NCA State of of the Industry Conference 2017

Premium & healthy snacks: Mars and Ferrero execs chew on 2017 US confectionery trends

NCA's State of the Industry Conference took place in Miami, Florida earlier this week. Photo: ConfectioneryNews

Ferrero North America CEO Paul Chibe and VP of strategy and insights at Mars Matt Lloyd weigh in on 2017 confectionery trends.

Speaking to ConfectioneryNews at the recent State of the Industry Conference hosted by National Confectioners Association (NCA) in Miami, Florida, the pair said they expect premium chocolate and healthy snacks will drive sales growth in the US.

Premium and higher quality chocolate

Ferrero's Chibe, who was previously general manager of US gum and mints at Wrigley, said:  “Consumers will continue to see quality and their palates will continue to refine, and I think that’s a trend in confectionery as consumers are looking for premium and higher quality chocolate in the market place.”

“We’re lucky that our business is performing well,” he continued. “All our brands are performing strongly in the market.”

Ferrero USA’s chocolate candy box/bag/bar under 3.5 ounces posted dollar sales of $37.4m, which represents a 10.41% increase compared to the previous period, according to IRI’s data that includes total US multi-outlets with c-stores for the last 52 weeks ending Oct 2, 2016,

NCA President

CEO of National Confectioners Association, John Downs, warned that the war on sugar could become war on candy in the future. He said the organization will stand up for confectionery businesses in Washington DC.

That makes Ferrero a faster growing brand than Hershey (3.53% dollar sales increase), Mars (2.60%) and Lindt (3.93%), the data showed.

Chibe is responsible for Ferrero’s $1bn plus portfolio in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean, and he is also part of NCA’s board of trustees.

Meanwhile in the breath freshener segment, Ferrero posted total dollar sales of $216,406,336, a 6.25% increase versus the previous period, according to the same data sheet. The company’s Tic Tac brand in particular (excluding Tic Tac Minions) generated $213,709,584 worth of dollar sales, representing an annual growth of 5.67%.

War on sugar could be war on candy

Mars' Lloyd, who previously worked at Cadbury, said as long as the company keeps bringing innovation to consumers, the confectionery category will continue to grow.

“We continue to see health and wellness as a trend [in confectionery]. However, what’s really important for people is they can continue to treat themselves,” he said.

“Not only do people want healthy products, but they definitely want treats in their diet. Sharing moment is still important for our consumers, so we’ll continue to see growth in treating as well as healthy snacks.”

NCA CEO and president , John Downs, told attendees at the opening of the conference that though a health and wellness trend has triggered activists nationwide to restrict sugar consumption, two-thirds of Americans believe that there are appropriate steps that chocolate and candy companies could take to help people manage their sugar intake.

“The war on sugar doesn’t necessarily mean war on candy, but it could be in the future,” he said. “We’ll keep standing up for confectionery businesses in Washington DC.”

Chairman of the board at Jelly Belly Candy Company, Herman Goelitz Rowland Sr. also stressed that moderation is key to sugar intake at a networking session during the event.

Despite the consumer push on limiting sugar consumption, IRI data showed sugar-free chocolate category decreased by 3.15% dollar sales year-over-year.

Lloyd added Mars’ next biggest plan is to launch M&M’s Caramel in May this year.

IRI indicated the M&M chocolate candy snack size’s dollar sales were worth $56.9m during the period, a 16.38% decrease versus last year.

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