- Concerns about sugar's impact on health have yet to dampen consumers' sweet tooth, as candy sales in the U.S. are actually growing, about 2% to 4% over the past five years, according to Nielsen data.
- U.S. consumers purchased $21.5 billion worth of candy in the 52 weeks ended April 30, 2016, and candy is third in category growth within the U.S. grocery channel. While seasonal candy makes up a significant portion of annual sales (19% in the 52-week period), everyday treat sales are growing more than four times as fast as seasonal candy, at 2.9% growth versus 0.7%.
- Chocolate is still the preferred candy type, but the non-chocolate candy category is catching up with 4.7% sales growth in the 52-week period compared to 2% growth for chocolate sales.
Nielsen found that American consumers purchase more branded candy than private label candy.
Candy brands have built powerful connections with consumers that often date back to shoppers' childhoods. This is backed by Nielsen's findings that candy purchases are highest among families with children under age 18. According to a 2015 Canadean survey, six out of 10 global respondents find candy that reminds them of their childhood appealing or very appealing.
Candy brands have successfully balanced nostalgia with the modifications adult consumers look for in treats for themselves and their children, such as removal of artificial colors and flavors by major players like Nestle, Hershey, and Mars.
Candy manufacturers know they are not entirely immune to consumers' sugar concerns, which has prompted Nestle and Mars to commit to reducing sugar across their portfolios. But those reformulations may have to extend beyond their own supply chain: Mars is reportedly in discussions with its fast food partners about potentially reformulating or removing its candies from dessert treats, according to Reuters.