The top 4 packaging trends in confectionery in 2024

By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/CSA Images
Image: Getty/CSA Images

Related tags Packaging Packaging and labeling Shelf life Recycling Confectionery Candy Chocolate

With packaging as diverse and innovative as the sweet treats it houses, 2024 sees brands accelerate their environmental, visual and technological know-how

Global confectionery launches are on the up, growing 2% over the five years to September 2023, according to researcher Innova Market Insights​. And Europe is the leading market with 40% of product launches and many if those brands are revamping their product packaging to connect and engage with confectionery consumers. Here, we look at five of the leading packaging trends in confectionery in 2024.

1. Biodegradable and compostable materials

Rising awareness of the planet’s health prompts consumers to make more environmentally conscious packaging choices​. It is no longer a bonus but a basic necessity. According to Deloitte Global, 94% of consumers​ say it’s a brand’s responsibility to develop products that are not harmful to the earth. As consumers opt for brands and products that align with their values, packaging is a clear determiner of confectionery’s eco-friendliness. As such, biodegradable and compostable materials, like plant-based plastics, kraft paper and edible films, are becoming increasingly popular.

Bio-based claims on confectionery packaging increased by 114% between October 2018 and September 2023. For example when Loving Earth released its Turkish rose-infused cashew milk chocolate to the Australian market in January 2024, its bio-based wrapper packaging was recyclable, made from 97% post-consumer recycled materials (PCR) fibre, and printed with vegetable inks.

Most confectionery launches (63%) are, however, packaged in plastic, according to Innova’s global insights. Recycling is the leading claim on confectionery product launches. Yet, despite plastics’ widespread presence, plastic-free packaging claims have the fastest growth, and bio-based material use shows favourable interest, too, signalling the potential end to plastic confectionery packaging.

Confectionery brands also opt for a mix of paper and plastic in their packaging. Pez launched its Paw Patrol Candies and Dispenser product to the Brazilian market in a paper wrapper held in a plastic/paper blister made from 80% recycled PET. Frozz BT21 released its candy in Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)​ plastic packaging in Indonesia.

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Cox & Co uses flow-wrap paper packaging

Cadbury Australia meanwhile reduced its Easter egg collection’s plastic content and wastage by removing excess cardboard. Another Australian name, Allen’s, updated its lolly range by reducing its packaging’s plastic content. Similarly, after 18 months in development, Cox & Co produced flow-wrap chocolate paper packaging, creating a 100% paper flow-wrapped chocolate bar to replace its compostable plastic packaging.

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Mojave Mallows uses PCR bags for its standing pouches

In China, Mars launched its Snickers bar in December 2023, featuring individual packaging made from a mono PP material with the concept of “Designed For Recycling”. In January 2024, Mojave Mallows launched its organic marshmallow product​ in the US, packaged in PCR bags and presented in a paper-standing pouch. Ritter Sport also released its white lemon chocolate product in Germany in a plastic flat pouch with green dot certification and recyclable packaging.

In May 2024, sustainable packaging developer PulPac announced its collaboration with Danish confectionery brand Lakrids to develop eco-friendly packaging alternatives. Sustainable film producer Charter Next Generation has launched a new line of recycle-ready cavitated polyethylene (PE) films for flow wrap and confectionery applications. SSA Group also announced the launch of its new compostable packaging candy programme in Q2 of 2024. Its gummy varieties will no longer be packaged in single-use plastic but feature industrial compostable material, which biodegrades into organic biomass.

2. Smart technology ramps up personalisation

The age of personalisation is here, infiltrating the premium and gift-giving confectionery segments. Tech-led packaging merges with personalisation and customisation to see a new era of interactive and engaging confectionery experiences emerge in-store and online.

Augmented reality (AR) and QR code integration enable sweet shoppers to use their smartphones to learn about brands, products, ingredients, sourcing, and production methods. The advancing tech also allows consumers to access promotions, interactive games, immersive brand stories and exclusive content.

Sensors and microchips are prevalent today, turning static containers into smart packaging. Consumers can access real-time information about brand values and product quality, providing transparency and generating credibility and trust.

With digital printing technology, confectionery brands can create personalised packaging designs and labels with names, unique and targeted messages or images. Brands are also launching co-creation initiatives to enable consumers to engage in the design process and customise colours, patterns and images on packaging. Mars Wrigley continues to develop personalised packaging solutions, allowing US consumers to customise their M&M’s by putting their designs and messages on packaging.

Managing and monitoring the product packaging throughout the supply chain is increasingly important. Manufacturers can, for example, utilise smart labels to observe temperature and humidity levels to ensure products remain at optimal conditions during transport and storage. Confectionery leader Mondelez International launched a pilot programme in Brazil using near-field communication (NFC) technology to trial smart packaging solutions for its Lacta chocolate bars.

3. Design dichotomy: Bold versus minimal designs

Bright, bold and vibrant packaging appeals to many consumers, conveying the ‘treat yourself’ mentality and permissible indulgence trend. Minimal, clean and simple designs resonate too, communicating elegance and authenticity as part of brands’ stories. 

Chocolate and truffle collections from Le Chocolat de Francais use rainbow colours and different colour choices for variant products. For Chocoloco’s packaging, designer Rezart Bushati strived to infuse vibrancy and joy through a playful design choice.

Simple designs are becoming increasingly popular among brands as they meet consumers’ desire for transparency, clean visuals and a break from information overload. Confectionery brands opt for clean lines, muted colour palettes and high-quality finishes to communicate premiumisation.

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The packaging of Lindt's Choco Wafer Milk Chocolate and Hazlenut won an award

Nassau Candy has released new packaging for its flagship chocolate brand, Nancy Adams, marrying its traditional roots with contemporary elements. The Grocer's voting team recognised Lindt Choco Wafer Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut​, celebrating its premium packaging.

4. Flexible to maximise convenience

Functional packaging is big in 2024, with consumers calling for ease and simplicity via on-the-go, resealable and shareable confectionery products. 

Open bag launches are currently the fastest-growing packaging type for confectionery, increasing by a third since 2018, Innova’s research states. DmBio launched its Chocolate Covered Nut Mixture in Poland in January 2024, packaged in an open bag with a closing clip. Sweetwell aims to promote functionality with its resealable pouch, ensuring product freshness and convenience in compact sizes.

Flat pouches are currently the most used confectionery packaging type, with launches increasing by 21% since 2018, according to Innova. Launched in Turkey in January 2024, Haribo Phantasia comes in a plastic flat pouch. Fazer also released its Mini Remix Chocolate Sweets in Finland in January 2024 in a plastic flat pouch.

Stand-up pouches and carton boxes with convenient openings and single serving sizes are in high demand, too. Love Cocoa’s truffle products are packaged in cylindrical boxes. Standing pouch launches alone have risen by 31% since 2018. M&M’s new US product, Almond Chocolate Candies​, comes in a resealable plastic standing pouch. Buderim launched its Ginger and Coconut Bites in Australia in January 2024, housed in a resealable plastic standing pouch.

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