Chocolate and Candy Hit The Sweet Spot

Close up of colorful candy including gummies, sours, bubble gum, licorice

Sweet Sales

Americans have a sweet spot for chocolate and candy. Holidays such as Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day are particularly popular for confections. Chocolate and candy are often associated with childhood and are seen as comforting. As consumers sought comfort during the pandemic, many reached for snacks including chocolate and candy. According to National Confectioners Association (NCA), 2020 confectionery sales hit $36.7 billion, with chocolate sales at $21.9 billion and non-chocolate sales reaching $11.5 billiona. For the 52 weeks ending May 16, 2021, IRI reported dollar sales of chocolate candy were up 6.2% while non-chocolate candy sales were up 5.3%b.

What Drives Chocolate and Candy Consumers?

Comax Flavors’ primary research of 600 U.S. respondents who consume confections including chocolate candy, soft chew candy, hard candy, and prepackaged cotton candy revealed c:

  • 65% of respondents cited “Taste” as the most important attribute for confection purchases
  • “Type of Candy” and “Price,” cited by 49% and 48% of respondents respectively, drive purchase intent
  • 45% of respondents cited “Flavor” as a purchase driver

Within the candy category, “Taste” was the number one driver for purchase intent

  • Soft Chew Candy – 71%
  • Prepackaged Cotton Candy – 68%
  • Hard Candy – 66%
  • Chocolate Candy – 58%

Comax offers a wide selection of tasty confection flavors ranging from classic to fruity to herbal. Classic chocolate and candy flavors include Candy Corn, Chocolate Pretzel, Chocolate Strawberry, and White Chocolate Cranberry. Fruity flavors run the gamut from traditional to tropical such as Alphonso Mango, Blood Orange, Blueberry Lemon Zest, Dragon Fruit Lime, Georgia Peach, Honey Pistachio, Lemon Lime, Manuka Honey, Pumpkin Ginger, Watermelon, and Watermelon Mojito. Cherry Chamomile, Lavender Mint, and Lavender and White Chocolate are a few herbal flavor directions. Interested in any of these flavors? Order a sample here. Looking for a specific confections flavor? Reach out to us.

Chocolate and Candy Brands Partner On New Applications

Like ice cream, confections brands are partnering with non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverage brands, desserts, and snacks to translate their iconic candy flavors into new applications. For example, this spring, Pepsi partnered with the iconic Peeps brand on the Pepsi x Peeps beverage, described as “a delicious new beverage that combines the crisp, refreshing taste of Pepsi cola with the pillowy-soft and sweet Peeps Marshmallow flavor.” C4 Energy and Mars Wrigley teamed up for a Starburst-inspired energy drink. The new line is available in four popular Starburst flavors: Cherry, Lemon, Orange, and Strawberry. In Europe, Dutch company Crème de la Cream developed a range of Lolly Drops water enhancers based on the most popular Chupa Chups lollipop flavors by Perfetti Van Melle. The water enhancers feature zero-sugar formulas and include Cherry, Orange, Strawberry, and Strawberry and Cream flavors. This fall, returning for the third year, Yuengling and Hershey’s have collaborated on the Hershey’s Chocolate Porter. Zola Bakes, known for its signature rainbow cookies, has teamed up with Hi-Chew on the limited-edition Hi-Chew x Zola Bakes Halloween box, which features Hi-Chew Raspberry, the brand’s latest flavor. Frankford Candy introduced Fruity Pebbles Bites (creamy white candy mixed with cereal pieces) and Cocoa Pebbles Bites (cocoa-flavored milk chocolate mixed with cereal pieces). B&G Foods has launched Twix Shakers Seasoning Blend, which combines the iconic bar’s crunchy cookie, soft caramel, and milk chocolate flavor.

Comax creates customized flavors and solutions including Clean Label and Organic for a full range of applications including Beverages, Alcohol, Dairy, Nutrition, Snacks, Savory, Confections, Baking, and Plant-Based products. Reach out to us here to partner on your next project.

Better-For-You Chocolate and Candy

Like other categories, consumers are being health conscious and looking for better-for-you confections. Fortunately, innovation abounds, and brands are responding. Low sugar formulas and the use of alternative sweeteners such as cane sugar, coconut sugar, allulose, and Monk fruit are gaining traction. Plant-based, vegan, non-GMO, and organic ingredients are also driving new product launches. In addition, confections are catering to different lifestyles such as Keto-friendly, Paleo-friendly, and gluten-free, offering a variety of formulas. Even functional ingredients are emerging in the chocolate and candy space.

Comax’s research showed that respondents wished for “healthier options,” “less sugar,” and “fewer calories” for the chocolate and candy applications in the study. Using proprietary technology, Comax Flavors offers flavor modifiers and sweetener enhancers to meet these consumer-specific product needs. Flavor modifiers create a natural mouthfeel while allowing less fat and/or calories in the product. Sweetener enhancers do a similar job when sugar content is cut, yielding products with the sweetness consumers crave. Our R&D team partners with our customers to create unique chocolate and candy flavors with better-for-you formulas. Get in touch here.




c N=600, Comax Confection Study June 2019; Chocolate Candy N=224, Soft Chew Candy N=165, Hard Candy N=164, and Prepackaged Cotton Candy N=47. Respondents allowed multiple answers within each category