Non-chocolate candy continues to trend upward for the convenience industry, driven by innovation in the subcategory.
Non-chocolate candy dollar sales hit $2.64 billion, up 20.6%, according to market research firm IRI Total U.S. Convenience data for the 52-week period ending Dec. 26, 2021.
Mints, gum and breath fresheners saw sales gains, too. According to IRI data, mints were up 12.1% in dollar sales for the year, gum grew 5.8% and breath fresheners rose 6.2%.
Data from the National Confectioners Association (NCA) indicates that, while chocolate remained the biggest contributor, holding 58% of sales, non-chocolate was the fastest-growing segment in 2021, as consumers look for fun and unique ways to celebrate the seasons and treat themselves. NCA Senior Manager of Public Affairs Carly Schildhaus said the organization expects this momentum to continue well into 2022.
“After a year of record-setting sales across the confectionery industry,” she said, “we anticipate that consumer enthusiasm for chocolate and candy will continue to remain strong.”
Gier Oil Co.’s Eagle Stop stores, with 50-plus locations in Missouri, saw success with non-chocolate candy in 2021, said Nick Lepper, the c-store chain’s director of retail operations.
“(We) saw great growth from non-chocolate in 2021,” he said, “even in spite of the supply constraints from some of the largest brands in the segment for us.”
Candy Category Innovation
Lepper cited new products as key to candy’s continued success.
“A lot of great innovation is being focused on the subcategory — with great reason,” he noted. “Through appropriate SKU rationalization and better supply chain results, we are expecting the growth to continue.”
Indeed, the non-chocolate candy subcategory is rife with new product innovation.
Morinaga’s Hi-Chew brand recently released ‘Fantasy Mix,’ with flavors rainbow sherbet, blue Hawaii and blue raspberry. Haribo’s Goldbears packages now come with blue raspberry-flavored party hats for its 100th anniversary, plus limited-edition single-flavor varieties in pineapple and blue raspberry. Mars Wrigley’s Skittles brought back its lime flavor after an eight-year absence. Plus, Starburst Airs hit the scene, with a brand-new, inflated texture.
Non-chocolate candy packaging innovation abounds, too.
Ferrero’s Tic Tac launched limited-edition packs featuring positive messages. Ferrara’s Nerds Twist & Mix packaging allows consumers to twist the lid to mix and match their favorite combination of flavors. And Perfetti Van Melle’s Mentos Pure Fresh Gum now comes in an innovative new bottle that’s 90% paperboard and certified recyclable.
Not to mention, c-stores like Casey’s, 7-Eleven and Love’s are offering an increasing selection of proprietary items, including candy, to provide increased value for customers, while setting themselves apart with a distinct product offer.