Swicy flavours set to be the hottest trend in confectionery in 2024

By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

- Last updated on GMT

The swicy trend is moving on from chilli chocolate Image: Getty/Diana Miller
The swicy trend is moving on from chilli chocolate Image: Getty/Diana Miller

Related tags Candy Npd Chocolate Confectionery Innovation

Not adding horseradish, peppercorns or chillis to your confectionery yet? Here’s why you should

Simple salt has dominated confectionery innovation for years, adding savoury notes to sweet confections. Dubbed ‘swalty’ – a portmanteau of sweet and salty – it has infiltrated every corner of the industry, most notably through the now ubiquitous salted caramel flavour and a sprinkling of sea salt in almost everything.

But there’s a new combination shaking up NPD in 2024: ‘swicy’. Building on the success of the chilli chocolate combination, swicy (sweet and spicy) encompasses a broader number of added ingredients with a kick, from peppercorns and horseradish to ginger and wasabi.

“We have always loved the combination of sweet and savoury, and ‘swicy’ has taken this to the next level,” says Vhari Russell, Founder of The Food Marketing Experts.

From ‘swalty’ emerges ‘swicy’

We only have to look at the wider food and beverage industry to see the potential of ‘swicy’ confectionery. Market research from Dataessential shows sweet and spicy menu pairings grew by 38% between 2022 and 2023, while the firm hailed ​spicy maple as the swicy flavour of 2023.

Similarly in its trends-to-watch for 2024​, The Food Institute spotlights the arrival of ‘swicy’ flavours in the ice cream market. Asian flavours, particularly Korean influences such as Korean red bean, along with Thai Pandan coconut and gochujang ice cream, are leading the way.

A new kind of confectionery shopper

Popular with both confectionery producers and shoppers, ‘swicy’ products give brands the opportunity to mix traditional taste choices with customers’ appetite to try something new. “It is becoming more popular as brands are looking to stand out from the crowd and drive consumer engagement,” Russell confirms.

Not only that but swicy launches can appeal to a confectionery audience who historically shy away from ‘anything too sweet’ and opt out of dessert in favour of savoury starters and snacks.

This is especially true among the millennial and Gen Z demographics.

The most divisive flavour since Marmite?

“There will be consumers who love it and those who hate it,” says Russell. But that might not necessarily matter from a marketing perspective. “It might be a bit Marmite for many, but it will always create a conversation that is gold for a brand, as if a consumer doesn’t like one variant they may like another,” he says.

Brands innovating in this space include Belgian-based chocolatier Dolfin which has ventured beyond its world-famous smooth and sweet notes and popped a punch with peppercorn added to its dark chocolate bars.

Bakes meanwhile combines local Vietnamese ingredients with French patisserie creations, and it has developed a mango chilli macaron. The macaron is also gluten-free and free from food colouring and chemicals, which amplifies its appeal with health-conscious consumers and confectionery enthusiasts with specific dietary needs.

Finally, taking inspiration from global travel, premium brand Vosges-Haut Chocolat has released its 32-piece chocolate truffle collection, with ‘swicy’ flavours as its hero component. The US ​chocolatier has infused its truffles with flavours from around the world, including ginger and wasabi, horseradish and hazelnuts, and ancho chillies and cinnamon.

As for the confectionery segments the ‘swicy’ trend is set to reach, Russell foresees it as “a great opportunity for bar brands to spice it up and add variety to their offering, along with filled chocolates”. Watch this space for interesting seasonal flavours and limited editions, too.  “It could make the festive chocolate offering a little spicier this Christmas,” he adds.

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