WASHINGTON — New and unusual spices and flavors, comfort foods and bite-sized portions are trends the National Confectioners Association sees as currently driving innovation in the $33 billion confectionery industry.
“In 2013, confectionery and snacks are spicing up life,” said Larry Graham, president of the N.C.A. “We’ve seen tangy flavors in sweets and snacks before, but the variations are becoming more daring each year. Consumers are excited by new flavors and formulas, and the confectionery and snacks industries have obliged. We’re looking across borders and cultures for inspiration, we’re borrowing flavors historically not found in the category, and we’re taking consumers along for a wild and satisfying ride.”
The top trends include the N.C.A. has identified include:
• Hot flavors such as chipotle, picante and jalapeno. Products introduced with this trend in mind include American Gourmet Group’s Chipotle Dairy Chocolate Bar, Seth Greenberg’s Authentic Southwest Jalapeno Crunch from Brownie Crunch. Rocky Mountain Popcorn’s Chile Picante Poplets is an example of such a snack.
• Comfort foods are popular and innovative, including Hammond’s Milk Chocolate Red Velvet Bar from Hammond’s Candies and Ardene Cookies’ Butterscotch Peanut Butter cookies.
• Bite-sized portions are hitting a spot with consumers, including Kit Kat Minis from The Hershey Co. and Starburst Minis from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.
• There has been a return to classic products with a new spin with products such as Bazooka Candy Brand’s Ring Pop Gummies.
• Nontraditional ingredients are showing up in products such as Flamous Brand’s Sprouted Multigrain Zatar Chips and I Heart Keenwah’s Chocolate Sea Salt Quinoa Clusters.
• Decadence goes to new heights with Dove Chocolate’s Cookies and Crème and Mint and Dark Chocolate Swirl bars as well as Russell Stover’s S’more Big Bite Bar.
• Some flavors and tastes are all together new for the category, including Van Holten’s Big Papa Dill Pickle Popcorn and BLK Corp.’s Caoni Milk Chocolate with Passion Fruit.
Overall, the confectionery industry has grown to $32.8 billion in 2012 from $27.4 billion in 2007. According to Datamonitor’s Consumer’s Product Launch Analytics, there were 765 new confectionery products introduced in 2012, with 423 of those being chocolate, 302 being sugar confectionery and 40 being gum products. There were also 2,183 new snack, cookie and cracker products introduced during the year, including 310 cookie, 188 cracker, 283 potato chip, 102 popcorn, 178 nuts and seeds, 451 cereal bars, 522 other savory snacks, and 149 processed snack products.