WASHINGTON -- The average U.S. consumer is expected to spend about $162 for Valentine’s Day this year—a 13% increase from 2018, according to the National Retail Foundation. Moreover, about 80% of U.S. consumers said they plan to share chocolate and candy with loved ones for this year’s holiday, according to a new survey from the National Confectioners Association (NCA). Overall, candy sales for Feb. 14 are expected to hit $1.8 billion, according to Candystore.com.
- Click here to see new convenience-store chocolate offerings for Valentine's Day.
"We know that most Americans enjoy chocolate and candy two to three times per week, including at special candy moments like Valentine's Day," said John Downs, president and CEO of the NCA. "The gift-giving tradition spans generations and is a highlight of the holiday. But we know that people are also interested in understanding how they can make informed choices about the treats they enjoy at the holiday and throughout the year."
The NCA has collaborated with the Partnership for a Healthier America to launch Valentine’s Day Central, a new digital resource for consumers and association members that focuses on balanced and mindful candy consumption. Topics include the history of Valentine’s Day, a look inside the ingredients of chocolate candies and candy storage tips.
"We are so proud of our industry's efforts to support consumers as they enjoy their favorite treats," said Downs. "We work hard to ensure that everyone can feel good about sharing chocolate and candy with the special people in their lives, helping to make Valentine's Day a fun holiday for all."
The NCA, based in Washington D.C., serves as the primary voice for the chocolate, cocoa, nonchocolate and gum industries in the United States. The trade organization hosts the American confectionery industry's largest trade show, the Sweets & Snacks Expo; conducts both scientific and shopper research; and has a well-established international marketing program for U.S.-made products.
CHICAGO -- Gone are the days of breakfast, lunch and dinner being consumers’ only meals of the day. People are increasingly snacking to cure their hunger, and they don’t seem to be stopping. More than half of consumers (55%) snack between meals at least twice a day—a 5% increase compared to two years ago, according to the 2018 Snacking Consumer Trend Report by CSP sister research firm Technomic. This year brought an onslaught of new snack and candy trends to retailers, some that may continue drawing customers down treat aisles in 2019.
Here are five snack and candy trends that could set the stage for next year …
Private-label snacks have already emerged in large c-store chains, giving these brands an opportunity to compete with their counterparts.
In March 2018, 7-Eleven expanded its line of packaged bakery items with the 7-Select private-label sweet bread. The bread, which was available for a limited time only, came in three varieties: Panquecitos, miniature vanilla loaf cakes; Roles de Canela, cinnamon rolls with raisins; and Panque con Nuez, sliced pound cake with chopped pecans.
Six months later, Yesway launched its newest private-label products, Yesway Candy and Yesway Baked Goods, in Yesway c-stores nationwide. Yesway Candy features loose-bag candies such as Mini Sour Gummi Worms and Gummi Bears, while Yesway Baked Goods features Powdered Donut Holes, Blueberry Muffins and fried pies.
Tortilla chips are dominating c-store salty snacks. The category garnered more than $1 billion in sales—good for a 10.8% increase compared to 2017—making up a fifth of the entire salty snack segment, according to data from Chicago-based research firm IRI. Cheese snacks were the only snack segment to come close to tortilla chips in terms of growth, yet the category still fell behind by more than 3%.
Popular tortilla chip brands this year included Doritos’ Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy (up 875% from 2017), Paqui (up 163%), Barcel Takis (up 63%), El Sabroso Guacachips (up 23%) and El Sabroso Salsitas (up 20%). Highlighting these brands, as well as other tortilla chip labels, may spark the snacking category altogether.
Between January and October 2017, cannabidiol, or CBD, candies accounted for nearly 11% of the total candy market in Colorado, Washington and Oregon, according to Boulder, Colo.-based research firm BDS Analytics. Moreover, CBD candy grew by nearly 170% in 2017, compared to 51% for candy overall.
CBD operators are channeling consumers’ interests in cannabis by infusing various candies with CBD, which doesn't contain the psychoactive element tetrahydrocannabino (THC). CBD products entering the c-store market include Hemptail, a flavored malt beverage made with Hemp; Instant CBD strips; and CBD Lollipops.
The U.S. chocolate market is expected to reach about $23 billion in total retail sales by the end of 2018, according to research firm Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md., and it doesn't appear to be slowing down. This is partially due to the emergence of premium chocolate—products that sway from traditional chocolate bars, the research firm said.
New premium chocolate products have emerged in c-stores this year, such as Mars Wrigley Confectionery's new line of chocolate-covered nuts for its Dove brand or the Hershey Co.’s Dipped Pretzels line, which debuted at the recent 2018 NACS Show. More recently, Mars Wrigley rebranded its American Heritage Chocolate (AHC) products, such as a Gourmet Hot Cocoa, Finely Grated Chocolate, Tablet Bars and Tasting Squares.
Nonchocolate candies such as sour worms, jelly beans and gummy bears are surging. Packaged Facts foresees total retail dollar sales of the sector hitting $11 billion by the end of the year, with sales having increased 3% from 2013 to 2018.
Specifically, sour candies have erupted in the nonchocolate category this year. Products such as Mike and Ike Mega Sour Mix, Trolli Sour Brite All Star Mix and Sour Punch Wild Bites all debut at the 2018 NACS show, ready to arrive in c-stores in 2019. These lip-puckering treats may be help spark continued growth in the candy segment for c-store operators next year.