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Confectionery made the headlines for all the wrong reasons last week when the Association of Convenience Stores released its 2023 Crime Report. Among all the interesting facts and figures, the report highlighted the fact that confectionery was the third most commonly stolen item – behind meat and alcohol. It might appear, from that, that confectionery is not the affordable treat it once was. Indeed, sugar prices have rocketed over the past year or so – apparently sugar production is very labour intensive. However, despite challenging economic times, the sugar confectionery market has grown by 9.9% over the past year, according to Circana data.

Clare Newton, trade marketing executive at Swizzels, says this is a great sign that the category has become a staple within consumers’ lifestyles and shows how important it is for retailers to stock a complete range of sweet treats.

“The sugar confectionery market is in growth at a steady pace on the account of the high demand from consumers. Introduction of new products with innovative flavours, along with the increase in gifting trends, are expected to further drive the demand in the near future.”

And Newton says one effect of the cost-of-living crisis is paying dividends for confectionery: “The sugar confectionery trend of enhancing at-home leisure occasions is being heightened by the cost-of-living crisis, making sweets an affordable treat for consumers, which positively impacts sales and boosts the market.”

Obviously a bag or two of sweets to share with the family in front of the TV is much more affordable than a family trip to the cinema.

Product family

swizzels range

Newton adds: “Sugar confectionery remains one of the most popular categories for consumers to treat themselves – purchasing a well-loved sweet treat is an affordable solution for consumers who are still looking to engage in the same buying habits that they had before the onset of these challenges. Well-established and much-loved brands that offer delicious treats at affordable prices continue to be a preferred choice for shoppers.

“We’ve found that stocking a full range of products within a specific ‘product family’, in particular price-marked packs, influences consumers’ willingness to make an impulse purchase within the category.”

While value is definitely key, Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelēz International, says own label products have lost share in the chocolate and candy categories as consumers increasingly gravitate towards brands that they recognise and trust.

“Recent circumstances have increased sales of confectionery multipacks,” she adds. “Multipacks offer shoppers a convenient and cost-effective way to purchase their treats in advance; they’re most often bought as part of a scheduled shopping trip by consumers looking ahead, rather than those buying on impulse when out and about.”

Affordable treat

fruitella jellies

Mark Roberts, marketing and trade marketing director at Perfetti Van Melle, describes sugar confectionery as a resilient category that delivers “lifts and treats” for its consumers.

“As we continue into a challenging economic landscape, confectionery remains an affordable treat giving retailers a compelling sales generator.

“Our focus is on driving choice and by helping to signpost within the category, consumers can easily find a treat for any occasion. As we further develop our product portfolio, we continue to bring a wide range of products to consumers with new flavours, packaging and textures.”

Perfetti Van Melle’s latest development comes from its Fruittella brand which is expanding into the jellies market with Fruittella Curiosities. There are two themed packs: ‘By the Sea’ features fish, starfish and crab shapes in lemon, orange and strawberry flavours while ‘In the Snow’ contains a mixture of penguins, polar bears and walruses that taste of blackberry, raspberry and strawberry.

The non-HFSS jellies are made with 30% reduced sugar, real fruit juice and natural colourings and flavours. Rrp is £1.50 per pack.

Meanwhile, earlier this year Nestlé launched a Rowntree’s non-HFSS range of sharing gummy sweets. The range – Berry Hearts, Safari Mix, Gummy Bears and Jelly Snakes – is made with real fruit juice and 30% less sugar than other Rowntree’s sweets plus has no artificial flavourings, colourings or sweeteners. To make the sweets, Nestlé used soluble corn fibre which allows a reduction in the amount of sugar and increases the product’s fibre content compared to traditional sugar confectionery. Initially launched in major supermarkets, the range is now available to independents from Nisa, Sugro and Unitas.

Sour power

hancocks sour

Hancocks is encouraging retailers to keep an eye on social media trends and stock up on sweets being made famous by TikTok.

The confectionery wholesaler says sour sweets have been named as the top trending confectionery item, with many social media users trying to get their hands on the sourest sweets they can find.

