7 Sweet Additions to Candy Sets

Blurry candy

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has released a data-driven research report that delves into consumer trends, shopper insights and sales results.

The “Sweet Insights: State of Treating 2020” report is heralded as a first-of-its-kind deep dive into “the special nature and relationship of chocolate, candy, gum and mints in the American household,” the association said. It represents a new strategic plan called “Thrive in 2025” that outlines new goals for Washington, D.C.-based NCA, including strengthening its advocacy and communication capabilities, identifying disruptive trends of the future and developing positive and meaningful thought leadership, said John Downs, NCA president and CEO.

There’s a built-in advantage at work, considering chocolate and candy boast 99% penetration in American homes, with more than $37 billion in sales annually. That’s expected to grow by 2.4% by 2024, said the report, produced by the NCA and third-party firm 210 Analytics.

Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president for client insights for Chicago-based IRI, said the report can act as a “recipe for growth” for the confectionery industry if NCA members are able to pick up on four key mega-trends:

Well-being. Consumers, while expecting chocolate to contain sugar, are demanding better information on packaging, including calorie counts and organic, gluten-free or vegan ingredient profiles.

Social responsibility. Sixty-two percent claim that the way a company or brand “behaves” has an impact on their purchases.

Environmental sustainability. Consumers are increasingly asking questions about how products affect the planet. Does the product harm the planet? What about waste and deforestation? Brands need to be ready with a legitimate reply, Wyatt said.

Transparency/traceability. More questions abound: How are chocolate bars being produced? Have cocoa farmers, the people at the beginning of the supply chain, been paid? Have any children been forced to work on the farm? In floating these queries, Wyatt said that “brands that can offer full transparency and traceability, through a QR code on the packaging, for example, are likely to be more popular, particularly with Gen Z and millennial consumers.”

In 2019 U.S. convenience store scan data, chocolate dollar sales totaled $2.93 billion, up 1.2% for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 29, 2019, according to IRI. Unit sales totaled 1.7 billion, down 3.1%. Nonchocolate products in the c-store grew dollars 4%, while units were off 1.2% for a market that amassed $2.14 billion in 2019 sales. Novelty chocolate candy saw a 3.9% boost in dollar sales and a 15.6% climb in unit sales for the same period. Sugar-free chocolate saw dollar sales grow 12.7%.

In March 2020, the announcement of several new varieties added a charge to the category: M&M’s fudge brownie flavor, reintroduced after an LTO trial during summer 2019; Dove Chocolate’s new Silky Smooth Pudding & Pie Filling, which are pudding mixes that come in four varieties and are modeled after some of the brand’s iconic chocolate flavors; and Cadbury's naming of a two-legged dog named Lieutenant Dan as its 2020 Easter Bunny after a contest involving more than 4,000 submissions.

Read ahead for a snapshot of seven additional and recent convenience-store chocolate and nonchocolate confection debuts during the first quarter.

Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Mondelez


Chocolate-maker Hershey collaborated with Mondelez’s Chips Ahoy Cookies to debut two new cookie varieties, one with mini Reese’s Pieces and the other with Hershey milk chocolate chunks. Chips Ahoy made with mini Reese’s Pieces merges a crunchy Chips Ahoy Cookie with miniature Reese’s Pieces peanut butter chocolate candies. It has 150 calories and 9 grams of sugar per two-cookie serving. The new cookies are available for an SRP of $2.95 per 9.5-ounce pack.

Photograph courtesy of Mondelez

2. Ferrara

rope bites

SweeTarts from Ferrara is infusing innovation into its Soft & Chewy Ropes candy line with the launch of SweeTarts Twisted Rainbow Punch Ropes and SweeTarts Twisted Mixed Berry Ropes Bites. The Twisted Rainbow Punch Ropes take the classic sweet and tart flavor fusion a step further by bringing in a swirl of vibrant hues. Each multicolored, twisted rope offers a rainbow fruit punch flavor mix with matching tart filling to create “bendable fun.” The new offer is available in four sizes: 3-ounce peg bag, 3.5-ounce share pack (SRP $1.99), 5-ounce medium peg (SRP $2.49) and 9-ounce package (SRP $3.49).

Photograph courtesy of Ferrara

3. Just Born


The Peeps brand from Just Born Quality Confections debuted a host of products in March, including limited-edition Peeps Marshmallow Flavored Cereal with Marshmallows from Kellogg’s; International Delight Peeps Flavored Creamer Singles; and Peeps Duncan Hines Easter-inspired creations.

Photograph courtesy of Just Born

4. Morinaga America


Morinaga America delivered Hi-Chew Sweet & Sour Mix in Watermelon and Grapefruit and Lemon flavors, then expanded the portfolio further with Hi-Chew Fruit Combos Mix, featuring Pina Colada and Tropical Smoothie flavors. The latter offered an outer layer of passion fruit combined with a juicy mango layer inside. Each chewlet features two layers of tastes to create a single fruit-forward flavor experience.

Photograph courtesy of Morinaga America

5. Asheville Hemp Project

CBD gum

Asheville Hemp Project in late February unveiled its CBD Mint Gum, calling it ideal for high-focus activity, recovery, relief and relaxation. It is the first consumer product for the brand. Each piece of CBD Mint Gum contains 10 milligrams of CBD (cannabidiol) and no THC in a convenient foil pack to maximize freshness. A single pack contains eight pieces and is available for an SRP of $19.90. AHP selected gum as the first product launch due to gum’s efficient delivery of CBD. The supplier intends to follow up the launch with CBD premium pre-rolls and CBD tincture.

Photograph courtesy of Asheville Hemp Project

6. Smashmallow


Smashmallow expanded its roster of indulgent snacks with the launch of Smashgummys, a low-sugar gummie option. The variety is available in Fruity and Sour flavor profiles, recognizable by the brand’s iconic hot air balloon shape. The products rolled out in late February.

Photograph courtesy of Smashmallow

7. Mars


Mars Confectionery introduced its new Twix Cookies & Creme bar in late January. The twin bars feature chocolate cookie bars and a new soft-creme center with crunchy cookie bits and creamy milk chocolate. The product is available in singles (1.36 ounce), share-size (2.87 ounce) and a share-size stand-up pouch (9.7 ounce).

Photograph courtesy of Mars Confectionery