Sweet trends in Canada.

In its 2022 report, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) said that non-chocolate candy (defined as gummies, chewy candy, hard candy, licorice, lollipops, and marshmallows ) was last year’s second largest-selling confectionary category, accounting for 32% of all confectionary sales.

These sweet treats rang up USD $9.2 billion in sales last year. That growth is expected to continue, with total confectionary market sales predicted to reach USD $20 billion by 2027, as reported in Convenience Store News.

This sweet trend has caught the attention of the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA). In a recent newsletter to its health-conscious subscribers, the CHFA noted that gen Z and millennials are increasingly opting for non-chocolate, better-for-you candy options, and are contributing to brand innovations in that category. The Food Institute agrees; while current sales and consumption patterns are similar across incomes, genders, ages, regions and ethnicities, category growth is predominantly driven by young adults who have been opting for healthier lifestyles – and food, beverage, and snack options – for some time.

The CHFA says that millennials – those between ages 26 and 41 – are the fastest growing generation due to immigration, and subsequently wield a great deal of spending power. For gen Z and millennials, food and brand choices are dependent on their lifestyles, beliefs, and values, according to Chef Connection. Gen Z in particular are basing their food choices on health, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability – and spend more on food and snack choices with their friends than they do on clothes.

In-store promotions used to play a significant role in candy sales; today, social media has an outsized influence. As per the NCA, “brands are creating fruity candies akin to what this demographic grew up on but with visual appeal for Instagram-able moments.” 

The CHFA’s own data found that classic fruity flavours were the top preferred flavour of gummies, chewy candy, and hard candy. Roughly 45% of consumers feel there is a better-for-you treat, and 30% of shoppers are very interested in buying all-natural, lower-sugar, or sugar-free candies.

Brands offering healthy, low- or no-sugar, and better-for-you ingredients may find opportunities in Canada’s candy market.


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