2016 Candy Trends: Growth Areas

With more consumers attuned to health and wellness and the FDA considering an added sugar line on the nutrition facts label, it would be easy to assume that the candy industry must be struggling. Fortunately for confectioners, the numbers don’t bear that out. Data shows that sales of candy have grown at least 34 percent since 2007, resulting in an industry with annual sales of over $6.1 billion. Despite consumer health awareness, candy is going strong. This growth is attributable to three factors, each of which is crucial for modern confectioners to understand.

1. Impulse purchases

Half of consumers told researchers that they did not plan to purchase candy products, but did so anyway, while 39 percent buy candy to treat themselves. Of course, confectioners have been aware of the importance of impulse purchases for their industry for a long time—that’s why the racks near the checkout lane remain some of the most competitive shelf space in the store.

However, what we may not have realized is the degree to which this pattern of consumer behavior shields the industry from downsizing related to health concerns. Impulse purchases, after all, are by definition made without full thought and reflection—they reflect the very basic human desire for indulgence and sensory pleasure more than the more reflective behaviors that are typically associated with health. As long as confectioners possess outlets for tempting consumers to make an impulse buy, health concerns are unlikely to undermine sales.

2. Natural ingredients

Consumers exhibit strong interest in candy made with natural ingredients. When asked what ingredients they consider on the label in buying confectionery, the most important considerations were tied to natural ingredients: 23 percent said they look for natural ingredients, while 24 percent seek natural fruit juice, and 16 percent look for real fruit pieces. Consumers value these ingredients for their fresh, natural, and complex flavors as well as their sense of healthfulness. As the food industry as a whole turns away from synthetic ingredients, natural ingredients—and a natural brand position—will be essential for confectionery brands.

3. Product innovations

According to Experian Simmons, product innovation is the primary driver of growth in the candy industry, especially innovations that allow for affordable indulgence. Small format chocolates are doing particularly well, with flavor innovations helping the category to grow by over a third since 2006, to reach more than $3.4 billion. According to research, 59 percent of consumers enjoy trying new flavors, while 43 percent enjoy new textures, suggesting that consumers are very willing to be adventurous where candy is concerned. These figures, combined with the above points on natural ingredients, should suggest a clear path of action for confectionery brands: aggressively pursue innovation in format and flavor, as long as that innovation falls in line with consumer interest in natural products.

As makers of the ingredients that intrigue consumers, Parker Products has much to offer brands seeking natural product innovation. Our creative R&D staff can help you create exciting new products using all-natural ingredients like our agave-glazed quinoa, a puffed inclusion that contributes great flavor and consumer interest to confectionery. Get in touch today for formulation assistance or to discover the new flavors and textures we provide to help you intrigue consumers and build your brand.