From consumers’ growing knowledge about product ingredients, the “clean snacking” mindset has emerged. Clean snacking is a balanced approach to nutrition that explores realistic options rather than a more dogmatic philosophy that forbids snacks or sweets altogether, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in last year’s “Chocolate Candy in the U.S., 11th Edition” report.
Many burgeoning areas in the candy industry show the effect of the clean snacking philosophy. This includes bite-size snacking chocolate in thins and barks, fruit and chocolate snacks, high cacao dark chocolate, and the many new clean-label products.
“The clean snacking consumer will eat sweet snacks but looks carefully at the type of sweetener, origin of ingredients and presence of additives, and then optimizes among the available choices. Ongoing research on the many health benefits of dark chocolate opened the floodgates of clean snackers who can enjoy dark chocolate as a health food,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts.
With consumers seemingly becoming more health conscious by the minute, many foods and beverages popular in the past now are vilified for their lack of nutrition, overly processed formulations and questionable additives, says Packaged Facts. The high sugar content of candy would seemingly make these products inherently maligned, but many candy manufacturers have acknowledged the shift in consumer attitudes about production processes and candy ingredients and are evolving to ensure that products are in tune with consumers’ preferences. Over the past two years, Nestlé has committed to removing artificial flavors and FDA-certified colors from its chocolate candy products; Hershey announced a new commitment to simple ingredients, transparency and responsible ingredient sourcing; and Mars has mapped out a five year plan to find natural flavors that meet safety and taste criteria as it commits to removing artificial flavors from the human food products in its product portfolio.
Looking ahead to the 2020 candy market
All this effort to satisfy consumer demands will help the U.S. confectionery market rebound after slightly sluggish sales in 2016. By 2020, Packaged Facts expects sales of confectionery products in the U.S. to exceed $41 billion for the first time. Chocolate candy is forecast to account for 60 percent of the confectionery market’s sales in 2020.
Packaged Facts also points out that the U.S. confectionery market is dynamic, with a strong pace of innovation, an influx of creative new players and a steady flow of new products that engage consumers. In addition, there remains consumer devotion to confectionery products, and the growing perception of the product as an accessible luxury creates many opportunities to trade the consumer up to premium products. These factors are positives to future sales growth.
Despite the projected boon, the industry still faces challenges. These include public concern about the cocoa farming process, the supply of cocoa and other ingredients, which affects prices; changes in consumer demands for indulgent snacks; and shifts in shopping behavior such as self-checkout and online purchasing, which could decrease impulse purchases. But according to Sprinkle, the industry overall is poised for continued growth based on the ingrained desire for accessible indulgences that confectionery products provide.
Chocolate Candy in the U.S., 11th Edition segments and quantifies the market by channel and product type, providing historical sales figures and forecasts through 2020. The report examines market size, drivers and trends, retail sales-tracking data from IRI and SPINSscan, new product trends, and national consumer survey data, both from an analysis of Simmons data as well as the proprietary Packaged Facts Chocolate Usage Survey. The report also maps out the competitive situation at the marketer and brand levels, with profiles of Hershey, Mars, Russell Stover, Nestle, Lindt and others.