The novelty candy sector is known for inspiring innovation while constantly releasing new products.  

And while COVID-19 has made the process for launching new products a little different, that hasn’t stopped brands from putting out new confectionery items that offer a bright spot during these tumultuous times. 

Ferrara Candy Co. recently revealed three products it had intended to introduce during the 2020 Sweets and Snacks Expo, before the show was canceled due to the coronavirus, including:

Nerds Gummy Clusters: Each poppable piece offers a cluster of crunchy, tangy, mini Nerds with a gummy center to give fans a fun-to-eat, dual-texture treat! Available in the Nerds Rainbow flavor with a fruity gummy, this shareable treat is also perfect for on-the-go snacking.  

Trolli Gummi Creations: Trolli Gummi Creations, the first sour buildable gummy, has a mix of connectable sour gummy pieces in a variety of alien-themed shapes and signature Trolli sour and fruity flavors. Gummi Creations is a customizable, letting consumers create their own flavor combinations and build their own alien-themed creation.

Laffy Taffy Laff Bites - Gone Bananas: On the heels of a successful Laff Bites launch in 2020, Laffy Taffy is offering a new flavor extension in 2021 – Laff Bites Gone Bananas. One of its most popular flavors – banana – now comes in a chewy, unwrapped, poppable bite for candy lovers to enjoy! 

The Topps Company also continues to innovate in the sector. This year it launched the new Push Pop Gummy Roll, marking the first time the company had combined the Push Pop brand with a gummy confectionery. 

"For over 30 years Push Pop lollipops have been a fan favorite as a treat that's both delicious and incredibly fun to eat, and we saw an opportunity to bring that same experience to gummy candy," said Becky Silberfarb, director of marketing for Bazooka Candy Brands. "Push Pop Gummy Roll is sure to excite candy lovers everywhere!"

Novelty non-chocolate candy was down 0.4 percent to about $802 million, based on data for the year ending June 14, 2020, according to IRI, a Chicago-based research firm. So it’s nearly holding steady despite the changes in the economy. 

Overall, the Top Five companies in the non-chocolate novelty category include:

  1. Ferrara Candy Co, with $181.6 million in sales, up 5.6 percent. 
  2. The Topps Co. Inc., with $169.5 million in sales, down 0.9 percent. 
  3. Tootsie Roll Industries Inc., with $57.3 million in sales, down 11.1 percent. 
  4. Mars Inc., with $39.3 million in sales, up 1.8 percent. 
  5. Just Born Inc., with $37.3 million in sales, up 1.4 percent.

And the Top Five non-chocolate novelty candy items included:

  1. Baby Bottle Pop, with $$48.7 million in sales, up 0.8 percent. 
  2. Nerds, with $46.5 million in sales, up 38 percent. 
  3. Tootsie Roll Child's Play, with $43.2 million in sales, down 22.5 percent. 
  4. Push Pop, with $41 million in sales, up 3.5 percent. 
  5. All Mars products, with $39.3 million in sales, up 1.8 percent. 

As for novelty chocolate candy, the category did drop 3.4 percent, with about $13. million in sales, based on data for the year ending June 14, 2020, according to IRI, a Chicago-based research firm. 

Notably, the Frankford Candy LLC-Novelty Chocolate Candy company saw a 46 percent decrease in sales, to $5.2 million. 

Specifically, the company's Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Wonder Ball saw sales decrease 29.9 percent, to about $2.5 million. However, the product was still the top selling novelty chocolate candy. 

Coming in second was Nerds Rope Star Wars, with about $2.5 million in sales. Third was Ricolino Paleta Payaso, with $1.5 million in sales. Fourth was Frankford's Super Mario candy, with $1.3 million in sales. And rounding out the top five was Candyrific M&M's, with $1.3 million in sales. 

Overally, the Top Five novelty chocolate candy companies included:

  1. Frankford Candy LLC, with $5.2 million in sales, down 46 percent. 
  2. Ferrara Candy Co., with $3.6 million in sales. (No comparable data available.) 
  3. Barcel USA LLC, with $1.9 million in sales, up 10.8 percent. 
  4. Candyrific, with $1.4 million in sales, up 44.6 percent
  5. Fini Sweets Inc., with $176,144 in sales, down 25.9 percent. 

Chocolate spread market:

Non-traditional confectionery isn’t limited to novelty candy, though. The chocolate spread sector, which historically has done better in Europe, continues to grow on a global scale. 

In fact, the chocolate spreads market is expected to grow at a rate of 7.45 percent in the forecast period of 2020 to 2027. Chocolate spreads are an important breakfast component in western nations, which have been encouraging the business. Consumer desire for natural and healthful spreads and artisan confectionery commodities are stimulating increasing demand for chocolate spreads around the globe.

That’s according to the Data Bridge Market Research reportChocolate Spreads Market by Packaging Type (Bottles, Pouches, Cups and Others), Distribution Channel (Supermarkets/Hypermarkets, Convenience Stores, Online Stores, Specialist Stores, and Others)Analysis and Forecast, 2020 – 2027."

The category has benefited from a healthy halo image and multi-generational appeal, according to report. 

“The business is testifying notable increase owing to the escalating need for chocolate spreads amongst customers regardless of their generation,” the report says. “Furthermore, succeeding consciousness between users regarding the complimentary wellness consequences compared with the usage of dark chocolates is an important determinant augmenting business extension."

Internationally, chocolate spreads are expected to see growth in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) between 2020 to 2027, thanks to transforming lifestyles and breakfast patterns, which have significantly impacted the chocolate spread sales, the report says. 

Lindt has gotten into the spreads sector recently, launching a cocoa hazelnut spread in various countries around the world. The product combines real Lindt chocolate with hazelnut, enabling consumers to create a delightful dessert or snack with a full and intense flavor. 

Meanwhile, Mars also launched Hazelnut Spread M&M'S in April 2019. While not exactly a spread itself, the product's hazelnut spread fillling and chocolate shell highlights the popularity of chocolate spread such as Nutella.

In addition, Mars recently rolled out peanut butter spreads for M&M’s and Snickers at B&M stores in Europe. 

The M&M's peanut butter "brings fabulous color, extra crunch and fun to consumers with crushed peanut M&M's mixed throughout the tasty spread," according to Mars, while Snickers peanut butter mixes nuts and chocolate. 

“No longer viewed as just the perfect topping for toast, it is also a key ingredient in home baking, smoothies and of course the ideal accompaniment for an apple slice,” said Michelle Frost, Mars consumer drinks & treats GM.