The confectionery market is set to transform again in 2018. PRIYANKA JETHWA looks at the latest trends, from plant-based diets to American candy, to find the must-stocks.

Confectionery is a vital category for both retailers and food­service outlets. It is also an impulse category, so purchasing trends change regularly and frequently. What trends are on the horizon for 2018, what will be the deadwood in your range and what are the new arrivals you need to look out for?

Working around diets

A trend that is set to boom in 2018 is the rise of plant-based diets, as more health-conscious consumers are looking for alternatives in the chocolate sector to meet their sweet cravings.

Jimmy Attias, co-founder and CEO of Bean and Pod, says: “Vegan-certified chocolates are a must-stock, especially with point of purchase marketing to highlight their credentials. Bean and Pod has a range of dairy-free chocolates with clear labelling and a variety of flavours that are perfect for gifting or sharing.”

Levi Boorer, customer development director at Ferrero, says there could potentially be a challenge for the category to overcome as the health and free-from agenda grows.

However, Ferrero is aware that the way its products are consumed is incredibly important to its consumers.

Boorer adds: “That is why we encourage people to consume our products in small quantities and why 95% of our products have less than 150 calories per serving.”

Sharing is caring

This search for products that offer an added bonus does not stop there and sugar confectionery is driving market growth in the area. According to recent Kantar Worldpanel data, year-on-year total sugar confectionery spend is up 5%.

Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelez International, says that consumers are now looking more for bold flavours and new textures.

“Our research shows that although three-quarters of adults are open to sour sweets, only a quarter currently buy into the £22m sour segment, so this is a trend that we are exploiting,” adds Nash.

Sharing bags and pouches are also predicted to grow in demand. Laura George, brand and trade PR manager at Mars Chocolate UK and Wrigley UK, says that reward and treat formats account for a third of category sales and are popular with the consumer as they are a permissible portion size, making them good for any seasonal occasion.

Mark Walker, sales director at Swizzels, notes that Big Night In is the perfect opportunity to maximise sales of sharing formats.

“When families and friends are planning a big night in, they seek variety bags to ensure there is something to suit everyone’s tastes. Swizzels’ £1 pricemarked Loadsa range offers a variety of our most popular products, individually wrapped, so everyone is sure to find their favourite,” he adds.


Andrew Ovens, marketing manager at Big Bear Confectionery, says that branding goods as limited edition means consumers are more likely to make an impulse purchase.

Ovens explains: “Berry flavours have seen huge popularity across a number of categories in recent years, so we decided this was a great area for developing new products.

“We find that limited edition ranges perform well, as existing Fox’s fans and those who have not tried the brand before are intrigued by new flavours. Seeing the success of the limited edition ranges has helped form our plans for 2018.”

Another key area of growth is coming from across the pond in the form of American candy, a sub-category that has resulted in the opening of specialised American confectionery stores across the UK, riddled with brands from Warheads to Jolly Ranchers to Swedish Fish.

Thus, to prepare for one of the biggest trends to which 2018 could play host, it is vital that wholesalers are ‘in the know’ about what American candy is popular and how to get the range right in time for the new year – so, watch this space.

Supplier Viewpoint

“Growth is likely to be driven by sharing and gifting, as chocolate lovers bring people together to share in their indulgence.

“Last year, Divine launched a new tasting set of 12 little bars in six flavours to tap into the trend for premium sharing chocolate, encouraging shoppers to trade up from mainstream pouches or bars to something less formal than a traditional box of chocolates. In just 12 months, the tasting set has entered the Divine brand’s top 10 products and delivered incremental category growth for the retailers that have listed it.”

Chris Noel, sales director,
Divine Chocolate

“We are operating in a much tougher trading environment, with economic uncertainty created by Brexit, declining disposable income, increasing commodity costs as well as changing consumption habits, all affecting the confectionery market. These trends contributed to a decline in impulse purchasing this year, while also affecting the premiumisation trend in gift purchases.

“It is trends like these that we look to see continue in 2018. As consumer consumption habits change, they are opting for little and often treating, and quality over quantity. As a result, premium confectionery for gifts and sharing are winning.”

Levi Boorer, customer development director, Ferrero

“A key global trend expected to develop further in 2018 is ‘kidulting’ – treats and sweets geared towards adult consumers who are looking for ways to relive their childhood.

“Tangerine conducted research into this trend that revealed that simple pleasures, such as eating a Sherbet Fountain, helped adults reconnect with their inner ‘big kid’. The demand and nostalgia for retro sweets offers wholesalers an opportunity to maximise sales by stocking up on old favourites, such as The Barratt Sweet Champions carton by Tangerine, which features a large selection of confectionery icons including Wham, Fruit Salad, Black Jack Refreshers and DipDab.”

Russell Tanner, marketing and category director, Tangerine Confectionery

Retailer Viewpoint

“We are seeing more people buying £1 pricemarked sharing bags of chocolate. However, if the price went up then sales would decline – Mondelez put the price up on one of its products to £1.29-pricemarked and sales dropped instantly; it realised the mistake and rectified it after a few months.”

Kam Singh Nijjar,
Spar Meriden, Coventry


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