SOTIC 2021

NCA’s State of Treating Report for 2021 shows rise in chocolate sales, but low priority for sustainability

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainability is low on American consumers' treats, compared with Europe, NCA report reveals. Pic: GettyImages
Sustainability is low on American consumers' treats, compared with Europe, NCA report reveals. Pic: GettyImages

Related tags Nca Sustainability

Confectionery category shows resiliency during pandemic with $36.7bn in sales, but sustainability issues are low on the trends impacting purchasing patterns with American shoppers.

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has released its annual State of Treating report, a detailed analysis of the confectionery category in the United States during an unprecedented year.

In partnership with the Blommer Chocolate Company, the 2021 report was unveiled at this year’s virtual State of The Industry Conference and combines shopper insights and sales results to provide a dynamic and comprehensive look at the confectionery industry and the special connection that consumers have with chocolate, candy, gum and mints.

When we debuted the 2020 State of Treating report at the beginning of March last year, we never could have imagined the tectonic shift in consumer behaviours and the retail landscape that was about to occur​,” said John Downs, president & CEO of NCA.

This year’s report offers an important insight - people turn to chocolate and candy as a special way of bringing us together and play a critical role in finding safe and creative ways to stay connected to those we care about​.”

Key trends from the report include:

• Sales of chocolate grew 4.2%and non-chocolate grew by 2.9%.

• 77% of consumers feel that good emotional wellbeing leads to better physical health and makes it possible to enjoy life and be happier.

• 61% of shoppers changed up their confectionery purchasing patterns during the pandemic.

• 41% of people bought more value packs with individually-wrapped treats.

• Households purchasing chocolate and candy online at least twice in 2020 increased 76% , and the annual online dollars per buyer increased by 14.3%.

Amidst the uncertainty this year, the confectionery category has remained resilient, which is a true testament to how chocolate and candy remain an important aspect of our collective emotional wellbeing​,” Downs said.

“Whether it’s a quick escape for parents from the chaos of balancing work from home with virtual school, a celebration of a milestone moment or simply sending a treat to a friend from afar, chocolate and candy have helped Americans stay connected even when we couldn’t be together​.”

This report, based on consumer studies by the NCA and 210 Analytics, was conducted in September and December 2020 among 1,500+ qualified shoppers aged 18-75 in each study.


As regards social responsibility and sustainability, the report highlights that only four in 10 of American shoppers said they value environmental and sustainability when making purchase decisions. Slightly more, five in 10, said they are likely to buy from companies that give back to the community or charities.

According to recent research (December 2020)​, which surveyed more than 7,000 consumers across 10 European countries, cocoa supplier Cargill found seven in 10 of consumers factor sustainability into their food and beverage purchase decisions, with an even higher percentage of frequent chocolate purchasers, nearly three-quarters, reporting they prefer to buy sustainable products.

Downs told SOTIC that sustainability is a big issue for the NCA and it will be working closely with its member companies in the coming months to help complement their efforts in providing amplification on these points.

Product claims that resonate with US consumers include: 46% All-Natural; 38% No Artificial Colours, Flavours, Sweeteners; 28%; Non-GMO; 28% No High-Fructose Corn Syrup.

Downs also said the priority in the short term for the NCA is dealing with COVID-19 and it has been advocating a vaccine priority for its companies, and that trying to get back to business as usual is a big objective.

  • Check out a bite-sized taste of the NCA’s Sweet Insights: State of Treating 2021 report here​.

Related news

Show more