American consumers celebrate National Candy Month with less sugar

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Chocolate remains the favourite candy category among the majority of consumers. Pic: GettyImages
Chocolate remains the favourite candy category among the majority of consumers. Pic: GettyImages

Related tags Nca Candy Confectionery Chocolate

Halfway through the National Confectioners Association’s National Candy Month campaign and new data reveals 47% of consumers are seeking out ‘healthy’ candy options to lower their sugar intake.

Shopkick, a leading shopping rewards app, surveyed over 7,000 Americans to learn all about their candy purchasing habits and preferences. Its data revealed 87% of consumers regularly purchase candy, with Americans of all ages are seeking ‘healthy’ candy alternatives, as they are prioritising eating healthier and decreasing their sugar intake. 

In an article for Forbes, Hank Cardello, executive director for Leadership Solutions for Health + Prosperity at Business for Impact at Gerogetown University - and an advisor to the NCA, said: “Encouragingly, more and more companies are offering items that satisfy consumer demand for great taste in healthier versions​.”

During a visit to the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo he said he observed several new entries with low, no or reduced sugar, to appeal to the 72% of consumers who say they are trying to avoid or reduce their sugar intake, according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

The NCA has a link to a  resource from the International Food Information Council Foundation​ that can be helpful in understanding some of the basics around sugar. And said consumers understand the unique role of chocolate, candy, gum and mints in a happy, balanced lifestyle.

Americans enjoy chocolate and candy two-three times a week, averaging about 40 calories and one teaspoon of added sugar per day from confectionery items. More than three-quarters of all adults believe it is perfectly fine to occasionally treat with chocolate or candy​.”

Shopkick’s key insights for National Candy Month Include:

•           Crazy for Cocoa: Chocolate remains the favourite candy category among the majority of consumers (91%  in 2023; 90% in 2022). Like last year, Reese’s and M&M’s are nearly tied for consumers’ favourite chocolate candy (56 and 57% respectively), followed by Snickers and KitKats (4 % respectively) and Hershey’s (44%).

•           Favourite Flavours: Besides chocolate, the next most popular category of candy is sweet (62%), followed by sour (33%), minty (30%) and spicy (10%). The candy brands consumers love the most in each category are Starburst (51%), Sour Patch Kids (70%), York Peppermint Patties (65%), and Hot Tamales (58%).

•           Lower-Sugar Intake: Sugar is top of mind for candy-buying consumers. Of those who do not regularly purchase candy (13%), 50% say it is to decrease their sugar consumption. Of those who do regularly purchase candy (87%), almost half (47%) seek out ‘healthy’ candy alternatives. Americans’ favourite ‘healthy’ candies are BarkThins (31%), SkinnyDipped Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (30%), and SmartSweets Low-Sugar Gummies (23%). 

•           Sweets Shopping: The vast majority of consumers (87%) are regularly buying candy. When it comes to frequency, 37% of shoppers buy candy a few times a month, whereas 18% buy a few times a week, and 17 % buy once a week. 

•           Cheap Treats: When it comes to how much consumers are willing to spend to satisfy their need for treats, about half (48%) are willing to spend between $5 and $10. Other consumers are willing to spend less than $5 (34%), between $11 and $20 (14 %) and between $21 and $50 (3%).

•           Where to Get the Sugar Fix: 92% of candy consumers purchase them at grocery stores. Other popular candy hubs are convenience stores (41%), candy stores (17%), movies and concerts (12%), and online (7%).

•           The Best Place for a Treat: The majority of Americans’ favorite place to enjoy their confectionary treats is from the comfort of their own home (90 %). Other consumers snack on sugar while traveling in cars, airplanes, trains and boats (67%) and at the movie theater (32%). 

•           Unwavering Brand Loyalty: While consumer loyalty has wavered in recent years, nearly all Americans (91 %) have pledged allegiance to their favorite candy brands.

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