State of Treating Report reveals US confectionery sales of $42.6 billion

The president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, John Downs, offered an inspiring keynote address to launch this year’s State of the Industry Conference, as figures reveal the category topped $42.6 billion in sales last year, reports Neill Barston.

As he donned a striking NASA jacket and aviator shades, the organisation’s chief told the event’s audience of around 700 sector leaders, that the industry had ‘achieved its moonshot’ with its core Always a Treat campaign on responsible product enjoyment.

He offered an upbeat assessment of the US sweets and snacks market, which grew a notable 11.% over 2021, and 22.1% over 2019, which was underlined by its latest analysis that revealed 81% of consumers viewed chocolate as a fun part of life. (See our exclusive video review of the event here).

This was underpinned by a further results showing 74% of survey respondents in the fourth State of Treating Report viewed buying confectionery as being an affordable treat, which they still enjoyed indulging in, despite inflation running at a 40-year high. While revenues encouragingly up, product volumes had been impacted over the past year within the chocolate category (down by 4%, while sales increased by 9.1 per cent).

Significantly, according to the NCA’s projections, the market is anticipated to rise still further over the next five years, to a value of $54.3 billion by 2027, even accounting for a number of present challenges including supply chain issues that have tested markets around the world.

Confectionery Production is again reporting live from the key US event in Aventura, Miami, Florida this week, which is addressing a number of core topics for the industry.

Among the core topics covered include panel discussion on how companies are responding to supply chain topics including inflation, and increased operating costs amid inflation pressures, and the drive for a greater range of product options including within the better-for-you category.

“With high marks for favourability and permissibility, along with the majority of consumers agreeing that confectionery is an affordable treat, chocolate and candy sales grew despite economic pressures. Consumers continue to treat with chocolate and candy to enhance their emotional well-being, celebrate holidays and enjoy everyday moments,” noted Downs, as the organisation laid out its findings from its latest annual report.

In his opening remarks, he added that there would be no industry challenge that would go unanswered, and struck a decisive tone of highlighting the overall strength of the sector in terms of its thought leadership, and response to market conditions.

In his reflection on the state of the sector, Downs expanded on the industry’s mission – which he likened to being on a journey of exploration in the spirit of NASA pioneers that resulted in the country’s success in with the Moon landings, which he said had required a sense of belief in your capabilities – a quality that he felt he would most definitely pack were he on his own long-range space mission.

“Diversity is our strength, but unity is where we get our power – and this industry understands the power of many, unlike any other industry that I have encountered in my entire professional career. I tell people, one team, one team, all working together.

“And we are unified and inspired as one team and one dream, because we are aligned on our mission and our purpose, we have a bold inspirational vision, and we have the right discipline against the strategic objectors that matter most to your businesses,” he explained, revealing that the industry remains committed to its core focus on permissible indulgence, and forging a strong working relationship with the retail sector that remains critical to the industry’s continued growth.

State of Treating Report

In terms of the State of Treating report itself, it has continued to prove especially influential as a source of category  performance data and offers a deep understanding of ever-evolving consumer attitudes and behaviours.

Following the CEO’s address, Elise Fennig, the NCA’s chief of staff and SVP of operations, offered key insights from its latest core study.

She noted that key findings from the report include that 79% of consumers agree that physical health and emotional well-being are interconnected, and 86% agree that it is fine to occasionally treat yourself with chocolate and candy.

Furthermore 78% believe confectionery sharing and gifting are great traditions. Consequently, consumers buy confectionery in three to four different retail channels, led by supercenters and supermarkets.

In addition, 61% of shoppers look for confectionery products they have never purchased before; innovation is important. Linked to this, 59% of candy consumers have searched Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for confectionery-related content.

Transparency is the currency of trust; 43% of consumers prefer to learn about a brand’s ESG efforts from the package label. As the NCA noted, the report is intended to provide a deeper understanding of consumer wants and needs, corresponding shifts in the retail landscape and opportunities for the future to support continued category growth.

Among the major findings discussed by Fennig was the balance of retailing – noting that while there are now significant e-commerce opportunities across the confectionery market, consumers are still drawn to traditional means of shopping.

While we inhabit a digitally-led age, the report’s latest findings in fact revealed that 54% of US shoppers would in fact still prefer to buy their sweets and candy in a physical store. However, as the presentation this morning revealed, the most critical factor for success for retailers – who endured a particularly challenging couple of years amid the pandemic, was in terms of delivering a ‘wow moment’ for customers to encourage purchasing with imaginative point of sale material, and welcoming, dynamic  environments to maximise potential revenues.




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