According to Innova Market Insights, based in the Netherlands, the confectionery market was the leading food and drinks sector in terms of global launch activity in the first half of 2011. This occurred despite the industry having a rough ride in 2010, as a result of rising prices in the wake of increasing raw material costs, particularly for cocoa and sugar. Many markets saw static to falling volumes, with value rises mainly reflecting these price rises and manufacturers, in many instances, had to rely on ongoing product and promotional activity to maintain competitiveness.
Chocolate continues to dominate in confectionery, both in terms of market value and of launch activity, with chocolate accounting for more than two-thirds of the confectionery launches tracked by Innova Market Insights in the first half of 2011, ahead of sugar confectionery with just under 30% and chewing gum with 5%.
The chewing gum sector has had some difficult years after a buoyant period in the mid-2000s, but there are now signs that it is starting to recover, with rising launch numbers and some success in terms of product activity over the past year or so, most notably with lifestyle products, particularly sugar-free, mouth-freshening gums delivered in convenient formats designed to appeal through groundbreaking flavors, packaging and graphics.
Launches of particular interest over the past few months include Australia’s first approved fortified sugar-free gum in the form of Wrigley’s Extra Professional Calcium; a three-layer chewing gum under the Mentos 3 name in France including a mint and licorice variant; and Kraft/Cadbury’s Trident Vitality range of enriched gums in Awaken, Vigorate and Rejuve variants in the U.S.
Meanwhile, in the chocolate confectionery market, brand extensions continue to dominate activity, with Nestlé’s Kit Kat particularly active globally with launches ranging from a candied sweet potato Kit Kat variant in Japan; a boxed Kit Kat Singles variant in Germany and a range of Kit Kat Chunky 3 variants in Australia.
Bite-size chocolates are also featuring strongly, particularly in the U.K., with launches such as Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocos and Galaxy Bites. The sharing bags concept is also being heavily exploited in several countries, as exemplified by 2011 introductions such as Kit Kat Pop Chocs in the U.K., Milka Crispy Snax, Daim Snax and Lila Stars Snax in pouches in Germany.
The award for the most unusual confectionery launch over the period should go to the U.S., where Coco Preggers, a range of chocolate truffles with added folic acid and DHA omega 3 fatty acids, has been launched by Xan Confections, aimed specifically at pregnant women,
Lu Ann Williams, research manager at Innova Market Insights, concludes “The strong product and promotional activity seen in the confectionery sector in the first half of 2011 looks set to continue. The demand for small and relatively inexpensive snacks and ‘treats’ seems unlikely to be radically inhibited by consumer concerns over their finances, or indeed over health and obesity issues, and the confectionery industry remains well-placed to deal with ongoing competition from other snack products.”