As the world of confectionery evolves, so do consumers’ attitudes and behaviors toward their diet and health. 

COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way consumers perceive their health. As a result, in the last two years global consumers have changed their consumption and purchasing habits. People have taken a more long-term and holistic approach to wellness and want to address an array of issues over the next 12 months, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. 

In 2021, 52 percent of consumers reported they were adopting a more long-term approach to their health – in comparison to 43 percent in 2019 – which supports the claim that consumers are taking a prevention over cure approach to disease management. Moreover, in 2019, 33 percent of consumers admitted to educating themselves on health, compared to 58 percent in 2021. This increase can be attributed to the pandemic and illustrates influential change in consumer behavior toward health. As consumers feel their health is improving, this motivates them to stick to a wellness routine. This proactive maintenance is having a positive impact on people’s overall wellness, which encourages them to continue pursuing healthier choices to optimize their lifestyle and increase longevity.

Consumer attitudes

Consumers recognized their eating and drinking habits were increasing the risk of long-term problems due to unhealthy eating: 23 percent of global consumers describe their diets as unhealthy and 49 percent say that they often turn to unhealthy eating habits because they are stressed (2022). 

For this reason, consumers are taking a greater interest in the ingredients in the products they consume and are looking for a health boost beyond basic nutrition. When consumers were asked which health areas they plan to address in the next 12 months, 66 percent said immunity and digestive health were there top two priorities. This was especially important for those who deem the two to be interlinked. In 2019, only 26 percent of consumers were focusing on the ingredients in the products they were consuming. This number increased to 42 percent in 2021 and is expected to continue to rise as more people begin to prioritize their health. Consumers will become increasingly conscious to what they consume and how it benefits them, and this trend will continue long after the pandemic as greater emphasis is placed on long-term wellness. 

Consumers are looking to reduce their snacking frequency, indicating that they deem their snacking as unhealthy. More than 40 percent (44 percent) of consumers believe their health has improved over the last 12 months (2022). Consumers also admit they turn to unhealthy eating as a result of convenience and time scarcity, as they believe healthy eating is expensive, time-consuming, and can be boring and bland. This combination of convenience and time scarcity may also explain why consumers associate snacking with unhealthy eating. 

Consumer actions 

There’s a steady increase in the number of consumers who have switched from traditional snacks, such as chocolate and confectionery, to high protein/low sugar alternatives in the last 12 months. Consumers are also actively looking to reduce the amount they snack. The desire to reduce snacking is driven by many people feeling they gained weight during the pandemic and seeking out snacks for health intentions over traditional indulgence. 

In 2019, 51 percent of consumers switched to healthier snack alternatives, in comparison to 56 percent in 2021. Seeking out snacks that are guilt-free and conveniently nutritious is influencing the types of products consumers turn to when shopping. With the back-to-basics approach to nutrition making a return, 74 percent of consumers view snacks as healthier if they include servings of real fruit.  

Protein is the most popular functional ingredient claim that consumers like to see in the confectionery sector. The health halo around protein will continue due its association with various benefits and a high-quality, well-balanced diet. Most consumers like to obtain protein from various protein sources. This also applies to ingredients that contain vitamins (such as omega-3), minerals, and fiber. 

Eight in 10 global consumers want multifunctional claims due to their association with efficacy, convenience and optimized value. Consumers want a variety of functional claims on sports nutrition snacks beyond those associated with performance. There is an opportunity to extend the range of sports nutrition snacks to also target health-conscious consumers. Consumers are also concerned with the aftertaste, as 53 percent said they’re concerned of the aftertaste of protein products in particular.

Snacking brands need to respond to evolving dietary habits, and products should be positioned to align with the goals of global consumers. Ideally, people want snacks that offer great taste and nutrition simultaneously, without trade-offs. In addition, evidence must exist to support multifunctional claims and reaffirm product quality. Consumers want reassurance that products taste great and can easily be incorporated into diets without negative effects. 

With the cost-of-living crisis people, it will become crucial for consumers to be price sensitive, and brand loyalty will decline as people shop around in order to get the best value for money. Nevertheless, consumers will not be willing to trade up on products that meet their need states, prioritizing price and quality while trying to resume appropriate spending habits. However, it is important not to over-promote function at the expense of sensory appeal, as there are preconceptions that better-for-you products lack in that area.

Consumers want to avoid ingredients that they deem harmful to them and the wider environment, and they believe that fewer ingredients and verified health-boosting claims enhance appeal. It’s not enough for brands and manufacturers to state health claims on packaging – brands must provide evidence as support. Barriers to healthy living will continue to exist, and the snack industry must acknowledge and address it.

This article is based on FMCG Gurus: Functional Ingredients in the Confectionery & Chocolate Market in 2022 & Beyond. For more information, please contact