A. Elizabeth Sloan

Candy is going to have a dandy few years. When economic worries worsen and stress levels rise, consumers have traditionally turned to candy and high-end confections as an affordable—and impulsive—treat.

The confectionery market enjoys some additional advantages. The number of children under age 12 is expected to grow dramatically through 2015. Moreover, 72 million snack-focused Gen Y young adults—the heaviest adult candy eaters—are now entering the workforce and will have more discretionary income than they had in their teens. Lastly, the ability of candy and gum to deliver a wide range of functional health and lifestyle benefits—from teeth whitening to a quick energy boost—is grabbing mainstream attention.

The U.S. confectionery market was estimated at $29.4 billion across all channels in 2007 by Euromonitor and projected to grow 19% in the next five years. According to the National Confectioners Assn., gum and chocolate candy are driving industry growth. Sales of sugar-free gum jumped 13.5% in 2007; gum overall was up 8.1%.

According to Mintel’s Sugar Confectionery—U.S., a June 2007 report, those ages 18–24 are signifi cantly more likely to choose a milk chocolate bar when craving something sweet (71% vs an average of 58% among all adults). They are also the No. 1 purchaser of specialty/gourmet chocolates, states Mintel’s Specialty Foods—U.S., a May 2008 report.

In addition, 18- to 24-year-olds are the No. 1 consumers of non-chocolate candy, e.g., fruity hard candy, gummies, chewy candy, jelly beans, and licorice (40% vs 26% for all adults). They’re also the most likely to chew gum (78% vs 58% of all adults), per Mintel’s Gum, Mints, and Breath Fresheners—U.S., a May 2008 report.

Artisan and hand-crafted confections continue to turn in explosive sales. High-end fudge is a fast-emerging trend. Signature Chocolates by Rena is among the new collections marrying chocolate and wine.

Nostalgia remains a potent candy driver. Jelly Belly introduced its Ice Cream Parlor Mix with Cold Stone Creamery flavors such as Apple Pie a la Cold. The new Russell Stover® American Classics™ line includes a Mississippi Mud Truffle.

For some sensory sizzle, Pop Rocks Two-Piece Mega Bar marries milk chocolate with a pleasant popping sensation. New liquid center technology is behind Chuao Chocolatiers ChocoPods Firecrackers that feature a dark chocolate shell filled with chipotle chile and a liquid “tongue-bursting” center.

Sour flavors such as Ferrero USA’s Tic Tac Bold! Apple Sour breath mints and superfruit flavors are coming on strong. Innova Market Insights reports that globally, candy marketers are using floral flavors such as rose and violet to attract female snackers. Emerging chewing gum flavors include fruit and mint combinations, green tea, blueberry, tangerine, lychee, and caramel apple. Also new are cocktail-flavored gums, such as Orbit Sangria Fresca or Trident White Cool Colada.

Of course, it is true innovation that energizes the candy market. For example, Squire Boone Village created LolliStraws drinking straws made of candy that also impart flavor to drinks.

And although it may seem like an oxymoron to some, “healthful candy” is playing a greater role in the marketplace with product attributes that include organic, all-natural, sugar-free, fortified, high-antioxidant, and unique functional benefits.

Figamajig’s all-natural fig candy bars are low-fat, high in antioxidants, high in fiber, and contain no gluten, trans fat, or high fructose corn syrup. Herbal candies such as Ricola Swiss Herb Candy or Sucret’s Herbal are helping to boost immunity and calm sore throat pain. Wrigley’s Eclipse gum includes magnolia bark extract to kill germs that cause bad breath. Sales of whitening gums jumped 18.6% in 2007. Trident Xtra Care strengthens your teeth thanks to its milk-derived Recaldent ingredient.

Mars’ Snickers Charged provides a boost of energy with added caffeine, taurine, and B vitamins and delivers a satiating quality. Loud Truck Energy Gummies contain guarana extract and vitamins C and B-12.

Beauty gums with ingredients such as aloe vera, collagen, co-enzyme Q10, and ceramide are taking the market in another intriguing direction. With a strong scientific base supporting a role for chewing gum in stimulating mental function and concentration and imparting a feeling of satiety, it’s not surprising that weight loss gums that aid metabolism and suppress appetite are appearing on the global market. Fennobon of Finland launched the first cholesterol-lowering gum with phytosterols. Japan’s Lotte Group’s Relax gum is formulated to deliver the benefit its name describes.

by A. Elizabeth Sloan,
Contributing Editor
President, Sloan Trends, Inc., Escondido, Calif.
[email protected]