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WASHINGTON — Sweet news for the confectionery industry: total U.S. sales of Valentine’s Day candy are projected to reach $1.057 billion, a 1.6% increase from last year, according to the National Confectioners Association (N.C.A.).
Health and value are guiding candy purchases, with 28% of U.S. consumers seeking such better-for-you options as dark chocolate or nut and fruit products, and 22% buying on-sale items.
Chocolate accounts for about 75% of seasonal sweets sold. Traditional flavors top popular selections, with more than a third of consumers favoring caramel-filled from a box of bonbons. But unusual innovations are shaking up treat trends.
Savory flavors, nontraditional shapes and bite-size confections are redefining the global chocolate market, according to a recent report from Innova Market Insights, Duiven, The Netherlands. Social and health consciousness have become increasingly important to chocolate lovers, with ethical and sustainability-driven purchases on the rise, in addition to more no-added-sugar products and an emphasis on cocoa beans and country of origin.Other product development trends in the confectionery market, according to Innova research with Cargill Chocolate & Cocoa, include more sensible packaging to eliminate waste, a growing interest in artisanal and homemade chocolates, protein inclusions and stealthy reductions in sodium, sugar and fat.