Cleveland — Non-chocolate sales have been a major growth driver for the confectionery category for the past several years. For the latest 52-week period ending September 5, 2021, non-chocolate dollar sales increased 8.8 percent, with growth rates rapidly accelerating into 2021, according to data from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). For the latest 13-week period, non-chocolate sales increased 16.1 percent in the multi-outlet and convenience universe, IRI reports.
The powerhouse within non-chocolate continues to be chewy., which represents nearly half of all non-chocolate sales and puts up high growth percentages year after year. For the latest 12 months, sales of chewy candy rose to $4.5 billion, an increase of 13.7 percent versus the same period a year ago. The data shows that these dollar gains go hand-in-hand with increases in units and volume.
Innovation in packaging, pack sizes, shapes, flavors, colors, sweeteners and more is driving high engagement for chewy candy, particularly among young consumers, says Anne-Marie Roerink, founder of 210 Analytics, LLC.
One area of innovation generating above-average growth is sour. Nearly 120 sour non-chocolate candy items were introduced during the past year, which added more than $105 million in sales to the category. Sales for sour candies reached $1.3 billion during the past year, representing an increase of 14.9 percent, while unit sales were up 9.7 percent.
Chewy candy dominates the sour segment, representing 99 percent of sales, with 14.7 percent dollar sales growth in the past year. When compared to the pre-pandemic normal of 2019, sour chewy candy sales are up an impressive 24.5 percent. Dollar success is driven by strong demand, as evidenced by the 12.2 percent increase in volume sales. Hard sour candies represent $12.5 million in sales, but lost a little ground during the past year.
Pricing for sour chewy candies averages $2.72 per unit and $7.23 per pound — though pack size highly influences these numbers. Sour candies experienced inflation during the past year in line with the overall price increases across the confectionery and retail environments.
Sour items tend to focused in the everyday space, with 95 percent of products falling into the non-seasonal sector, leaving 5 percent with specific seasonal packaging, flavors, shapes or colors. While there are more than 500 sour-flavored non-chocolate items in the IRI-measured marketplace, 147 items deliver 80 percent of sour candy sales.
Private brand sour candy represents 3.1 percent of all sour candy sales for the latest 52 weeks, delivering $34.5 million in sales, according to IRI. Additionally, private brand sour candy dollar gains (5.2 percent) were below those of manufacturer branded sour candies, which increased 15 percent.
Roerink points out that given millennials’ love for chewy and sour candies, it is likely growth in the sector will be strong for many years to come.