WASHINGTON — Price increases supported strong retail confectionery sales in 2022, with category sales reaching $42.6 billion, up from $36.9 billion in 2021, according to the National Confectioners Association. The sales data was provided by the market researcher Euromonitor and showed, by category, chocolate retail sales were $23.9 billion in 2022 followed by non-chocolate at $15.4 billion, and gum and mints sales at $3.2 billion.

Supporting data from IRI, Inc., Chicago, showed in tracked channels that chocolate sales were $18.2 billion in 2022, up 9.1% from 2021; non-chocolate sales were $10.3 billion, up 13.8%; and gum and breath fresheners sales were $3.6 billion, up 13.8% for the 52-weeks ended Jan. 1, 2023. On a unit basis, sales of chocolate products fell 4.2% in 2022, non-chocolate product sales fell 0.2%, and gum and breath freshener unit sales ticked up 0.8%.

A survey of 1,567 consumers between the ages of 18 and 75 conducted by 210 Analytics, LLC, San Antonio, highlighted some of the trends supporting the category. For example, consumers buy confectionery items in three to four different channels led by supercenters/mass merchandisers and supermarkets. Eight percent of consumers only buy confectionery online while 32% buy both online and in brick and mortar.

Thirty-two percent of consumers are unsure what constitutes an appropriate amount of chocolate or candy to eat at one time. When attempting to determine an appropriate portion size, consumers mostly look at total calories (28%) and total sugar (22%). Ninety percent of the consumers surveyed said they are interested in calorie and portion information, according to 210 Analytics.

Innovation, whether in the form of new products or line extensions, drive confectionery category engagement. Sixty-one percent of the consumers surveyed are “occasionally or frequently looking” for confectionery products they have not had before.