Hancocks stocks sour sweets from some of the biggest names in confectionery from around the world. Among them are Warheads and Toxic Waste, which specialise in super-sour sweets at pocket-money prices.

Popular lines include Warheads Super Sour Thumb Dippers which come in strawberry, apple and blue raspberry flavours and Warheads Super Sour Trio Gel Wheel, a sour fruit flavoured gel candy.

Favourites from Toxic Waste include Toxic Waste Yellow Tubs, which are packed with sweets in five ultra-sour flavours: apple, watermelon, lemon, blue raspberry and cherry.

Other sour products that are currently selling well at Hancocks include Bazooka Xtreme Juicy Drop Gummies. Each pack contains gummies that customers can fill with the super sour gel pen to create a tasty treat. The Barratt Wham Extreme Bar is a super sour version of the Barratt Wham Chew Bar, with the raspberry flavour chew scattered with super sour crystals. Meanwhile, Sweet Bandit Ooze Tubes are sour candy liquid packed in a squeezy tube.

Kathryn Hague, head of marketing at Hancocks, says: “Sour flavours have always been a popular choice for independent retailers looking to appeal to younger customers. Now they’re able to choose from some of the biggest brands and most exciting confectionery from around the globe.”

A sour flavour is included in Swizzels latest launch. New Minions Sherbet Dips come in three flavours: Fizzy Orange, Sour Apple and Tangy Berry.

Berry nice

extra refreshers

Meanwhile, Mars Wrigley is cashing in on the fact that strawberry is the most popular flavour within fruity confectionery and is also the flavour responsible for the most category-wide repeat purchases (Nielsen and Kantar data). Its latest launch Sugar Free Extra Refreshers Strawberry Lemon combines strawberry with a lemon twist.

Hannah Lee, senior brand manager for Extra, comments: “New shoppers account for more than 80% of fruit gum growth and, at present, fruit gum is growing faster than mint, with 23% growth year-on-year (Kantar). The launch of Strawberry Lemon Refreshers is a response to this rapid growth, combining two flavour favourites for a taste of something new.

“Innovation is key as we continue to lead the way in the category as the UK’s number one gum brand, worth £201m (Nielsen). Given the number one reason for purchasing fruit gum is for ‘fun’, this mouth-watering flavour combination is bound to attract new consumers to the Extra experience.”

The fruity gum is available in a single pack, rrp 65p and a bottle, rrp £2.75.

Say yes to fresh


Perfetti van Melle has recently launched a £1.5m above-the-line campaign to promote its Mentos Pure Fresh Gum. Running until mid-September, the campaign includes activity across peak morning, breakfast and drive time on Global Capital and Capital Xtra, as well as targeted ads via VOD, Youtube and TikTok, to increase penetration among the key Gen Z target audience.

With the strapline ‘Yes to Fresh’, the campaign showcases all five flavours of sugar-free Mentos Pure Fresh Gum and champions the new, fully recyclable paperboard bottle.

Sarah du Plessis, brand manager at Mentos, says: “Currently, Mentos Pure Fresh Gum is outperforming the chewing gum bottle growth by 47%, contributing to 19% of the total chewing gum bottle growth in the last 52 weeks (IRI). Our latest investment will build on this success and ensure that Mentos Pure Fresh remains top of mind with those looking for a burst of long-lasting, freshness.

“Through careful targeting, the campaign is expected to reach 78% of adults and deliver an estimated 40.4m impressions, meaning Mentos Pure Fresh will be more visible than ever before.”

Sweet advice

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Perfetti Van Melle advises retailers to focus on tapping into one of three key shopper missions for sugar confectionery: refreshment, indulgence (such as fruit flavours) and on the go. Mark Roberts advises:

• Stock a variety of flavours, textures and formats to offer choice across the leading brands – they provide peace of mind and always sell first

• Remember that visibility is key for sales

• Add signage and pos material for a standout fixture that builds visibility

• Counter-top units should ideally sit at arm’s reach from the main till point to drive impulse sales while front-of-store pos material that sits at eye level can capture attention and increase impulse purchases

• Talk to your rep about compelling deals such as ‘2 for1’

• Include sugar-free products in your offering