Who Chew? Gummy Snack Trends Feed Big Business

Posted in Millennials on February 6, 2017

When it comes to snack trends that stick around, chewy candy is high on the list. Chewy candy not only satisfies the American consumer’s sweet tooth; it also helps satisfy foodservice operators’ appetite for sales. Though chocolate maintains the lead as a sales generator, chewy candy ate up nearly $3.3 billion in sales in the 52 weeks ending March 20, 2016, and saw a 6.5% increase in dollar sales from 2015.1

brandHeaderSourPatch.jpgParticularly popular among millennials (85% of candy-eating consumers aged 1824 eat gummies2), chewy candy is becoming more experimental to increase its appeal with this adventurous, innovation-hungry demographic. While many snackers remain stuck on fruit flavors, savory profiles including sour, spice and herb are making inroads into the jelly bean market and more adult-oriented brands.

How Sweet (and Sour!) It Is

Peter van Paridon, global industry director of food and beverage at Corbion Purac, foresees  growth in bold flavor fusions and iterations. “Extremely sour candy, sweet and sour combinations, salty options and exotic tastes don’t necessarily have mass market appeal right now,” Paridon said, “but are launching successfully and giving more adventurous consumers completely new experiences.” 1

Sour flavors have hit the sweet spot among fruit-flavored confections, outpacing total non-chocolate segment growth by four times.1 According to Jennifer Moling, marketing manager for Morinaga America, “sour flavors, and unwrapped bite-sized candies in smaller, more convenient and travel-friendly packages, are examples of innovations that continue to gain popularity.”1

Ready, Set, on the Go

To ride the tide of on-the-go foodservice trends, manufacturers are developing packaging that aligns with consumer demand for ease and convenience. Stand-up pouches and peg bags for chocolate and fruit-flavored candy are popular, while king-size packaging is also driving sales growth year over year.1


A major player in the category has introduced acai berry, pomegranate, draft beer and champagne in its quest to capitalize on millennial snack trends that favor bold flavors.  What’s more, a USDA-certified organic jelly bean line is poised for sweet sales in response to the better-for-you foodservice movement.1

Business Is Booming, Naturally

Expect organic gummies to continue to gain ground in 2017, as shoppers seek to balance on-the-go consumption with better-for-you attributes, from fat-free content to natural flavors to vitamin-rich fruit juices.

As Mitchell Bernstein, national sales director for Vidal Candies USA, explained: “Gummies are fat-free alternatives, and that’s one of the strong points of the segment. If shoppers believe that an item is a little healthier, they’ll stick with it.”3

The gummy market has seen consistent growth in new product launches, from 31% in 2010 to a projected 37% in 2016,2 some of which has been driven by the transformation of traditional confectionery gummies into a popular source of vitamin and mineral supplements.

Texture and mouthfeel have also become important. As Moling explained, based on research and global market experience, "longer-lasting chewy texture delivers not only an enjoyable snacking experience, but also deep brand loyalty.”1 While innovation is typically associated with new flavors and packaging formats, texture can be instrumental in differentiating products in a crowded category and increasing customer satisfaction.

Do you foresee sweet sales for chewy candy at your foodservice operation in 2017? Any thoughts on how to make a higher check average stick with gummies?

1 Pacyniak, Bernie, “2016 Chewy Candy Trends,” Candy Industry, May 25, 2016
2 FONA International, The Fun and Fabulous World of Gummies, Nov. 9, 2015
3 Candy & Snack Today, “From Tiny Bears to Market Giant,” NCA, Aug. 9, 2016 

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