NCA Identifies the Most Popular Confectionery Trends of 2015



Trends helped drive candy growth faster than 184 other categories in the store.

The 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo will be the must-see destination to discover what will continue driving sales in the candy and snack categories

Washington D.C. (January 8, 2016) – The confectionery industry has fared well in recent years, both during the height of the recession and its aftermath — underscoring the importance of a small indulgence in good and bad economic times. Among more than 300 product categories across the store, confectionery is growing faster than 184 other categories, with 92 of those actually showing declines. Over the 52 weeks through November 1, 2015, confectionery is keeping in lockstep with the total store growth of 3.2 percent, with a dollar sales growth of 3 percent for combined chocolate and non-chocolate.

Some of the sales trends that drove the market growth in 2015 were:

Chewy candy — For several years, chewy candy has led the growth in non-chocolate with high single digit and even double digit growth. These gains are driven by significant levels of product innovation in terms of new and bold flavors (particularly in sour), fun shapes and packaging. Chewy candy is not only a growth leader, but also the largest sub-segment within non-chocolate.

Mints — In the past year, mints have seen consistent dollar growth around 4-5 percent, perhaps directly tied to the nation’s intrigue with spicy and flavorful foods.

Gourmet/premium chocolate — The premium segment has been on fire with double digit growth for several years now, and 11 percent for the most recent twelve months. This includes higher-end chocolate with organic claims, chocolate with very high cocoa percentages, but also products from countries such as Germany or Belgium. We also see a rise in the share of premium that focuses on GMO-free, fair trade, etc — even though this very much remains a niche segment to date.

Fun and daring flavor combinations — Tied to the premium trend is a subtrend of creating and infusing fun and daring flavor combinations — particularly enjoyed by the Millennials. These are things like hot red peppers, bacon, lavender and ginger that give a new twist to an old favorite.

The infusion of nuts/dried fruits — According to the NCA survey among 1,400 shoppers, 41 percent purchase chocolate with fruits and nuts when looking for better-for-you alternatives. Actual dollar sales back up these claims with chocolate infused with hazelnuts up 9 percent, almonds up 4 percent and dried fruits (a much smaller segment) up 56 percent.

Minis featured in re-sealable packaging — Resealable packages have been tremendously popular with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 10 percent across the globe. They allow people to enjoy a little treat and easily share with others. They also address the on-the-go convenience that is a rising requirement among shoppers. The retail value sales of shareable bags/boxes grew by more than $1.0 billion over 2009-2014, and is expected to continue to grow at a similar rate over 2014-2019.

Dark chocolate — According to the NCA survey, 70 percent of shoppers will at least occasionally switch to dark chocolate as an alternative to milk chocolate. Actual sales figures saw dark chocolate sales grow by more than 9 percent. But even within dark chocolate, the market is slowly shifting from dark to darker: 57 percent of shoppers said they will shift up to a higher cocoa percentage when looking for healthier-for-you alternatives.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo has turned the lights on in a new hall, in addition to the West hall, and grown by 20 percent! Discover the widest range of thousands of the latest candy and snack items with more than 16,000 of your industry peers at NCA’s Sweets & Snacks Expo at Chicago’s McCormick Place this May. Experience four acres of product innovation, gain insights on current trends, taste-test best sellers and grow your business. Learn More.

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The National Confectioners Association is the trade organization that advances, protects and promotes chocolate, candy, gum and mints, and the companies that make these special treats. As the leading association for the $35 billion U.S. confectionery industry, NCA educates the public to help ensure that it understands and appreciates the unique role that chocolate and candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle. Confections are produced in all 50 states, creating jobs for approximately 55,000 workers in more than 1,000 manufacturing facilities across the country. More than 400,000 jobs in agriculture, retail, transportation and other industries rely in part on the sale of confections for their livelihood. For every one job that is created by confectionery companies, another seven are supported in related industries. Learn more about the “Power of Sweet” at, or follow NCA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Christopher Gindlesperger 202-534-1440 [email protected]
Susan Whiteside 202-534-1440 [email protected]


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