A new report predicts that healthier eating patterns and strong economic growth, in both developing and developed markets, will boost global confectionery sales to $159.6bn by 2010.
According to the report's authors Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the market will on average experience compound annual growth of 3.95 per cent, thanks to products such as sugarless sweets and functional chocolate.
The report is likely to be welcomed by confectionery manufacturers, many of whom have previously worried about how to tailor confectionery products - traditionally regarded as being high in sugar and fat - to changing consumer tastes.
All over the world, consumers are turning away from traditional confectionery products due to fears over health problems such as obesity, while dietary patterns such as the low-carb diet are becoming more and more popular, the analysts predict.
According to GIA, the sales of healthy confectionery in developing markets are particularly important for future growth, thanks to booming consumer spending power in these areas.
The analysts claim that sales of confectionery in these areas are "transcending traditional notions" to become a staple snack instead of a treat, a trend that mirrors the state of the markets in Europe and the US.
The report also states that Latin America and Asia Pacific represent the fastest growing markets worldwide, with projected compound annual growth rates of 5.7 and 5.5 per cent respectively.
And individual countries to keep an eye on include China, Mexico, Indonesia and Eastern Europe, the analysts claim.
However, manufacturers should not ignore Western countries, as they will still dominate the global market. Europe alone will represent 47 per cent of overall sales in 2010, the report predicts.
Promotion is still the best way for manufacturers to boost sales of healthy products in these areas, as, "in the coming years, the global market for confectionery is likely to be driven by…. strong marketing and a major revamp of supermarket display," the report states.
GIA also predicts that manufacturers will be able to have a greater presence on the market in these areas, thanks to mushrooming supermarket chains and retail outlets.
Several manufacturers have been keen to promote their own 'healthy' confectionery products in recent months.
Barry Callebaut, which produces functional and probiotic chocolate and cocoa, last month claimed that a quarter of Western consumers are interested in chocolate with physical or emotional healthy benefits.
And Beneo Patatinit, which last year launched a range of sugar-free sweeteners on the European market, claims that more than half of consumers are willing to switch to sugar-free versions of traditional confectionery lines.
Other companies with sugar-free products include Tate & Lyle, which has developed a new sweetener for dairy desserts, and Ricola, which will push its herbal sweet ranges in the UK later this year.