The 5 Fastest-Growing Candy Segments


Chewy candy has seen an 83% increase in sales over the past five years, while the fun-size, premium, functional and seasonal chocolate segments are also showing brisk sales, according to Chicago-based Mintel’s Global New Products Database review of the candy category.

The growth of fun-size candy is driven by consumers’ desire for portion control. As much as 75% of consumers say single-serve, bite-sized chocolate is a good vehicle for regulating consumption. Meanwhile, 76% of chocolate buyers say it’s well worth it to pay more for premium chocolate.

Big picture, total U.S. retail sales of chocolate confections are estimated to have grown 15% since 2012, reaching $18.5 billion in 2018, according to Mintel, noting that seasonal chocolate is the fastest-growing segment.

“While bite-sized chocolate gets credit for being a good way to limit consumption, the munchability and shareability of mini-sized products might actually make the form a good way to drive increased consumption with consumers reaching for an extra handful,” said John Owen, senior food and drink analyst for Mintel.

Click through for a look at five of the fastest-growing segments in the candy category.

1. Fun size

hershey cocoa kisses

Mintel said that 49% of U.S. chocolate buyers are most likely to acquire more chocolate in mini-size bars or bites. Although 90% of chocolate buyers agree it’s okay to indulge occasionally in chocolate, 63% say it’s important to limit chocolate consumption. Along its mini lines, Hershey recently introduced Hot Cocoa Kisses, marking the brand’s first seasonal Kisses release in a decade. The variety features milk chocolate and marshmallow-flavored cream to evoke the sensation of consuming a cup of cocoa.

Photography courtesy of The Hershey Co.

2. Premium

alter eco dark chocolate smalls

While nostalgia has 63% of chocolate buyers reaching for the same kinds of chocolate that they did growing up, there’s an opportunity for innovative premium varieties to own a larger share of the market as three-quarters of buyers say it’s worth it to pay a little more for premium chocolate. That’s good news for Alter Eco’s Dark Chocolate Smalls. Crafted with organic cacao beans hand-harvested on the Ecuadorian Coast and finished by expert Swiss chocolatiers, Dark Chocolate Smalls come in Sea Salt, Burnt Caramel and Blackout flavors, as well as a limited-edition holiday pack that contains all three varieties. Hitting shelves in early 2019, Dark Chocolate Smalls come in 10-count recyclable boxes.

Photography courtesy of Alter Eco

3. Functional

good day chocolate

Consumers are increasingly seeking out chocolate products that offer functional benefits, such as “good” fats (30%) and added protein (18%), according to Mintel. Good Day Chocolate fills the bill with a portfolio of chocolate SKUs packed with supplements in fair-trade dark or milk chocolate options. The company was established in 2010 when a physician began crafting lollipops with functional doses of common medications for patients before branching out to chocolate processing.

4. Seasonal


Sales of seasonal chocolate is expected to reach $3.9 billion in 2018 after registering 29% growth since 2012. In yet another launch inspired by hot chocolate, Hot Cocoa M&M’s from Mars Wrigley Confectionery arrived in stores as part of a limited-edition release. The variety features milk chocolate layers filled with white chocolate marshmallow cream.

Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Chewy

torie howard chewie fruities

Chewy candy is the fastest-growing segment of the $8 billion nonchocolate segment, estimated to reach $4.3 billion in 2018 for a 36% increase over six years, according to Mintel. This January, Starburst from Mars Wrigley Confectionery is releasing Starburst Duos, colorful fruit chews that combine two flavors into one square-shaped candy. Two flavor combinations are Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Strawberry Watermelon. And Torie & Howard debuted a three-tier countertop display holding 54 Chewie Fruities stick packs, including 18 packs each of Sour Berry, Sour Apple and California Pomegranate & Sweet Freestone Nectarine flavors. The display stands 17.5 inches high, with a 6- by 10-inch footprint.

Photograph courtesy of Torie & Howard​