WASHINGTON -- Despite several weather challenges, shorter seasons and the continued quest for value among shoppers, 2013 was a "comeback year" for the confectionery industry. The National Confectioners Association has released an in-depth confectionery performance review that found many improved key metrics, including sales, trips, buyers and per capita consumption, in addition to a strong execution of the four big seasons: Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and the end-of-year holidays.
"In 2013, business was big, growing and profitable," said Larry Wilson, NCA's vice president of customer relations. "The total confectionery market reached $33.6 billion in 2013--marking the sixth consecutive year of sales growth. Chocolate is the biggest segment and grew the fastest at 3.6% versus 2012. Additionally, the outlook for 2014 and beyond is very positive, with accelerated growth for the chocolate and gum segments."
Additional findings from the review include:
- Sales per capita improved 3.9% over 2011 to $106.19.
- Seasonal performance was strong with an overall growth of 3.2% for candy. Halloween, the largest season, grew the fastest at 5.2%, followed by Easter and the end-of-year holidays.
- Chocolate indulgence was a winner, with white chocolate up 14%, followed by dark at 9%. Milk chocolate remains the largest segment and grew $409 million in 2013. Chocolate combined with fruits and nuts is popular as well. Chocolate products containing almonds and hazelnuts, for example, grew 16% versus year ago.
- Confections won more trips and gains were achieved across channels to include grocery, dollar and club. These channels also increased the number of buyers last year by more than one million people.
- Grocery, which is the largest segment for confections, also grew the fastest with an increase of 3.2% versus year ago.
- Shoppers purchase confections across many different channels ranging from their primary grocery store to vending machines and online; 24% of shoppers at least sometimes buy confections online, predominantly specialty candies they cannot find in stores.
- Brand and mood lead the confections purchase decision tree, making variety (including new item introductions) and regionality very important to growing sales. In 2013, retailers added some seven new items across channels that generated $890 million in new item sales.
"We predict continued growth for 2014," said Wilson. "A longer Easter period and Halloween falling on a Friday this year signal an encouraging seasonal sales outlook. While the environment remains complex, the market holds many opportunities, including health and wellness."
He continued, "The confectionery industry understands that as we grow, so does our responsibility to educate consumers on how candy fits into a healthy lifestyle. By introducing front-of-package labeling, marketing responsibly where children are concerned and offering portion-controlled products, we are reminding shoppers what they already know: confections are a little indulgence that can very much be a part of a healthy lifestyle."