Snacks and confectionery have truly blurred from a product perspective and retail slant, says the president of the National Confectioners Association (NCA).
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks.com at the NCA’s annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago last week, Larry Graham said the blurring of the snack and candy category had increased, but had been in the making for years.
“Not only is it starting, it’s been going on for quite some time,” he said.
When Sweets & Snacks started, it was called the ‘All Candy Expo’, Graham said, but that was soon altered because there were products that couldn’t be easily classified as ‘candy’, like chocolate-covered pretzels, for example.
For retail buying, it’s the same thing…
In addition, Graham said that the head buyers of major retail chains were called ‘snack buyers’ – which covered both traditional savory snacks as well as confections. From a business standpoint, it made a lot of sense therefore to pull more snack brands into the trade show, he said.
“It’s so blurred now that I would defy anyone to tell the difference between a snack and a candy in some instances,” he said.
Do consumers see a difference?
Graham said that consumers do differentiate between snacks and candy, a little. Although the blur was still there because many consumers, for example, considered granola bars a snack but technically they were a confection with added fiber.
However, for the most part, he said it wasn’t top of mind to necessarily differentiate between the two sectors. “In general, the consumer wants a snack, they want a snack that tastes good. I don’t think it matters to them – is it a candy or a savory snack in a lot of instances. Except when you’re going for gourmet chocolates and that sort of thing.”
Tackling nutrition demons
Asked if candy and snack manufacturers should join forces to fight their case for being a part of the food industry amid such backlash on sugar, fat and salt, Graham said: “At times it is, and there are similar issues. We do feel that there’s a difference in the nutrition aspect on both sides. I think it’s clear to consumers – they know what a candy is, they know there’s sugar in candy, and they know when traditionally they would eat it.”
However, he added that there were clear differences to consumption of candy and snacks. Candy in the US, for example, was traditionally tied into holiday seasons but snacks weren’t.
Graham said that co-branding between snack and candy makers would be the future, noting that Sweets & Snacks proved exactly that.