When you think about better-for-you foods, candy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind but the confectionary industry is singing a healthier tune by introducing products with a clean ingredient list as seen at the Candy Planning: Christmas & Halloween session earlier this year. During this session buyers reviewed items for the coming Christmas and Halloween seasons and in addition to clean ingredients, they also noticed novelty and premium items were among the top trends.
Novelty: Not just a sweet treat, but also a toy! Could kids ask for anything more? Rising in popularity, novelty candy had a large presence including the Florida based Atlantic Candy Company who featured their Toy Box item - A chocolate egg with a surprise toy inside. According to Mintel's 2017 Consumer Trends research, kids are the biggest influencers when it comes to purchasing snacks and candy so it is no surprise to see the items that appeal to children trending up.
Better-for-you: From natural and wholesome ingredients to less sugar and sugar free, the candy category is offering retail buyers healthier options to put on the shelf. Dark chocolate is also popular as its has less sugar and boasts other added health benefits like antioxidants. Incorporating nuts and dried fruits was also a common theme among the products reviewed. Retailers are using healthier and cleaner options to innovate the category and reposition confectionary as a healthier, more wholesome option for consumers.
Some noteworthy better-for-you items that were presented during the program include, Boulder, Colorado based Little Secrets chocolate candies that are made without artificial ingredients, flavors or colors. But better-for-you is not strictly limited to chocolate, as the Sugar Land, Texas (Yes, that is really where they are based, no pun intended) company Wholesome Sweeteners introduced Delishfish, an organic gummy candy made without high fructose corn syrup, and free of all artificial colors and flavors. Its even Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten-Free, Kosher and Vegan.
Premium: Like better-for-you items, premium is another way that retailers can innovate the candy aisle. With the cost of cocoa rising, suppliers are producing high quality items with enhanced packaging and unique flavor profiles to drive up the price point to cover their margins. Interestingly enough, the rise in premium also aligns with consumer demand for higher quality alternatives with natural and better-for-you ingredients. For suppliers and retailers to compete in the confectionery space they need to continue to identify with their consumer and evolve with their growing wants.
Some examples of challenger brands that are helping to build the premium category include Divine Chocolate Inc.
who has clean and sophisticated packaging along with unique flavor combinations like dark chocolate with pink Himalayan salt or their 70% dark chocolate with mango and coconut. Also, Massachusetts based Taza Chocolate
has a line of beautifully packaged stone ground chocolates which are booming with bold flavor.