Sales of own label confectionery overtook the biggest brand for the first time this year, according to research produced exclusively for The Grocer.

The combined value of supermarket branded products squeezed out last year's biggest individual brand, Wrigley, which fell into third place in a ranking compiled by TNS Worldpanel.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk remained the second-largest brand in the market.

TNS head of communications Edward Garner said the surge up the rankings by own label reflected the fact that supermarket own brands were increasingly considered good quality brands in their own right.

"The distinction between own label and brands is disappearing," said Garner. "If you turned up at a dinner party ten years ago with a box of Tesco chocolates it would be sniffed at. But now it's acceptable to arrive with Tesco Finest handmade 70% dark chocolates. A line has been crossed."

Chris Marshall, non-executive chairman of Tangerine Confectionery, said merchandising in-store was also key to the success of own label. "The branded confectioners put generous marketing support behind their brands, but the multiples tend to give own-label more shelf space," he said.

Breadth of offer and keen price points were also important, said Paul Simmonds, CEO of rival supplier Glisten. "Retailers are so strong at both premium and value lines," he said. "They understand both ends of the spectrum and work hard on price to give own-label a higher share."

It was a double blow for brands as the total value of the confectionery market fell 1.6% to £4.15bn in the year to 17 June. But there were still big winners in the market - most notably countlines, which rose 6.4% to £349m, boosted by a raft of brand extensions, and the migration of well-known brands such as Terry's Chocolate Orange, Black Magic, Guylian's seashell gift packs and Cadbury's Creme Egg to the countline format.

Focus on Confectionery p41