According to Mintel, the sugar and gum confectionery market is estimated to see a rise in value of 10.4% between 2015 and 2020, bolstered by increasing prices despite a slight fall in predicted sales. Nevertheless, concerns over the dangers of sugar usage, particularly links with childhood obesity, pose an ongoing threat to market growth. Several operators in this sector are exploring a more upmarket and adult-oriented positioning in certain categories, including marshmallow and fudge, referencing provenance and handmade credentials. Indeed, 52% of users polled expressed interest in sophisticated adult sweets, e.g. high-quality fruit jellies, with 45% attracted by sweets from other countries, including salted liquorice from Scandinavia. Additionally, 30% would like to see more allergen-free sweets, another potential area for development.
Mintel’s analysis also shows that premium chocolate is experiencing growth with a 72% increase in products launched globally between 2011 and 2015. As consumers become more concerned with cocoa content, source of origin, uniqueness and authenticity, a quarter of chocolate buyers in the UK say they would pay more for a luxury brand of chocolate for themselves, while 44% would do so as a gift. These factors are backed up by a report in The Grocer last Autumn, wherein they state that younger customers are becoming more sugar aware and ethically minded so the standard bar of chocolate is increasingly viewed with disfavour; today’s customer wants to know exactly how many grams of sugar are contained, the percentage of cocoa content and precisely how the cocoa was sourced.
Returning to Mintel, flavour innovation, particularly with Asian-inspired ingredients, has been strongly influential, from wasabi in 2012 to matcha green tea last year. Furthermore, the trend for teas as an ingredient in chocolate confectionery looks set to remain amid claims of health benefits, flavour nuances and ability to complement different strengths of cocoa.
The above trend is confirmed by industry commentators who point to strong sales in ‘superfood chocolates’ and tea-infused options plus predicted growth in ‘grown up confectionery, including cocktail flavours. Within the speciality confectionery and chocolate sector, savoury combinations have been gaining traction and this trend shows little sign of abating, following the spectacular success of sea salted caramel varieties.