Sweet news: Candy makers can capitalize on these trends

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Sweet news: Candy makers can capitalize on these trends

By David Salazar - 05/17/2017
If IRI’s latest Pacesetters report on the biggest consumer packaged goods product launches in 2016 could be summed up in one message, it’s that consumers are looking for healthier options. The trend extends to consumables with 57% of food and beverage categories with healthier solutions growing faster than the sector average.

Healthy options are just one area presenting opportunities for candy makers to capitalize on, according to a report from cocoa and chocolate supplier Cargill on 2017 candy trends. Other opportunities include indulgent sensory experiences, premium ingredients, sustainability and engaging the consumer through technology.

Healthy choices that consumers look to make are largely driven by a desire to know what’s in their food, with 42% of those IRI surveyed saying a big factor in considering a new product is whether it has easy-to-understand ingredients. Taking these interests to heart, and citing a Label Insight survey showing 94% of consumers want to know how their food is made, Hershey is undertaking a “smart snacking” commitment.

The company has plans to have half of its individually wrapped candy bars contain 200 calories or fewer by 2020, the same year it plans to make its Hershey’s branded chocolate products with simple ingredients. These efforts fulfill both the healthy interests consumers are showing and the desire for more transparency in their chocolate specifically.

“As they seek out simple, less processed foods, consumers are increasingly scrutinizing ingredients lists and product packaging,” Cargill said. “A clear and understandable label provides clear opportunities to add value.”

Even as companies work to make candy ingredients plainer and appealing to health-conscious shoppers, Cargill noted that indulgence is a key area in which candy makers can capture shoppers.

Recent research from 210 Analytics found that three-quarters of people see candy as a little indulgence and reward, and 74% said candy can be enjoyed in moderation. To that end, Cargill noted that candy companies can deliver by offering exciting flavors — something such candy makers as Jelly Belly do with its BeanBoozled collection of flavors.

Additionally, Cargill identified texture as an area where companies can deliver on indulgence. For Hershey, textural experiments are paying off, with the company noting that its launch of Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch Bars drove seasonal sales growth, and that it’s planning a launch of Hershey’s Crunchers and Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups.

“Front-of-pack texture claims are more and more prominent, and brands are finding new, creative ways to describe texture — including as part of the product name,” Cargill said.

Cargill noted that the indulgence aspect of candy can be highlighted by premium offerings, including highlighting ingredients’ origins and technological engagement with the consumer. For example, Mondelez International’s Cocoa Life initiatives showcase the origins of the cocoa for its big chocolate brands, while empowering the farming communities it is supported by. And at the intersection of technological engagement and healthy is Hershey, which plans to roll out its SmartLabel QR codes onto packaging for all standard- and king-size candy labels in 2018.