Washington — As the days get longer and temperatures rise, snacking trends shift towards more personalized and bold options. After more than two years of cooking at home, consumers are eager to try new flavor combinations and update their current snacking habits.
Tessa Porter, founder of Sprinkk LLC, an Omaha, NE-based candy development and manufacturing company, says that people are looking specifically for ingredient and texture innovations as well as personalized snacking options to shake up the candy aisle.
Previously, the head of innovation and technology at Ferrara Candy Co., Inc., Porter’s team invented Nerds brand gummy clusters, which won the 2021 Most Innovative New Product Award at the Sweets & Snacks Expo. Her company, Sprinkk, was founded with the intention to reduce hurdles for new products and businesses through smarter process design and access to small scale manufacturing.
Porter recently sat down with Candy & Snack TODAY to discuss what she is seeing as the top five trends in candy innovation this summer.
1. All Things Gummi
Chewy candy, specifically gummies, is not just growing in development but is exploding in the marketplace and has been for the past few years, Porter states.
“It’s multi-generational. I do a lot of work making candy as a science experiment with elementary science classes and I have a lot of conversations with kids about their favorite types. If it’s non-chocolate, it almost is exclusively gummi. It’s my generation and then all of those following that are just really digging the gummi candy,” Porter tells Candy & Snack TODAY. “We’re seeing not only traditional gummi brands growing but a lot of new brands going into gummy as well.”
According to data provided by Porter, the global gummi market is expected to hit $42 billion by 2028 with an annual growth rate of 12.6 percent. She notes that it will be interesting to see how long this level of growth lasts and what sorts of innovations will be seen going through future development processes.
2. Reduced Sugar Permissibility
Similar to changing consumer trends within chocolate, candy is experiencing a shift to more low-sugar and no sugar options.
“Consumers are more aware of sugar and its perceived effects. They don’t want to moderate how much candy they consume so if they feel like they can eat a whole package of gummies and feel like they’re only getting three to nine grams of sugar instead of 20 grams, that’s definitely a driver,” Porter says.
Reduced sugar options are being developed not just within the gummi sector but across all non-chocolate, including hard candies and caramels, often with few flavor differences.
“There’s been a lot of really great development on the ingredient side with different companies producing materials that aren’t sugar alcohols,” Porter says. “This really allows you to create and develop a candy product that is very similar to a full sugar product.”
While this is not necessarily a new trend, Porter explains that demand for multi-texture candy experiences are agrowing and cites Nerds Gummy Clusters as an inspiration.
Whether it’s crispy, crunchy, chewy or liquid, having multiple textures within one piece has become something consumers are looking for. Gummi candies with a crunchy or crispy coating or even a liquid filling, add another parameter of flavor that keeps consumers coming back for more.
“It keeps it from getting boring and gives you a sensory experience along with flavor,” she explains. “It keeps it interesting and provides variation, which goes along with the shorter attention spans that we’re seeing today.”
Similar to how gummi candy is multi-generational, Porter says that because millennials grew up with more hands-on candy, the novelty has been maintained for future generations. Products that allow consumers to customize their experience, whether it’s dipping something in sour liquid or being able to build different shapes, consumers want to feel in control of their snacking experience.
“Being able to control the portion that you get or feel like you’re building or creating your own recipe or product has appeal in the marketplace,” Porter says.
Porter also believes that social media platforms such as TikTok are contributing to this particular trend because they influence others to experience what they see other content creators doing.
5. Super Sour
Across all food and beverage, extreme taste sensations such as spice have been on the rise and, according to Porter, sour is the flavor that translates best within candy. Porter also says that kids are the biggest driver of this particular trend.
“I think there’s something going on with taste buds and they seem to be able to tolerate more extremes,” she says. “Again, in the work that I do with elementary schools, sour worms are always preferred over regular gummi bears or worms. They really prefer the sour sanding on the outside.”
Similar to playability, TikTok and other social media challenges have influenced how consumers are interacting with their sour snacks and challenging others to join in on the fun.
“Gen Z and millennials especially are on more social media and are focused on making an online personality. Those super sour challenges or things like that are really driving a lot of sour innovation right now,” Porter says.