Larger pack sizes, products with nuts and spicy and exotic fruit flavours are featuring heavily in new product development in the confectionery sector, according to Leatherhead Food Research.
In its recently published ‘Innovations in the Global Confectionery Market' report , Leatherhead outlined some of the key trends informing product development in chocolate, sugar confectionery and chewing gum.
“One notable packaging trend of late has been the move towards larger pack sizes, to cater for growing consumer demand for confectionery geared towards sharing at social occasions,” said the report.
Leatherhead analyst Jonathan Thomas told ConfectioneryNews.com: “The trend in markets such as the UK is very much towards bagged products suitable for sharing, a trend accelerated by the economic downturn and the fact people aren’t going out as much.”
The report said sales of bite-sized confectionery and confectionery in large bags had risen over the past few years.
In February, Kraft Foods through Cadbury launched the bite-sized product Bitsa Wispa in response to the trend in the UK.
Nuts and caramel
“Confectionery containing nuts and/or caramel continues to account for much of the new product activity taking place in the market,” said the report.
Leatherhead noted that nuts featured in almost a third of all global chocolate confectionery products.
Hazelnuts and almonds are among the most popular varieties. Leatherhead said the chocolate sector made up around 31% of all product launches featuring almonds every year.
“People are attracted to chocolate products containing nuts for reasons such as improved crunchiness and health perceptions,” said the report.
The research group also highlighted the growing prevalence of caramel chocolate products, with 473 launches in 2010.
“Fruit-flavoured products, especially those based on exotic and topical varieties, remain important within the sugar confectionery sector, and are making increasing headway within the world chewing gum market,” said the report .
Flavours mentioned expressly were watermelon, mango and green tea, while chilli and cinnamon flavours were also said to be enjoying a surge, particularly with Hispanic consumers.
Leathered added that sour flavours were enjoying successes and pointed to UK sales of Nestle’s Rowntree’s Sour Fruit Pastilles which had reached over £30m annually.
According to Leatherhead, sectors performing below expectations were functional confectionery and sugar free or reduced calorie chocolate.
The report said functional ingredients had failed to move into the mainstream. As reported by ConfectioneryNews.com last week. [See here ]
“Global demand for low-sugar and reduced-sugar chocolate remains on the low side, whilst low-fat and low-calorie products have witnessed only moderate growth rates in many parts of the world,” the report continued.
However, it added that the possibilities with the new alternative sweetener stevia, which was recently approved a novel food in the EU, could reinvigorate this niche sector.
Stevia chocolate firm Cavalier scooped an award for innovation at this year's International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM) in January.
Speaking at a conference on stevia at the show, company CEO Felix Verdegem said the Belgian market had responded well to stevia chocolate and added that sales were progressing steadily.