Special focus: The US confectionery market continues to drive global growth patterns
The US confectionery market experienced a surge in sales last year, while bright branding, health and wellness, and affordable indulgence continue to drive NPD in 2023. Daisy Phillipson reports
The US remains the world’s largest confectionery market, with strong sales over the past twelve months showing Americans still love their sweet treats. According to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) 2023 State of Treating report, despite supply chain disruption, 40-year-high inflation and lingering issues from the global pandemic, candy and chocolate sales accelerated significantly in 2022.
The report cites statistics from market research firm Euromonitor that state confectionery sales in the US reached $42.6 billion in 2022, and are expected to exceed $54 billion by 2027. This is a sharp increase from the $36.9 billion made the year prior, with confectionery category dollar sales growing 11.1% over 2021, and 22.1% over 2019. As noted by John Downs, the NCA’s president and CEO: “During this economic uncertainty, consumers are looking for small ways to bring a little sweetness to their lives and the lives of those around them.
As a transparent, trusted and affordable treat, chocolate and candy can fill this unique need.” Another finding highlighted in the report is that 78 per cent of consumers agree chocolate and candy make them feel happy, while 79 per cent agree positive emotions and physical health are linked.
Concurrently, consumers are aware that confectionery is still considered to be a treat, while nine out of ten participants are interested in nutritional information. Bright branding While there are many takeaways from the State of Treating round-up, a significant message is that the US confectionery sector is looking sweet, with consumer interests driving creative NPD over the past year. Alongside the product itself, many brands are experimenting with innovative new packaging designs.
The fruity flavours of Jolly Rancher Gummies were recently paired with a vibrant fresh look thanks to new limited-edition packaging featuring designs from boundary-breaking street artists, including Danielle Mastrion from New York, Joe Starkweather from Miami and Evan Farrell (KidWiseman) from Los Angeles. Building on the brand’s continued appreciation for street art, the new designs update the aesthetic in bold, eye-catching and colourful ways.
Elsewhere, distributor Nassau Candy knows the power of aesthetics, often highlighting how candies that offer a visual eating experience can help TikTok users to go viral and gain followings fast. Its recently released Clever Candy Everyday Packaged Line features peg bags of Clever Candy’s well established bulk gummies that are geared towards the super-visual ‘Generation Alpha’. Among the range are 12 gummy varieties such as Snappy Sharks and Sour Cherry Cola Bottles, all available in four-ounce bags.
We’ve also seen plenty of brand team-ups in recent months, a notable entry being Jelly Belly Candy Company’s partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to add five new additions to its collection of Harry Potter-inspired candies in the US. The new products include the firm’s first-ever Butterbeer-inspired chewy candies and milk chocolate bars available in creative packaging ranging from festive barrel tins to glass mugs. There’s also the Harry Potter House Points Counter Dispenser, featuring different flavours representing the four Hogwarts Houses: Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.
Health is wealth
The health movement is also driving NPD, with numerous functional, reduced-sugar and vegan options hitting the shelves. The Hershey Company recently announced two options with milk chocolate alternatives with the nationwide launch of Hershey’s Plant Based and the new addition of Reese’s Plant Based. “We are excited to introduce these delicious, plant-based options,” said Teal Liu, Brand Manager of Better For You, The Hershey Company. “Our purpose is to create more moments of goodness for consumers.
Those moments are now more accessible for chocolate lovers looking for plant-based alternatives.” Chocxo, meanwhile, is dedicated to delivering lower sugar, organic sweet treats that still offer moments of indulgence. At the Natural Products Expo West Show 2023, the chocolatier debuted its new Dark The Jelly Belly bean collection continues to expand. Pic: Jelly Belly Chocolate Coconut Cups, featuring organic coconut that is mixed with a slightly sweet white chocolate before being encased in an 85% cacao organic dark chocolate shell.
As with Chocxo’s entire range, the new product is made with sustainably-sourced cocoa beans, while only a small amount of organic cane sugar is needed, without any artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. One cup has 80 calories, 3g of sugar and is organic, nonGMO, gluten-free, keto-certified and kosher. In the context of fortified confectionery, demand has been growing for The Functional Chocolate Company’s product range, which offers naturally vegan and gluten-free decadent dark chocolate paired with nutraceuticals such as vitamins, minerals, botanicals and amino acids. Each bar within its product line offers a unique function, from helping to soothe stress or promoting better sleep to addressing pain or boosting libido.
Alongside established confectionery brands, numerous health and wellness companies are entering the US snacks market, including health supplements business Bloom Nutrition. The firm recently announced the launch of its limited-edition Bloom Protein Bars, marking the brand’s official expansion into the food and snacking category. Made with Bloom’s Whey Isolate Protein, the bars are available in four flavours comprising Blueberry Crumble, Raspberry Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Chocolate and Cookies & Cream. Each bar is under 200 calories and packed with 15 grams of protein, while only containing two grams of sugar per serving. Alongside personal health and wellbeing, social causes are high on the agenda in the US confectionery market, with consumers seeking food options that reflect their morals and values.
The NCA’s John Downs previously commented: “We are committed to spreading the word about our sector’s dedication to responsible sourcing of ingredients, fair treatment of workers, and commitment to giving back to communities throughout the country.