March Finds Confectionery Sales Continuing Double-Digit Pace


Washington — For the past year, gum/mints, chocolate and non-chocolate dollar sales grew 12.8 percent to $33.1 billion. All three areas saw sales increase by double digits, with particular strength in the non-chocolate and gum sectors, according to data insights firm Circana (formerly Information Resources, Inc.). Convenience stores and mass retailers had the strongest performance, while results for the drug channel fell below average. 

In the multi-outlet channel, including convenience stores, chocolate sales reached $18.6 billion, which is up 10.4 percent for the 52 weeks ending March 26, 2023. Only two chocolate subsectors did not manage to keep up with 2022 levels — gift box chocolate and novelty, both of which are relatively small areas.

Three subsectors were responsible for driving double-digit in chocolate — seasonal, sugarfree and snack size items. In the shorter four-week view, Easter seasonal chocolate items were off to a strong start, with sales up 17.1 percent from the same four weeks in 2022.

Seasonal items, both chocolate and non-chocolate, have been outperforming everyday items in the past few years as consumers are re-engaging with the holidays following the pandemic disruption, notes Anne-Marie Roerink, of 210 Analytics, LLC.

While chocolate dollar sales were strong, unit movement decreased 3.9 percent versus a year ago, with pressure in all segments with the exception of seasonal items. 

Non-chocolate candy sales experienced a very strong first quarter, with the 12-week sales up 19.2 percent when compared to 2022. In the 52-week view, sales reached $11.5 billion, up 15.7 percent on year ago levels. All sectors contributed, with very high gains for seasonal items, novelty, sugarfree and caramel/taffy.

Easter sales were off to a good start with dollar gains of 12.4 percent in the four weeks ending March 26, 2023 versus the same period in 2022. Unlike chocolate, non-chocolate sales gains were driven by price increases and stronger consumer demand, as evidenced by an increase in units of 0.9 percent year-on-year in the 52-week view, Roerink points out. In the first quarter of 2023, unit sales increased 1.8 percent. 

Combined breath freshener and gum sales reached $3.8 billion in the 52-week view. Both regular and sugarless gum sales increased in the past year, but the bulk of sales and growth came from sugarless items. It was a combination of price increases and greater unit sales that drove the sales increase for sugarless gum, says Roerink.