Sweets GettyImages-170105484

After nearly two years of lockdowns, the UK was fully on the move again in 2022. And that saw on-the-go Brits chewing gum and sucking sweets with abandon.

“We have seen strong growth in petrol, travel and convenience channels in 2022, reflecting a shift in more consumption out of home versus 2021 and 2020,” says Jon Hughes, MD of Haribo, which has turned an additional £25m with an extra 13 million packs sold. “Sweets are outperforming as the category annualises lower sales during the pandemic,” but Haribo is growing faster than the category in every trade channel, he adds.

In fact, candy’s value in grocery is up 6.9%, while gum sales have spiked 16.7%. Combined growth is worth £111.7m, with an extra 107.5 million packs sold.

It’s possible this year’s heatwave helped drive strong growth too, believes Mark Roberts, marketing director at Perfetti Van Melle, which has seen its three biggest brands – Fruittella, Mentos and Smint – add £10.5m between them.

“A contributor may have been the extraordinarily hot weather this summer: sugar confectionery doesn’t melt like chocolate,” Roberts says. “It has high household penetration like chocolate but has benefited because of its ability to meet different occasions and need-states through variety of choice, portability and added functional and health benefits.”

Not that confectioners relied solely on 30-degree heat to do all the sales work. NPD and marketing also played key roles in value growth. Hughes, for example, says the launch of several lines – including Soda Twist Zing, Balla Bites and Maoam Tropical Stripes – has cemented Haribo’s category-leading status.

PVM, meanwhile, ran the influencer campaign ‘Halloween Hotel’ to drum up interest in Fruittella in the build-up to the witching season. And the supplier’s Mentos Pure Fresh Gum was the sponsor of Capital FM’s Summertime Ball as it targeted teenage consumers. Finally, Mentos teamed up with Fanta in May to launch orange-flavoured chewy sweets.

With the HFSS clampdown looming, other innovating suppliers took the no-added-sugar route earlier this year. Like Fruit Gummies from Naturelly (see Top Launch, below) which uses only fruit sugar – as does Mondelez’s recent NPD.

“We’ve seen that more consumers are looking for authentic ingredients from their treats,” says Mondelez trade communications manager Susan Nash. “Maynards Bassetts and The Natural Confectionery Co have tapped this trend with the launch of our exciting range Juicies. Comprising Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums Juicies, Maynards Bassetts Sports Mix Juicies and The Natural Confectionery Co Juicy Snakes, each product includes real fruit juice and 30% less sugar than the standard equivalents.”

As Mondelez was launching fruity candy it was also marketing its established minty options – in particular, Trebor. After celebrating its centenary in 2021, the brand kicked off 2022 with a £1.6m push urging shoppers to ‘Own It’.

“With a purchase of Trebor mints, hundreds of confidence-boosting prizes are up for grabs that help shoppers own their style, their fitness, or hobbies, helping them to feel prepared and ready to face whatever stands in front of them,” Nash says.

The year-long campaign’s efficacy remains to be seen: six months after launch, Trebor was up 3.3% in value but down 1.3% in units.

The success of Tic Tacs, on the other hand, is crystal clear. Its 14.9% value surge, on units up 10.7%, has been driven in part by “a strong pipeline of innovation which ensures shoppers remain engaged with our portfolio, including new products and flavour extensions to drive excitement and offer choice”, says Jason Sutherland, sales director at brand owner Ferrero.

“This year, we launched Tic Tac Fresh. The sugar-free and HFSS-compliant range is available in three flavours – Cherry, Strong Mint and Grapefruit – offering consumers wider choice. Available in the brand’s pocket packs, the new range also helps retailers to capitalise on the on-the-go opportunity.”

PVM’s Mentos and Smint mint lines have cashed in big, too. Between them, they’ve added £6.8m and shifted 6.2 million extra packs. That was to a considerable degree thanks to “growing demand for breath-fresheners as people began interacting more after lockdown”, says Roberts.

It’s a similar story in gum, where “the move to fruit-flavoured gum continues to show promising growth”, he adds, pointing to the popularity of Mentos gum. It’s grown value by 35.5% with the assistance of variants such as Cherry, Tropical and Bubble.

The success of fruity flavours hasn’t gone unnoticed by Extra, the UK’s biggest gum brand (up £29.7m), which this year launched Apple and Blueberry lines.

“Apple is the most popular fruit in the UK and blueberry is a leading flavour for confectionery,” says Georgie Feldman, external communications manager at brand owner Mars Wrigley.

“So, these flavours are positioned to become consumer favourites. With their eye-catching packaging, these fruit gum packs are perfect to place around the till and, because they are sugar-free, they are also HFSS-compliant.”

Candy challenges

On the face of it, 2022 has been a sweet year for makers of gum and candy. But it hasn’t been without difficulties. Mondelez, for instance, says it’s “facing the same challenges that many other food companies have reported when it comes to our supply chain”.

Not even market leader Haribo has been immune to issues. In October, wholesalers reported shortages in some SKUs as the brand prepared for the usual Halloween sales spike. Some said inbound availability had dropped to just over 80%.

“Haribo has enjoyed record growth this year and we are grateful that the nation’s sweet lovers continue to choose our products,” Hughes told The Grocer at the time.

“We continue to work closely with all our customers to meet demand as efficiently as possible and this includes some prioritisation of products. We announced a multimillion-pound investment in our Castleford factory last year, which will further support our growth ambitions.”

The UK’s sweet-toothed shoppers will no doubt be thankful for that.

Top Launch 2022

Fruit Gummies | Naturelly

fruit gummies

Your eyes are not deceiving you. This really is a bag of fruit gummies with all green traffic lights. Non-HFSS jelly brand Naturelly unveiled its no-added-sugar sweets in September. Each 40g bag (rsp: 80p) provides just 5g of naturally occurring sugar and the entire 30g recommended daily fibre intake, while weighing in at just 68 calories. The gummies are vegan, made with real fruit juice, and contain no sweeteners. They’re listed by Amazon, and will roll into Co-op and Nisa in January 2023.

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