- More than 90% of Americans say they intend to gift or share chocolate and candy during the holiday season, according to the National Confectioners Association.
- With such interest in sweets this time of year, the National Confectioners Association is offering digital resources and tools on its Winter Holidays Central website, which provides statistics, tips and festive facts to help consumers responsibly consume treats as they celebrate the winter holidays.
- According to Winter Holidays Central, there will be more options than ever before for packages with 200 calories or less this holiday season. But regardless of how many calories are in it, most people in the U.S. enjoy chocolate and candy two to three times per week.
It’s tough for consumers to resist chocolate, candy and sugary treats during the holidays. This time of year is when treating oneself along with family and friends is considered a seasonal activity rather than an indulgence. So it's rather timely that the NCA and chocolate manufacturers are introducing new resources this winter to help shoppers make more informed choices by looking at portion sizes and package labeling.
Promoting reasonable indulgence wrapped up in a package of holiday history and facts is not a new idea for the NCA. The association produces similar dashboards for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter and National Candy Month — which is June — to inform consumers seeking to manage their sugar intake without missing out on any of the holiday cheer.
The mindset of gifting edible treats during the holidays is reflected year after year. Classic holiday gifts include premium chocolate candy, candy canes, chocolate Santas, peppermint bark and other sweet treats. Last year's data from Packaged Facts found that 54% of consumers who bought food as gifts in the past year did so during the winter holidays — Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
Sweets are a perennially popular choice during this period of the year, and their popularity is growing. More than a third of U.S. adults (39%) purchased chocolate candy from seasonal sections in stores in 2016, up from 27% in 2014, according to a story on the 11th edition of Packaged Facts's Chocolate Candy Market in the U.S. report. And that growth continues all year round. The U.S. chocolate market is expected to surpass $20 billion by 2025, according to research from U.K.-based firm IndexBox.
With this winter season being a traditional opportunity to sell sweets, manufacturers are pulling out all the stops. Food companies launch new limited edition products and campaigns, such as the new Oreo playable turntable and Coke's scented tube station. Promotions appear both in-store and on social media to entice consumers to deviate from their grocery lists and pick up a little something extra. The hashtag #holidaytreats has more than 115,000 posts on Instagram, and companies like Mars, Barry Callebaut and Cadbury are promoting fun ways to offer chocolate gifts for Secret Santa exchanges and festive sweet options for all occasions this holiday season.
During the season when consumers are encouraged to treat themselves, it will be interesting to see if many will use NCA's website offering tips to enjoy in moderation.
Manufacturers would do well to take note of the popularity of small packs for the holiday season. Producing more options in smaller packaging could increase sales and also provide an opportunity to promote luxury chocolate at an affordable price point. More food and beverage makers have been looking to sell premium chocolate as the trend has grown. According to Mechtronics, chocolate sales are responsible for half of the U.S. confectionery market, and the luxury segment is experiencing particularly significant growth. That’s good news for consumers looking for stocking stuffers, where the NCA reports treats are the most popular options. Foil-wrapped chocolates are the most popular choice, followed by candy canes and small boxes of chocolates.