Healthy Confectionery: The move to ‘Better-For-You’ sweets and chocolate, post pandemic

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

The Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a surge of fitness enthusiasts, as well as healthy indulgence. Pic: BHF
The Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a surge of fitness enthusiasts, as well as healthy indulgence. Pic: BHF

Related tags health & wellbeing webinar

While the pandemic has raised interest in healthier eating to support overall health, this has also been mirrored by a growth in interest in comfort indulgence to ward of anxiety and stress. We look at current trends in our next webinar, on 1 June, and in this article, we look at latest research driving these trends.

In an upcoming webinar​ we ask if healthy confectionery is well placed with less sugar, less calories, smaller size packs to support a more balanced lifestyle as people come out of months of isolation with a new set of personal wellbeing priorities shaped by an increasingly holistic ideal of health and wellness that draws attention to individual needs, combined with those of the community and planet, as old habits are now consigned to the past.

Our panellists 

Our expert panel includes Bas Smit​, Global VP Marketing, Barry Callebaut, whose team authored a 13-page presentation: ‘Consumer Responses Post-Lockdown’, last year as well as promoting a consumer-centric ‘good for me, good for the planet’ approach with Barry Callebaut’s new range of vegan, wholefruit and plant-based alternatives.

He is joined by Paul Morris​, European Sales Manager, at Colombian B4B Luker Chocolate, known for its premium cocoa and impeccable sustainability credentials, as well as its premiumisation of vegan chocolate with its eco-friendly, vegan, clean-label products.

With almost one in four UK confectionery buyers now claiming they choose sugar-reduced or sugar-free sweets over standard ones, sugar reduction is big business and Beneo’s Isomalt is one of the most popular sugar replacers used in sugar-free hard candies worldwide. Rudy Wouters​, Head of Beneo Technology Centre, will also join us to talk more about this trend.

Fitness surge

The CN webinar comes at a time of a mass global roll-out of vaccination programmes, and the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) new survey suggests the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a surge of fitness enthusiasts.

Its figures show that two-thirds (64%) of people surveyed in the UK say that exercising is a priority for improving their physical and mental health in the wake of coronavirus – up 6% compared to before the pandemic.

The BHF survey also shows that 29% of respondents expect their physical health to improve as lockdown lifts and 28% expect their mental health to benefit.

Regina Giblin, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the BHF, said: “It’s promising to see that more people are prioritising the physical and mental benefits of exercise as we emerge from the pandemic. A year of lockdown has affected us all in different ways. For some it’s given us the time to make healthy changes to our lifestyles, while for others it’s made things understandably more difficult. Regardless of your situation, the lifting of lockdown provides the perfect opportunity to build on the healthy habits you’ve already adopted or change the unhealthy ones you may have picked up.”

Health and wellness

In North America, the key takeaway from a new report by The Hartman Group​ reveals there is a mainstream consensus on balance: balance between physical and mental health and balance between dietary discipline and enjoyment of a broad range of healthy (and sometimes indulgent) foods.

The importance of mental health especially stands out for extending beyond the mainstream to even those consumers least likely to include health and wellness considerations in their diets and lifestyles​, ” the report says.

Consumers are more attuned to the importance of resilience and healing in the face of change and the meaning of health and wellness remains firmly rooted in a foundation of physical and mental resilience. Throughout 2020, a year of frustrating and fluctuating circumstances, consumers returned to this ideal as their ‘North Star’, guiding their aspirations as they reimagined their paths to wellbeing.

What are the key reasons for changed views on health and wellness?

  • more stress or anxiety – 38%
  • changed lifestyle – 33%
  • weight gain/loss – 32%
  • change in fitness level – 29%
  • new/changed health conditions – 26%
  • loved one with COVID-19 diagnosis or suspicion – 26%
  • new, relevant learning about health – 26%

Although the pandemic has undoubtedly caused anxiety and depression, the report finds there is also evidence of a countertrend of improved mental health among those who have found the slower pace of life under pandemic beneficial to their emotional wellbeing.

The report says: “Consumers have aspired to a holistic vision of health and wellness for years, aware that wellbeing extends beyond treating surface-level symptoms of illness in the physical body. The past year brought into focus the threads connecting certain dimensions of health and wellness in particular, links between body and mind as well as personal and community health. With these connections at the fore, consumers describe how inextricable these elements are and how vulnerabilities in one area put other areas at risk​.”

Healthy confectionery

Flavorchem's latest study into trends in confectionery reveals that chocolate remains the top snack of the pandemic with nearly 90% of consumers purchasing some form of chocolate or candy within the last three months.

Its findings include:

  • Comfort: As rising attention is placed on the importance of mental and emotional health; confectionery is already well-positioned as a ‘feel good’ category that provides consumers with a sense of comfort. 72% of consumers agree that confections are an important part of their emotional wellbeing as many seek out indulgent chocolate moments. In fact, 80% of consumers are eating the same amount (56%) or more (24%) chocolate during the course of the pandemic.
  • Celebration: Limited edition and seasonal chocolates play a significant role in everyday celebrations, with 60% of US consumers purchasing holiday-themed chocolate candy, according to Mintel.
  • Multi-Sensory Experience: Daring flavours, unique textures, and new formats excite consumers and elevate their chocolate experiences. Launches of hot cocoa bombs, dippable snacks, ruby chocolate, and cross-category confections are popular in the candy aisles.
  • Vegan Claims: Wider consumer interest in plant-based diets and ethical standards is attributing to a rise in vegan claims, which have appeared in 7% of all chocolate confectionery launches in 2020.
  • Sustainable Cocoa: Chocolate launches with ethical claims continue to expand as more consumers expect brands to invest in sustainability with efforts prioritized in responsibly sourced ingredients and production, positive environmental impact, and human rights.

Webinar sign-up details

  • The ConfectioneryNews webinar will offer more expert insights from our panellists on the topics raised in this article. Registration is free and you can sign-up here​.
  • START DATE: JUNE 1, 2021

Related news

Follow us


View more