From chewy to sweet: how consumers’ location shapes their gummy preferences

By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

- Last updated on GMT

Preference for gummy taste and texture varies across Europe. Image: Getty/SondraP
Preference for gummy taste and texture varies across Europe. Image: Getty/SondraP

Related tags Gummy vegan Cargill Sustainability consumer insights plant-based Candy

There’s no one-size-fits-all all formulation for the European market when it comes to gummies, finds a new study. Here’s how consumers choose their chews

What happens when you take 450 omnivore and vegan consumers across Germany, Spain and the UK and feed them six prototype gummies?

Well, what you don’t get is many universals. Indeed, as the study conducted by ingredient major Cargill in May 2024 discovered, each nationality has a preference for texture, flavour and formulation.

The six strawberry-flavoured gummy formats compared various texturisers including starch, pectin, carrageenan as well as the industry-standard texturiser – animal-derived gelatin – to see which consumers preferred. Here’s what the researchers discovered.

1. Shoppers want plant-based gummies

The research found that more than 60% of UK, 70% of Germans, and 85% of Spanish consumers are interested in plant-based gummies and associate plant-based with healthier ingredients. “There is a real desire for consumers to try to eat more plant-based moving forward,” says Quentin Schotte, Convenience & Snacks Marketing Manager at Cargill.

There’s a growing pressure therefore, for manufacturers, to move away from animal-derived gelatin. The transition is already in motion in the confectionery industry, with Cargill noting that many manufacturers of gummies, jellies, and chewing gum, have already stopped using gelatin in favor of plant-based alternatives.

Data around the use of alternatives plays this out. For example, in 2023, the use of plant-based starch was up 25% in launches in the European Union market compared to 2018 figures.

Plant-based gelatin and pectin, however, dropped in usage over the five years, lowering by 4% and 2%, respectively although Cargill puts these decreases down to supply chain disruptions, namely bottlenecks. 

“Moving forward, we expect that all plant-based texturisers will continue to show healthy growth,” says Schotte.

2. They want clear labelling

If a confectionery product is plant-based, consumers want clear labelling front of pack finds data from market research firm Innova Market Insights, noting that plant-based and vegan claims are the fastest growing labelling trend in sugar confectionery launches. “The number of launches is still relatively small, but it’s growing at a very fast rate,” says Schotte.

3. Texture and flavour preferences varied significantly 

In Spain, plant-based texturisers were the preferred choice, while the UK cohort perceived plant-based texturisers to perform on par with the gelatin variety. Meanwhile the German gummy tasters agreed that gelatin was their preferred texturiser.

Spanish consumers preferred their gummies to be chewable and non-sticky, the UK wanted the jelly product to be slippy and a little chewable, while German consumers favoured a springy and slippery texture.

4. Geography affects favoured flavour profile

A gummy’s texture is not only about how it feels to touch, chew and consume – it impacts flavour too. Variations between countries are even more pronounced when it comes to flavour.  In Spain, consumers liked an intense and sweet flavour, best served by the texturiser pectin. For British consumers, a fruity and lingering aftertaste won, meaning starch and pectin plant-based texturisers were the preference, while in Germany, a balanced sweetness was consumers’ most popular flavour. However, while Germany, Spain, and the UK significantly differ in their gummy texture and flavour preferences, Cargill found that vegan and omnivore consumers savour the same flavour and texture properties no matter what their nationality.


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