As a wellness-focused data company and advocate for the natural products Industry, SPINS provides many of the exhibitors at Sweets & Snacks Expo with the market insights needed to innovate and stand out in the space. 

We connected with SPINS' Market Insights Director Scott Dicker, who shared the latest trends backed by proprietary data and predictions for what’s to come post-expo. 


Liz Parker: What are some of SPINS’ top findings this year in the confectionery sector? 

Scott Dicker: Heading into Sweets & Snacks this year, we’ve uncovered numerous interesting takeaways around the confectionary sector. Overall, the candy category is seeing strong growth, outperforming other traditionally sweet segments with a 6% increase. Following close behind are bread & baked goods, refrigerated cookies and pastry doughs, and cookies and snack bars all experiencing a notable 4% growth.  

Our data also highlights a resurgence in gum & mints outgrowing the category across all channels. Notably, gum & mints and non-chocolate candy all outpaced chocolate, gaining three points of additional market share. This trend has persisted for the last three years, especially as chocolate continues to be impacted by supply chain disruptions, though it remains a staple for seasonal candy options. 

In terms of new trends, freeze-dried products are beginning to grow in popularity with an 8% growth rate. Both established and new brands alike are entering the freeze-dried category this year with items like freeze-dried chocolate covered fruit.  

One of the top drivers of these changes is consumer mentality shifts. Consumers are showing an uptick in interest in gummy and sour candy options and looking for intentional indulgence from products with functional, healthy and sustainable attributes. These evolving preferences are reshaping the landscape of the confectionery sector and driving innovation across product categories. 


LP: Has the industry overall grown in sales over the past year? 

SD: The industry has seen decelerated growth over the last year. Although, across chocolate and non-chocolate categories, unit declines and slower sales are being offset by price increases. An example of this is the non-chocolate segment, which despite a 2% decrease in units sold compared to last year, is still contributing significantly to overall growth, accounting for 45% of it. This suggests while there may be challenges in terms of volume sold, the industry is finding ways to maintain revenue through strategic pricing strategies. 


LP: What are the most popular new brands that have entered the category? 

SD: While we cannot share direct brand names, emerging brands are leading with new fruit and nut formats and focusing on functionality. For example, we’re seeing expansion across classic products like chocolate covered almonds or reintroductions of classic candies. 


LP: What about brands seeing success with new categories, such as freeze-dried products? 

SD: While we cannot share direct names, brands that entered the freeze-dried category this year became some of the top growth driving brands in the sector. Beyond the freeze-dried category, many established brands are entering the candy industry with line extensions and reformulations. For example, some brands are focusing more on indulgence products while others rebrand with ingredient specificity as their top focus. 


LP: Any predictions for the next 12 months? 

SD: Looking ahead to the next 12 months, we anticipate growth in freeze-dried products category will continue. With an impressive 8% growth in the category this year, there are ample opportunities for brands to enter the space and capitalize on its growing popularity.  

Additionally, as chocolate gets outpaced by gums and mints and non-chocolate candy, chocolate will be interesting to watch. We expect to see price hikes from supply chain disruptions, like the cocoa bean shortage in Ivory Coast and Ghana. Consequently, consumers may increasingly turn to non-chocolate alternatives as they navigate higher prices in the chocolate segment. The next 12 months promise both continued evolution with trends like freeze-dried products and shifting consumer preferences reshaping the industry’s landscape.

Related: 2024 Sweets & Snacks Expo preview: Trends, treats, and tastemakers