Naturally Good

Armed with a unique identity, special appeal and growing acceptance, organic confections reach out to the mainstream.
These days, the product array and distribution of organic confections mirrors that of conventional candy. New organic confections have adopted mainstream candy forms and flavor profiles.
Organic* Confectionery Sales 2004
Category $ Sales(in millions) Percent
growth
Chocolate Candy$13.867.3%
Other Candy$2.117.7%
Individual Snacks$3.22.2%
Gums & Mints$.818.7%
Total Candy and Individual Snacks$19.943.9 %
*Organic certified with 70% organic ingredients.
Source: SPINS
For children, there are organic lollipops, gummies, licorice, peanut butter cups, hard candies and much more. For discriminating chocolate lovers, there is an assortment of premium bars, including single-origin varietals. Organic mints and snack/energy bars are available as well.
Imperatives
The federal government’s National Organic Standards program boosted consumer confidence in organic products when it clarified product labeling and provided a special USDA logo to designate qualifying products two years ago. Today 54 percent of shoppers have sampled organic products, and 10 percent consume them on a weekly basis.
Marketing
Organic snacks offer parents healthy choices for their children. The health benefits of dark chocolate also help boost sales.
Consumers view organic products as premium items, so delivering on product quality and flavor is critical. A gourmet positioning makes sense. Other consumer considerations include organic’s benefits both for their health and for the environment.
The organic confectionery market (candy, snacks, and energy bars) grew 50 percent to $42.9 million last year, up from 20 percent growth the previous year.  
Seasonal and novelty offerings are among the organic candy subsets that are starting to play a bigger role, as are organic items that also carry the “fair trade” banner.  
What is more, the quality of organic products has improved significantly, thanks to the use of better quality ingredients and wider sources of supply.
Outlook
As a sign that organic products are increasing their share in conventional food sales channels, 44 percent of organic snack foods moved through mass market grocery stores, followed by 23 percent through natural foods independent grocery stores and 22 percent through natural foods grocery chains. With sales of organic products up 20 percent, major supermarket chains have decided to jump into this market with private-label products, thereby cutting into the market share of the national organic brands.
So what does the future hold for organic confections? As long as consumers associate improved quality with organic, chances are they will continue paying a premium for that cachet.