Double digit growth rates for the burgeoning €25.8 billion global organic market contrast sharply with estimated market growth of just 2 per cent for the confectionery market in the UK alone.
The UK's Soil Association, proponent of organic food, expects a decent 10 per cent growth for sales of organic products this year, which it says is four to five times higher than average sales growth for the general food market in a good year.
And while there is a seemingly constant roll-out of organic chocolate products, these growth figures, it would appear, are encouraging sweet confectioners to move outside of the traditional confectionery domain and into new formulations for organic sweets in order to meet the broadening appeal of organic products.
Market analysts Mintel recorded 86 European product launches in the organic sweets arena in the previous 12 months.
This figure compares to a diminutive 13 new product launches in Europe for the previous year.
In the US, the picture is the same. Mintel's product tracking reveals a total of 79 product launches in the past 12 months, nearly three times as many as the 29 launches clocked up for the previous year.
In Europe, for example, Danish organic and body care firm Uktekram launched organic wine gums onto the local market, while Milan-based organic company Ecomarket brought organic rice malt sweets to Italian shelves. The firm also offers liquorice, sage and lemon, and camomile and lime 'stick candies' in its portfolio.
Licorice pops up again in the US. Californian firm Tundra Trading launched its Tubis organic soft licorice rope brand in a formulation that uses "only the best organic ingredients".
Elsewhere, US organic 'confection' ingredient firm Parker Products now offers 'Pink Peppermint Bark' in its portfolio of sweets. The firm claims its organic confections line features “premium products using only the purest, minimally processed, natural ingredients available”.
Earlier this year, the US trade show All Candy Expo highlighted organic products, along with premium and gourmet, which organisers said were the fastest growing segments in the confectionery and snack markets.
And in a European consumer survey, market researchers Euromonitor found that half of respondents thought organic food and drink was either important or very important. According to Euromonitor, the organic finished product market is expected to grow by a massive 32 per cent from 2006 to 2011.
In terms of certification in the UK, confectioners can turn to the Soil Association to become a licensee. In order to gain certification, the product "needs to adhere to our strict guidelines," a spokesperson at the Soil Association said.
All ingredients present in the formulation must hail from organic sources. "If the ingredients are not actually available organically – for example, salt or water – the ingredient must be sourced from the association's list of non-organic approved ingredients," the spokesperson explained to ConfectioneryNews.com.
No genetically-modified sources are permitted, nor are artificial sweeteners, flavours or colourings.
In terms of cost, firms will pay an initial application fee, of £250 (£293.73 including VAT) for the initial screening, first inspection and six months of 'core' services. After this, the annual fee is based on the company's total organic certified sales. In the first year, the Soil Association asks companies to predict what this figure is likely to be, and in the following years “declare your actual organic certified sales figure”.
In fact, if firms earn less than £180,000 in annual sales, the association will ask for a flat £548 annual fee. Between £180,000 and £2 million they will ask for “0.003 multiplied by your organic certified sales”.