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NCA report highlights confectionery resiliency during pandemic

candy
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) released its annual State of Treating report detailing analysis of the U.S. confectionery category during an unprecedented year. The report found the sales of chocolate, candy, gum and mints hit $36.7 billion, showing resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In partnership with Blommer Chocolate Co., the 2021 report was released during NCA’s virtual State of the Industry Conference on March 9 and combines shopper insights and sales results to provide a dynamic and comprehensive look at the confectionery industry and the special connection that consumers have with chocolate, candy, gum and mints.

“When we debuted the 2020 State of Treating report at the beginning of March last year, we never could have imagined the tectonic shift in consumer behaviors and the retail landscape that was about to occur,” said John Downs, NCA president and CEO. “This year’s report offers an important insight: people turn to chocolate and candy as a special way of bringing us together and play a critical role in finding safe and creative ways to stay connected to those we care about.”

According to the report, confectionery is the fifth-largest grocery category. Chocolate rang up $15.2 billion in sales, followed by non-chocolate at $7.9 billion and gums and mints at $3 billion. NCA predicts category sales to increase to $39.5 billion by 2025.

Key trends from the report include:

  • Sales of chocolate grew 4.2% and non-chocolate grew by 2.9%.
  • 77% of consumers feel that good emotional well-being leads to better physical health and makes it possible to enjoy life and be happier.
  • 61% of shoppers changed up their confectionery purchasing patterns during the pandemic.
  • 41% of people bought more value packs with individually-wrapped treats.
  • Households purchasing chocolate and candy online at least twice in 2020 increased 76%, and the annual online dollars per buyer increased by 14.3%.

“Amidst the uncertainty this year, the confectionery category has remained resilient—which is a true testament to how chocolate and candy remain an important aspect of our collective emotional well-being,” Downs said. “Whether it’s a quick escape for parents from the chaos of balancing work from home with virtual school, a celebration of a milestone moment or simply sending a treat to a friend from afar, chocolate and candy have helped Americans stay connected even when we couldn’t be together.”

The release of the 2021 State of Treating report coincides with the second year of NCA’s “Thrive in 2025” five-year strategic plan that outlines NCA’s goals, such as strengthening its advocacy and communications capabilities, identifying the disruptive trends of the future, and developing positive and meaningful thought leadership for the industry. Specific objectives also include a long-term focus on sustainability; addressing supply chain issues including cocoa and child labor; and addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry.

Food & Beverage Insider’s Permissible indulgence: Strategies for better-for-you confectionery – digital magazine recently examined suppliers, formulators and finished goods brands are bringing innovative ingredients, formats and sustainability efforts to the confectionery space, helping to take some of the guilt out of these guilty pleasures.

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