Sales of sugar confectionery in Spain reached €214.5 million in 2001, of which 67 per cent came from sugar-free variants, according to data compiled by Nielsen for Palatinit, the sweetener arm of German sugar group Suedzucker.
The data shows that Spain is Europe's biggest market for sweets made with artificial sweeteners and one of the leading markets for sugar-free chewing gum. New ingredients such as isomalt have enabled producers to take out the sugar and provide healthier alternatives to traditional confectionery products without losing the taste.
The introduction of artificial sweeteners into the Spanish confectionery market has in fact reinvigorated certain sectors of the market which had seen a decline in sales in recent years as consumers began to look for healthier products. Toffees, for example, now account for 5 per cent of the Spanish market thanks to the introduction of sugar-free variants, reversing years of steady decline.
But it was chewing gum which showed the greatest growth in sales in 2001, according to the Palatinit report, lifting turnover 10 per cent to €121.9 million. Of this, some €127.1 million came from product made with sugar substitutes, up 13 per cent on the previous year.
Other sugar confectionery products registered sales of €72.6 million during 2001, up 6.3 per cent compared to 2001, but the report shows that sales of sugar-free and traditional products were roughly the same, accounting for €35.3 million and €37.3 million).
The report also looks at the main distribution channels for sugar confectionery in Spain. Small stores and kiosks are the main outlets, accounting for 38 and 27 per cent respectively of sales. In contrast, major retail outlets account for just 3 per cent of total sales, largely because of the impulse nature of confectionery purchases but also because the main buyers of such products are children.
The report also shows that Spaniards have decidedly different tastes in sugar confectionery than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe. For example, while coffee-flavoured sweets lead the market in Italy, these account for just 3 per cent of the market in Spain, where mini-mints and vitamin-enriched sweets are among the most popular.