It’s time to celebrate.
Not that any of us in the candy industry need a reason to make merry. Just about every day is a party when your job is to produce, sell, or in our case, write about candy.
But now that we’ve entered June, there are many causes for celebration. Summer is nearly upon us, and in many locations throughout America, it feels like the season has already arrived. Of course, that means opportunities to grill outdoors, visit the beach or pool, or hit the road on family vacations. And, some of the best festivals are set in the summer, especially those that involve craft beer.
June is also National Candy Month. While it’s a great excuse to savor some of our favorite treats, it also offers an opportunity to reflect on some of the positive trends and developments in our industry.
But first, some data. In honor of National Candy Month, the U.S. Census Bureau compiled and featured statistics in relation to U.S. candy sales and consumption. Some facts to note:
- Americans consume about 22 pounds of candy year-round, much of it is chocolate.
- There are about 1,360 domestic firms making chocolate and cocoa products worth $16 billion a year.
- Another 493 locations make non-chocolate confections selling $10 billion a year.
- Together, there are more than 61,000 Americans employed in manufacturing sweets and treats.
- There are some 3,200 specialty shops across the nation selling nuts and candy confections.
- Over 2.2 million metric tons of chocolate are imported annually to satisfy America's sweet tooth.
Those are pretty impressive statistics, but it doesn’t stop there. First, comes recent news the National Confectioners Association and several major manufacturers have been shouting from the rooftops — and rightfully so.
Last month, Mars Chocolate, Wrigley, Nestlé USA, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Russell Stover, and Ferrara Candy Co. pledged to make half of their individually-wrapped products contain 200 calories or fewer by 2022. Furthermore, calorie information will be printed on the front of 90 percent of best-selling treats made by those companies.
The manufacturers, along with the nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), announced the commitments at the PHA’s Building a Healthier Future Summit. PHA, in conjunction with research organization Hudson Institute, will also be responsible for independent, third-party progress reporting.
And, two weeks prior to the Big Candy announcement, Hershey announced plans to update front-of-pack calorie labels and make more of its standard- and king-sized items with 200 calories or fewer. However, the company did not discuss working with PHA.
The PHA announcement is important to note, for a couple reasons. Cross-industry collaboration is not easy, particularly when it involves major companies that don’t always have the flexibility to quickly change course. Furthermore, standing together on a health-based issue shows the industry is acknowledging consumers’ needs and is willing to meet them. That’s a big step toward longevity in customer relationships and the industry as a whole.
Another positive is the projection of future growth. In the 11th edition of “Chocolate Candy Market in the U.S.,” Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, projected U.S. candy sales will top $40 billion in 2019. Chocolate is expected to occupy 60 percent of the market, with $24.06 billion.
Not shockingly, the confectionery ingredient market is projected to experience growth, too. Albany, N.Y.-based firm Transparency Market Research reported the global confectionery ingredients market will likely reach $109.48 billion by 2025. The sector — which includes chocolate and cocoa, sugar, dairy ingredients, emulsifiers and sweeteners — is projected to see a compound annual growth rate of 4.2 percent over the next eight years from $76.25 billion in 2016.
Those are not small figures by any means, but progress can be measured in other ways. Each year, Candy Industry conducts an Ingredient & Equipment Trends Survey. We ask our readers to answer questions regarding new equipment purchases, new product development and other areas to learn where their focus lies.
According to this year’s study, which we’ll discuss in greater detail in an upcoming issue, half of the respondents plan to spend more on packaging and processing equipment in 2017 than they did in 2016. Just over 20 percent of respondents plan to spend more on logistics equipment this year than last year.
Product innovation is also a sign of forward motion. Nearly two-thirds of responding companies introduced 1 to 5 products over the last 12 months, and 44 percent plan on introducing 1 to 5 new products in the next 12 months.
Given the turnout for the New Products Showcase at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 23-35 at the McCormick Place in Chicago, that’s not a surprise. Companies submitted nearly 370 entries for judging, up from more than 300 in 2016.
It’s inspiring to see so much moving and shaking. Not only is it good for business now, but it means the industry is looking to the future. Hopefully, these trends will continue, making next year’s National Candy Month even sweeter.