In spirit, at least. Innovation is surging in confectionery. But is the category’s new creative streak the golden ticket to growth it needs?

If invention is indeed 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation and 2% butterscotch ripple, as Willy Wonka suggests (never mind the dodgy maths), British confectioners must have been sweating buckets of late. They’ve probably been getting through a fair bit of butterscotch too, because the spirit of Wonka is returning to UK confectionery.

Not just his spirit: Nestlé brought back the Wonka brand itself in August after eight years away from the UK. The new Wonka bars (in Millionaire’s Shortbread, Chocolate Nice Cream and Crème Brûlée flavours) are three of 950 new confections - including brand extensions as well as entirely new products - to have hit the market in the past year [Mintel 52 w/e 1 September 2013]. That’s a 17.1% hike in NPD year on year and an 89.9% increase since 2007.

Exclusive analysis for The Grocer reveals just how crucial such innovation has been for confectionery. Although the number of new products launched in the past year is down slightly on 2011’s spike of 986, the value of NPD to the category is now at a five-year high (see right).

Products launched in 2011 accounted for 2.6% of total confectionery’s value in that year, or £98m. Products launched in the past year have racked up nearly twice that amount - £181m, or 4.5% of the total market [IRI 52 w/e 17 August 2013].

So has this new spirit of invention really provided a golden ticket for growth? Which brands are leading and which sub-categories are benefiting? Are any struggling? And, as brands think up increasingly weird and wonderful ways of satisfying the UK’s sweet tooth, how are more traditional treats (countlines, sugar confectionery, mints and gums, for example) staying relevant?

There’s no disputing confectionery’s champion sub-category of the past year. Value sales of what Kantar Worldpanel calls ‘milk-moulded recipe chocolate’ (tablets containing added ingredients such as nuts, raisins or biscuit) have surged a whopping 28.5% on volumes up 17.9%, far outpacing the overall category’s more modest growth of 3.5% on volumes up 0.5% [Kantar 52 w/e 7 July] in the past year…

Also in our special report:

Sugar confectionery

Innovation stations

NPD in confectionery is flying. Analysis from Mintel shows who’s innovating and in what areas


Making countlines count

With slabs using ever weirder, Wonka-esque recipes, how’s the traditional choccy bar competing?

Bazooka Chew Chunks

NPD gets sweet

Bazooka’s back with a bang. Daim is doing an Oreo. But will we lose our heads for Sour Patch’s NPD?

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