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Candy Industry Trends You Should Keep an Eye on in 2023


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Practically everyone loves candy. While there may be an occasional friend, co-worker, or relative you know that isn’t particularly fond of sweets, they are quite rare to come by. Seeing as how 99.9% of the population loves to indulge their sweet tooth every once in a while, the question often comes up: what candy industry trends are worth watching in 2023?

Being a wholesale candy distributor for over 50 years, you tend to learn a thing or two about popularity in the candy business. Some candy trends come and go, but others remain, and the really good ones can create an entire industry niche that becomes the proverbial “rising tide that lifts all boats”.

We’ve seen recent real-world examples of this phenomenon with trends like spicy candy, super sour candies and even more recently, freeze-dried candy. Many of these trends have exploded onto the scene instantaneously, thanks to a few viral videos on social media channels like TikTok.

In the age of social media, a popular video can catapult even the most niche products into becoming a household name. The sheer impact social media has had on the candy industry in recent years was quite evident when roaming around the aisles at the 2023 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.

Some of Our Key Takeaways From This Year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo

The Sweets and Snacks Expo is a yearly event hosted by the National Confectioners Association. This is the premier global industry event where the biggest names in the confection and snack industry come together to showcase their newest, and most innovative products.

Many startups and emerging small businesses are also prominently featured at the annual candy convention. Some brands have found instant success with their products and ideas at this event, as people from all over the world attend, in hopes of finding the “next big thing”.

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While you can find everything from the latest breakfast cereal-inspired candy bar, to sugar-free lollipops, to Flamin’ Hot Cheetos flavored beef jerky, you can gain a lot of insight from stepping back to look at the bigger picture when it comes to emerging snack trends.

Texture Will Be a Big Selling Point for Candy and Snack Products in 2023

One of the highlights we noticed is that the texture of popular snacks was prominently showcased at all corners of the expo. Many producers are playing off of the trend of ASMR videos on YouTube, TikTok and other social media channels. A lot of new products are offering a sensory experience that goes well beyond just the flavor.

For instance, one of the winners of this year’s product innovation awards went to a lollipop that plays music in your head, utilizing “bone conduction audio”. It’s absolutely wild, but this will probably be a big hit with American consumers!

Extra crunchy and crispy, or soft and squishy products are just some concepts we saw a lot of people advertising at the expo. These texture descriptions are being featured more prominently on snack packaging lately, and we think this trend will be here to stay for quite some time.

Spicy & Extremely Hot Products Continue to Rise

Globally, we’ve seen a shift to more spicy options in the candy and snack aisles. This has partially been driven by social media challenges, like the hit YouTube show First We Feast where guests are challenged by eating progressively spicier hot wings. This channel has over 12 million subscribers and stands as a real-world testament to the growing popularity of extremely hot and spicy food items.

Just over 30 years ago, Frito Lay took a huge chance on introducing their Flamin’ Hot line of products to the market, and the gamble they took back then has become a huge success. There’s even a hit movie about the product’s origins now streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

We’ve seen huge success with spicy products in our candy warehouse. Mild is no longer the best seller! From Carolina Reaper gummy bears, and ghost pepper soda, we’ve found that more and more people are enjoying the challenge of eating extremely spicy products.

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Extremely Sour Candy is Another Fun Challenge

When it comes to social media challenges, one trend that continues to captivate candy lovers is the rise of extremely sour candies. These mouth-puckering treats have gained a significant portion of the candy market share, and their level of sourness seems to be reaching new heights with each passing day. It's hard to resist the allure of testing your taste buds' limits and sharing the experience with your friends and followers online.

The Power of Licensed and Branded Products in the Snack Industry

In the ever-evolving world of snacks, one trend that remains a constant force is the incorporation of licensed intellectual property (IP) into candy, snack, and beverage products. This ingenious fusion combines the allure of beloved movies, TV shows, cartoons, and video games with the delicious flavors that consumers have come to expect from renowned brands. From SpongeBob SquarePants gummy candies to Disney's Frozen-themed candy fans, and even Marvel's Avengers PEZ dispensers, the options are seemingly endless.

One product we’ve seen an extreme amount of interest in recently is the Breaking Bad line of sodas from Rocket Fizz. Even though the series ended 10 years ago, in 2013, the popularity of the show continues to this day. The Heisenberg Blue Cream Soda and Los Pollos Hermanos Horchata Soda have been flying off our shelves at an unprecedented rate!

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The success of licensed and branded products in the snack industry can be attributed to the harmonious marriage of taste and pop culture. By infusing popular IPs into well-established brands, snack companies are tapping into the deep emotional connections consumers have with beloved characters and storylines. This synergy creates a unique and immersive snacking experience that resonates with fans across the globe.

At Redstone Foods, we are your source for many new, hard-to-find, and hot items. Our customer service representatives can help advise your candy shop on what is currently hot and trending and help you optimize your order selection based on a number of key market factors. This gives you more time to focus on doing what you do best: putting smiles on people’s faces!

Sign up for an account with us online, or give us a call today. You’ll quickly find out why Redstone Foods is America’s favorite candy distributor!