Despite two years of incredible changes, consumers are still engaging with their favorite treats
In 2021, chocolate and candy sales were up 11% over 2020, and up 15.4% over 2019 as consumers increasingly focused on seasonal celebrations, sharing and gifting, and emotional well-being, according to the third annual State of Treating report published by the National Confectioners Association. The report, released today at the 2022 State of the Industry Conference, is the definitive source for confectionery category performance data and a deeper understanding of shifting consumer attitudes and behaviors in a disrupted marketplace. The total confectionery category hit $36.9 billion in retail sales in 2021 and is projected to reach $44.9 billion in sales by 2026.
“In 2021, consumers found even more creative ways to celebrate holidays and special occasions, and they continued to turn to chocolate and candy to bring a little fun to those experiences,” John Downs, president & CEO of NCA, said. “The shift to home-centricity has meant new opportunities for confectionery companies and their retail partners as consumers seek new treating moments with new items, new pack sizes and new brands.”
Key findings from the report include:
- Sales of chocolate grew 9.2%, and non-chocolate grew by 14.5%.
- 71% of consumers mostly purchase chocolate and candy at their primary grocery store.
- 66% of consumers research candy usage occasions on social media.
- 78% of all adults believe it is perfectly fine to occasionally treat with chocolate or candy.
- 72% of consumers believe that physical health and emotional well-being are interconnected.
- 88% share with family and friends at least half the time when buying chocolate and candy.
- 72% of consumers agree that it is important for chocolate and candy brands to offer portion size variety.
- 91% of consumers report taking road trips, and of these consumers 83% sometimes or always include chocolate and candy in their travels.
The 2022 State of Treating report offers a complete picture of the resiliency of the confectionery category, explores the influence of inflation and supply chain challenges on confectionery purchases and pandemic shopping patterns and takes a closer look at the impact of social media on the category.
It also covers changing dynamics in the retail environment and presents opportunities for sustained category growth. For example, National Candy Month in June shows how manufacturers and retailers can work together to address the confectionery sales gap between Easter and Halloween and represents a $500 million incremental sales opportunity for the category. At the same time, National Candy Month presents an opportunity for the companies to speak to consumers about the important role of chocolate and candy in making summer moments like road trips and beach vacations a little more fun.
“Sales of chocolate and candy grew significantly this past year as consumers looked to prioritize their emotional well-being, and created a special and unique place for these treats in their lives,” Downs said. “A key takeaway from the report is that in contrast to rising costs for families related to inflation, health care and simply putting food on the table, candy remains a simple, affordable treat. Whether consumers found their inspiration on social media or in the grocery aisle, they reached for chocolate and candy as a means of self-care and enjoyment in an otherwise uncertain time.”