.
US chocolate: room for growth
Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight for Mintel Food and Drink, told this site: “The latest cocoa grind figures show that there is still growth in the US chocolate market. Compared to the poor showing from Europe the US desire for cocoa-based products continues to increase.”
The European Q1 cocoa grind, published on Wednesday, showed a 3.9% decline on last year as the debt crisis hampered chocolate demand in struggling economies.
According to Mintel data, sales of chocolate confectionery grew 3% between 2011 and 2012 in food, drug and mass channels.
“Consumers in the US continue to enjoy chocolate - sales increased in all and manufacturers have been introducing products packaged to suit a variety of budgets and demands,” said Mongelonsky.
“There is also a growing love of chocolate in categories beyond confectionery that has helped drive demand for cocoa,” she added.
Chocolate is becoming increasing popular in other categories, particularly in cereal through brands like Chocolate Cheerios, said the analyst.
Cocoa grind stats from Asia are expected in the coming days and analysts are anticipating a marked increase as the region ups its chocolate consumption.