Gummy and jelly brands continue to dominate the non-chocolate chewy candy market, with the category seeing double-digit growth over the last year.

The segment pulled in $4.83 billion in the year ending May 15, according to IRI, a Chicago-based research firm. That’s up 13.7 percent from a year ago.

With nearly a quarter of the market share, Mars Wrigley leads the non-chocolate chewy category, pulling in just over $1.2 billion over the same period. Ferrara follows with 15 percent of the market share, generating $721.8 million in the 12 months ending May 15. The Chicago-based company’s non-chocolate chewy candy sales are up 8.9 percent from a year ago.

Mondelēz International, Haribo of America, and Perfetti Van Melle round out the Top 5, representing a combined 25 percent of the market share. Mondelēz earned $509 million, while Haribo pulled in $448.6 million and Perfetti Van Melle generated $293.3 million.

Greg Guidotti, chief marketing officer for Ferrara, said the versatility of the gummy format is one driver of the category’s growth. 

“Based on our consumer insights, we know candy lovers are always searching for multi-sensorial, multi-flavorful and multi-texture experiences – and the gummy category can deliver on all three trends,” he said.

Following Ferrara’s 2020 launch of Nerds Gummy Clusters, the company introduced a Very Berry flavor extension at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in May, receiving the 2022 Most Innovative New Product Award in the Non-Chocolate category. The Very Berry clusters feature a fruity, gummy center coated in crunchy, tangy mini Very Berry Nerds.

“Research showed that consumers were seeking out gummy and multi-textured candy, so we created Nerds Gummy Clusters to deliver on both,”Guidotti said. “This one-of-a-kind, crunchy, gummy, yummy invention became the latest breakthrough innovation to embody the spirit of the Nerds brand, known for celebrating how we are all better together.”

Meanwhile, Ferrara’s Trolli brand ranked sixth in the Top 20 non-chocolate chewy brands tracked by IRI. The brand pulled in $293.5 million, up 15 percent over the year ending May 15. Like the Nerds Gummy Clusters, Ferrara experimented with texture for one of its latest Trolli launches: Sour Duo Crawlers.

Available in Mango Pineapple, Citrus Watermelon and Strawberry Guava varieties, each Trolli Sour Duo Crawler features one soft side and one chewy side. Amping up both flavor and texture is part of Ferrara’s strategy, Guidotti said.

“Texture and flavor go hand-in-hand in the confectionery space, you really can’t have one without the other,” he said. “Flavors bring versatility into product lines, while texture keeps consumers guessing and takes them on an exciting ride when they eat their favorite candy.” 

Anchored by the signature chews, Mars Wrigley’s Starburst brand ranked fifth out the Top 20 non-chocolate chewy brands, generating $366.5 million in the year ending May 15. The brand’s newest launch — Starburst Airs — entered the gummy category in April with a fluffy, inflated texture. 

"Starburst is delivering better moments and more smiles to gummi fans with our next generation aerated gummies – Starburst Airs," said Justin Hollyn-Taub, senior director, U.S. fruit snacks for Mars Wrigley. "Starburst Airs are reimagined gummies that will leave candy-lovers enamored with the combination of Starburst flavors in a pillow-like texture."

Bazooka Candy Brands also zeroed in on texture with Push Pop Gummy Pop-its, the company’s newest gummy innovation. The airy, cone-shaped pieces come in Strawberry, Blue Raspberry, Berry Blast and Watermelon flavors. They’re packaged in a unique container that reveals a gummy when consumers flip open the lid, pull it up and push it down again.

Push Pop Gummy Pop-its is a true example of our company mission at Bazooka Candy Brands to keep bringing edible entertainment to new levels," said Becky Silberfarb, vice president of brand marketing for the Americas. "More than just a differentiated gummy product in a fast-growing category, Push Pop Gummy Pop-its delivers just what our fans love — a really unique and fun new eating experience."

Haribo of America reimagined how it packaged its Goldbears in celebration of its 100th anniversary. For the first time, the brand offered single-flavor pouches of its classic Pineapple gummy bears, alongside two new flavors, Blue Raspberry and Watermelon.

"HARIBO is the original creator of the gummy bear, and we're so excited to celebrate the 100th birthday of our iconic Goldbears in unique and meaningful ways here in the U.S., " said Rick LaBerge, chief operating officer, HARIBO of America, Inc. "We'll be marking this momentous occasion throughout 2022, and we want consumers to join in on the fun with us all year long."

Healthier gummies

While traditional gummies continue to see strong sales, established companies and startup brands are introducing better-for-you options with less sugar and natural ingredients.

In September 2021, Lily’s — known for its low-sugar chocolate — stepped into the healthy gummy category with the introduction of two SKUs: Gummy Bears and Gummy Worms. The gummies are non-GMO, keto-friendly, gluten-free, plant-based and have less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. They’re made without artificial colors and flavors. 

Katjes also brought its plant-based gummies to the U.S. last year, and the German company continued to expand its retail presence in 2022. Katjes’ gummies feature a chewy texture, though they don’t use gelatin as a gelling agent. The products are also carbon neutral, palm oil-free and contain no high fructose corn syrup.

The U.S. launch portfolio included three SKUs packaged in bright pink, resealable 4.9-oz. standup pouches: 

  • Rainbow: A multicolored celebration of love and diversity
  • Sour: A tart adventure with unicorns, fairies and hearts
  • Love & Stars: A red, white and blue patriotic nod to Katjes’s new American home

Side Step Sweets, founded by professional basketball player Jayson Tatum, launched Small Wins in March with the goal of bringing low-sugar, organic and vegan gummies to the market. Each 50-gram pack contains 4 grams of sugar and 100 calories per serving. The gummies are made with natural colors and flavorings in varieties such as Sassy Strawberry, Perfect Peach, Whimsical Watermelon and Groovy Green Apple.

Similarly, The Gummy Project announced in June plans to tap into the North American plant-based gummy market, with an expected launch in Canada this month, with the U.S. to follow in fall 2022. The gummies, which are also low-sugar and gluten-free, are also designed to support conservation of endangered species.

“Over the last few years, we have observed the quick creation and rapid growth of the low-sugar gummy market," said CEO Charlie Lamb. "First, we set out to enter this market with a better tasting product than what is currently available, and second, develop a purpose-driven brand that is truly different than what we see in the market today.”