Category spotlight: Online retailing drives global functional gummy market

A key upturn in gummy sales has been seen globally in the past year, with the market set to be worth $10.6 billion by 2025. But was this just a knee-jerk response to the Covid-19 pandemic or are functional sweets here to stay? Ross Carlin, MD of sector The Good Food Group explores their potential

With new entrants to the category appearing every quarter, gone are the days where products can rely simply on their supplement content – the modern consumer is taking a more holistic approach to their health and wellbeing, while also demanding a marketable, trendy brand that represents their wider views on matters such as sustainability, veganism and ethically sourced ingredients.

Food and drink consultancy, The Good Food Group, has supported gummy vitamin brands entering the market over the past 18 months and has witnessed first-hand how the category has taken over the supplement market, with the audience profile significantly changing as a result, from kid’s multivitamins to social media born gummy hair and beauty supplements.

Exploring the trend, Ross Carlin, managing director at The Good Food Group noted: “There’s no doubt that the impact of the pandemic affected the sales of every category, both positively and negatively, however, as consumers scrambled to find products that boost their immune systems, the vitamins and minerals category grew by 9.1% in 2020 – with the health and wellness market set to reach £25.7bn by 2024 (according to Mintel).

“The pandemic saw the nation become increasingly focused and concerned about their family’s health, consumers across the country stocked up on Vitamin D supplements in a bid to improve their health and reduce their chances of catching Covid-19 – allowing immunity-boosting products to skyrocket and spread across new formats, including chewable effervescent, gummies and liquids*.

“Originally formulated and marketed to improve kids’ health, the gummy vitamins category has now become dominated by adult-focused alternatives – with 64% of the market being made up by adult consumers. This is one of the fastest-growing areas within the category, increasing by 19.5% year-on-year – forging its place at the forefront of the market and signifying that the trend is indefinitely here to stay.”

Amid the backdrop of an uptake in the segment, consumers are increasingly demanding better tasting functional products that meet the taste expectations of younger generations.

As Confectionery Production recently reported, an increasing array of products in the sector is emerging, including a new sub-category developed by Rousselot and equipment firm Baker Perkins, that is set to grow the market further.

Carlin added: “Consumers are becoming more aware of where they can get their ‘daily dose’ from and the emerging of start-ups and challenger brands played a significant part in utilising this space to capture the attention of a new, younger and modern consumer.

“2020 saw a larger growth in branded products rather than own label, as shoppers sought out higher strength and more potent options, with the biggest opportunities being presented from flavours and formats within gummies and chewable product offerings. To come out on top, trusted brands and new entrants need to develop products that fit within consumers’ new vitamin choices, while also adapting their offering to more convenient, high-quality and affordable alternatives that still deliver on flavour and taste.

“Over the past few years, the category has continued to see new products move away from having one objective – to prevent consumers from getting sick. Instead, the market has witnessed a decline in tablets and capsules and an uplift in products that promote a more holistic healthy lifestyle such as energy boosts, sleeping aids and even hair and beauty products, which begs the question – will this approach to new product development remain? And how will they perform in a post-pandemic landscape? As consumer concerns over potential side effects of pharmaceutical drugs and medications grow, we believe shoppers will only continue to turn to these alternatives that they have come to enjoy and trust.”

Carlin noted that ecommerce and online shopping have certainly taken their place within the retail market and largely dominated 2020, but with the category being overtaken by digital sales it presents an interesting dynamic.

As a result, he explained that last month saw Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, trial its first physical and till-less grocery store after three years of extensive research – presenting the possibility that shoppers are looking to make the switch back from online to physical shopping or is this simply a trend, that following numerous lockdowns and lack of freedom, will die out post-covid?

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will undoubtedly continue to transform the way people shop, in both the retail and wider grocery industry. As shops reopen and people return to the high street, this can present a positive opportunity for health shops to maximise on mid-week impulse purchases. By introducing a wide range of products, that align with the latest consumer trends, gummy vitamins sales will continue to rise as consumers search for new, innovative and trustworthy products to promote their healthier lifestyle choices.”

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