Ferrara hitting the sweet spot
Related reading: Ferrara hitting the sweet spot

Top flavors and formats

At the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held in May, top trends included big, bold flavors and barks, brittles and bites. Russell Stover Candies, the largest producer of boxed chocolates in the United States and a leader in seasonal confections, is expanding its presence on retail shelves year-round with a new line of snackable options, such as pistachio bark, crunchy caramel bark, double-dipped pretzels with sea salt, and chocolate-coated bites in such flavors as pomegranate, orange and blueberry.

Another top trend is chocolate and fruit combinations, sales of which have increased 116% in the last three years, said Susan Whiteside, vice-president of public relations and marketing communications for the Washington-based National Confectioners Association.

“We’re seeing a large number of innovative fruit and nut products and unusual pairings,” she added. “It’s not just chocolate-covered blueberries anymore, though that’s certainly very popular, but (product developers are) really thinking about flavor combinations that pair really well together.”

Chocolate and fruit combinations, confectionery
Sales of chocolate and fruit combinations have increased 116% in the last three years.

Sales of premium chocolate in the past three years have increased 56%, driven in part by flavor innovation and perceived health benefits associated with dark chocolate. Recent innovations feature the finest ingredients, Ms. Whiteside said.

“We’ve seen a lot of sea salt in the last couple of years, but now we’re seeing pink Himalayan sea salt,” she noted.