Pressure from the government and the national health body Public Health England (PHE) on food manufacturers to reduce sugar levels in a bid to fight child obesity has had an impact on confectionery in the UK this year.
Confectioners have been forced to innovate and offer consumers more choice, which has led to an increase in reduced-sugar offerings and different formats including smaller portion packs.
The upside is that the market has seen a category growth in the UK over the past 12 months. No one is talking ‘comeback’ but according to thegrocer.co.uk, the UK’s food and drink bible, the value of the sugary confectionery market rose 4.3% to £897m ($1,16bn).
Average price rises of 3.7% were a contributing factor, but a 0.7% rise in volumes marks a sweet moment for confectionery.
"Major sugar confectionery manufacturers prepared for the future this year by introducing lower-sugar offerings," said Cameron Sharp, senior client manager at Nielsen. "Rowntrees and Fruittella's 30% less sugar fruity confection ranges have grown by £2.8m ($3.6m) and £1.8m (2.34m) respectively year on year, with major retailers increasing the availability of these products on shelf."
Premiumization has also driven this growth with brands such as Candy Kittens and Sweets in the City shaking up the market by offering gourmet candies and free-from to the more discerning consumer.
Amazon is also a main driver where sweets with alcoholic flavorings are proving popular with online shoppers, as well as ethical confectionery.Source: Nielsen/thegrocer.co.uk
Swizzles Drumsticks' Choos and Squashies claim to be ‘the UK's fastest-growing sugar confectionery brand’ – no surprise that both lines target the vegan-friendly and vegetarian trend.
The future looks bright then for confectioners? You could say that, unless you are producing mints and gum.
In the mint category, thegrocerco.uk reports sales of Extra, Trebor, Airwaves and Polo have suffered value and volume losses, with only the Mentos brand showing a slight volume sales growth of 0.4% in the UK.
Gum is still stuck in the doldrums, losing almost £15m ($19.4m) in the previous year, according to latest research by Nielsen.
Mars Wrigley is the only major brand forcing through innovation with the launch of its sugar-free Starburst Chewing Gum in February, designed to target millennials. But its traditional gum ranges like Extra and Airwaves continue to struggle.