- Candy sales — chocolate, non-chocolate as well as gum and breath fresheners — increased in 2022 to $42.6 billion from $36.9 billion in 2021 as the category was aided by inflation, according to Euromonitor stats in the National Confectioners Association’s annual State of Treating report. Unit sales increased slightly in non-chocolate candy and gum and breath fresheners, according to the report, and they fell 4.2% in chocolate.
- Despite inflation impacting prices across commodities and goods, 74% of consumers said candy remains an affordable treat. Just over eight in 10 (81%) said chocolate and candy are a fun part of life, and people said they have a confectionery treat an average of 2.4 times per week.
- Sweets sales have been on the upswing as consumers continue to look for ways to treat themselves after changes in holidays and celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic decreased purchases in 2020.
Today’s economy is difficult, and the NCA’s annual report on the confectionery market shows that sweets may be one way consumers are finding solace.
Even though inflation has boosted the cost of candy, chewing gum and other sweets by more than 12% from January 2022 to January 2023, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, a large majority of consumers are finding room in their wallets for “affordable treats.”
Even more consumers — 78% — say that chocolate and candy make them happy, the NCA report found. But almost half of consumers took steps to save money on candy last year, buying other brands, pack sizes, shopping at other stores or getting different kinds of confections.
Two of the largest sweets makers, Hershey and Mondelēz International, have seen this kind of consumer desire transcending economic conditions in the last year. In prepared remarks accompanying Hershey’s 2022 year-end report delivered in February, CEO Michele Buck hailed the company’s milestones last year: more than $10 billion in net sales, with growth in product volume despite inflation.
“People are connected to our brands. And during the tough times, we know that that connectivity leads to them continuing to buy,” Buck said in a Q&A period with analysts.
Consumers also are more interested in nutritional information about their candy, the report found.
Nine in 10 people are interested in calorie and portion information on chocolate and candy packaging, and two-thirds of consumers say this information is at least somewhat easy to find. The most important aspects of label information, consumers said, is total calories (28%) and total sugar (22%). This data can help consumers make important dietary choices.
This syncs up with recent confectionery industry initiatives. In 2017, Mars Wrigley, Ferrero, Ferrara, Lindt, Ghirardelli and Russell Stover all committed to increasing the number of individually wrapped candies that were 200 calories or fewer, as well as boosting the number of candies with front-of-pack labels within five years. Those five confectioners — plus Hershey, which made its own commitment — met those goals last year.
Candy makers are continuing to work toward improving the nutritional profile of their treats, turning toward plant-based or low-and-no sugar options. The report had no information on how these sales are performing, but the launches in this area and how they impact total sales of the confectionery category will be telling.
The report was made up of an online survey of 1,567 consumers between ages 18 and 75 done by 210 Analytics. Market data and projections from IRI and Euromonitor were also added.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated 2021 confectionery sales in last year’s State of Treating report. According to the report, 2021 sales were $36.9 billion.
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