CHICAGO -- Gummy and nonchocolate chewy candy have been enjoying widespread new-product innovation, due no doubt to the evolving preferences and palates of younger generations. The effect is in the numbers: Nonchocolate chewy candy has risen 10% since January 2017. But other, traditionally stable subcategories saw a bit of a dip, with standard-size chocolate bars falling 4.3% and bars 3.5 ounces or greater down 1.2%.
Despite flat or declining sales, opportunities exist in the candy category. Manufacturers are working to diversify confectionery offerings with new products that feature organic herbal fillings, exotic flavors and functional ingredients. The trend behind better-for-you and natural products isn’t turning consumers off sweets; rather, they are on the hunt for better-for-you options and “clean eating,” even in candy.
“I anticipate an increasing number of items and trends coming into convenience from the natural trade channel,” says Kristen Hamby, category manager of grocery and snacks for McLane.
Novelty nonchocolate candy also saw an impressive jump of 24.8%, due in part to a rise in gifting confection, which is growing across channels. Major c-store retailers have taken notice and are working to capitalize on this growing trend.
“At RaceTrac, you’ll see an endcap with extensive signage dedicated to bringing attention to our seasonal offers,” Hilary Freeman, senior category manager of confection for Atlanta-based RaceTrac, told CSP at the beginning of the year. “Seasonal moments in time, like the winter holidays, are a huge opportunity for convenience,” she said. “We will continue to focus on the ‘heavy hitter’ seasonal SKUs in the c-store space during those times, while also pulsing in seasonal offerings from new vendors and other innovative seasonal products.”
* Percent change from a year ago
** Products were isolated by McLane as top consumer velocity items in the six months ending June 30, 2017