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Report: The State of the Candy Industry in 2022


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In 2021, the candy industry hit record sales across the board. According to the National Confectioners Association, consumers spent a whopping $36.9 billion dollars on candy, chocolate, gum, mints and other types of confections last year. In the current forecast period, this growth rate is expected to climb to $44.9 billion by 2026. But what is the state of the candy industry in 2022?

Inflation has made prices higher for all types of goods and services in the United States and across the globe throughout the first half of 2022. Lingering supply chain issues from the pandemic are still affecting all forms of global commerce and distribution channels. We all know that the candy industry certainly is not any exempt from any of these economic challenges.

On Tuesday, July 19th, the Candy Industry website hosted their State of the Candy Industry: 2022 webinar. This focused on the frustrations and uncertainty created by inflation and supply chain issues along with some of the interesting trends that consumer demands are creating in today’s confectionery industry.

The presenter was Brian Weil, sales director from SPINS, a retail data collection and analysis firm. In the live event, he went over some of the most important consumer trends that are shaping sales numbers both online and in brick and mortar stores.

The data set they used includes over 380 different attributes, with over 1 billion data points that are able to help identify actionable insights on brands and retail sales of all types of food products. This data was gathered from retail giants in North America, like Target, Kroger, CVS, along with smaller, regional and independent grocers. They are also able to look at sales data from the Amazon marketplace.

The data set is then split up into the following categories: candy chocolate, candy non-chocolate, gums and mints, fruit snacks and individual snacks.

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1. Specialty & wellness products are experiencing the most growth in 2022.

As the pandemic changed much of what we once considered to be “normal”, a not-so-new trend of healthy eating habits has gained traction. As these types of healthy products gain a larger market share, what does that mean for candy?

Many candy manufacturers are hopping on the health and wellness bandwagon. Some candies offer wellness supplements with known health benefits, such as echinacea, elderberry, ginseng and acai in their products. Many of these ingredients are considered "superfoods" and they are becoming increasingly common in a broad range of candy products.

There are also products in this trend that offer health benefits like teeth-cleaning chewing gum and lollipops. Even dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that are good for your heart. It is safe to say that the market size for “healthy candies” has exploded in recent years. This perhaps could be considered as yet another economic impact felt since the global COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Clean label products are rapidly becoming a consumer movement.

Loosely defined, clean label products advertise what is not in them on their label. This includes phrasing like “non-GMO”, “no artificial sweeteners”, “gluten free” etc. Many products are actively trying to include the fewest possible ingredients. For many consumers this quickly translates into ideas like “healthy”, or “good for you”.

It turns out that even people who are trying to be healthy love a sweet snack every now and then. With clean label packaging, they can avoid things like high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients and artificial additives and preservatives.

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Much of the driving force behind the sales for clean label candy come from millennials and Gen Z. People from these generations have been exposed to warnings of various food additives throughout their entire lives. This has set up a huge market for brands that actively advertise what their products do not contain.

For many in the younger generations, this is making the impulsive purchase a thing of the past. Many consumers are starting to put more thought and intention into their purchase decisions.

The clean label trend is one we have been hearing a lot about lately, and we don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.

3. Functional ingredients are making their way into the candy industry.

Functional products are ones that offer benefits such as giving you energy, or helping you fall asleep. We’ve all been in the store and seen the stress-relieving gummies and wondered if they really work. We are also seeing plenty of products that contain additives like ginkgo biloba for brain health, turmeric as an anti-inflammatory and ashwagandha to reduce stress.

Melatonin is another popular functional ingredient, as many people are ditching their energy drinks and looking for a way to relax. Growth in melatonin sales is now far outpacing CBD, the cannabis derivative with its own set of health benefits. We’ve already seen melatonin gummies and chocolate bars hitting store shelves with mixed success.

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4. Plant-based, organic & sugar-free options are here to stay.

As COVID helped many consumers begin to think about what they put into their bodies, this trend was actually here long before the pandemic. With those “unprecedented times” hopefully mostly behind us, we think people will still be health-conscious while they’re out shopping for food.

As the pandemic limited choices across the board with supply chain issues, people still sought out products like chocolate and gummy candy as a type of comfort food. Manufacturers have realized this and are making many of their products with organic, plant based and sugar free alternatives.

The Hershey Company saw relative success last year with the launch of their organic and sugar-free line of Hershey’s chocolate bars and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Seeing more of the major brands like Hershey and Mondelez International using these types of attribute callouts on their labeling leads us to believe that this is more than just a trend.

Vegan and plant-based gummies are also starting to see fast-paced growth right out of the gate. While some gummy brands saw a slight decrease in sales in the past year, we think plant-based gummies will be huge in the years to come.

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These were just some of the key takeaways we got from the 2022 state of the candy industry webinar. Many of the trends we have noticed brewing in recent years and it was nice to have the data show us what is working for brands and their consumers.

Redstone Foods is a leading supplier of candy products in the United States. We have been in business in the Dallas, Texas area since 1966. Our massive inventory consists of over 6,000 unique products across confections, snacks and glass bottle craft sodas. And we are always on the lookout for exciting new products.

We also have a holiday offering that is second to none. While Christmas is still the leading holiday as far as candy sales go, market research shows a substantial increase in sales during the Halloween and Valentine’s Day holidays more than ever before. This is exciting news for anyone in the candy industry!

See for yourself what sets us apart from the rest. Sign up for an account with us online, or give us a call. Our operating hours are: Monday through Thursday from 8am to 5pm Central Standard Time and we are open on Friday from 8am to 4pm CST.

We hope to gain the opportunity to serve you!