10 tasting trends: See what’s ahead for snacks and sweets

Jenni Spinner

June 28, 2019

5 Min Read
Sweet stock image
NCA’s 2019 Sweets and Snacks Expo yielded notable market facts, trends, and of course new packaging.

Financially, the candy and snack industry is a healthy business. Increasingly, that term is becoming more literal as well. For example, according to the National Confectioners Association, by 2022 manufacturers pledge at least half of individually wrapped products will be 200 calories or less. Additionally, 90% of the category’s bestsellers will put calorie information in a starring role—right on the front of the packaging.

Encouragement of more healthful snacking isn’t the only trend. At the NCA’s 2019 Sweets and Snacks Expo, attendees heard about notable market facts and trends, including:

• Booming e-commerce sales. IRI reports online sales of packaged candy, snacks and other treats has hit the $1 billion mark. Over the past two years, increases in internet sales of chocolate led the field (24%), with non-chocolate (15%) and gum.

• Non-chocolate is pulling ahead.Traditionally chocolate has worn the crown in category growth. In 2017 and again last year, however, non-chocolate has pulled ahead, reports NCA. Seasonal non-chocolate offerings jumped by 6.5% in that time.

• Candy, snacks and gum reign. Nearly every household in America (98.9%) bought products in the category during 2018, according to IRI.

The star of Sweets and Snacks, though, are the product exhibits. Wandering through the booths offered a glimpse of thousands of new products, and a chance to do some trendspotting. Browse ahead to read about notable packaging, flavor and ingredient trends.

Photo: Jenni Spinner

1. Hot, hot, hot

Aficionados of all things spicy will appreciate this trend. Increasingly, packaged treats promise intense heat—and deliver. For example, the new line of Chickpea Puffs from Biena Snacks includes a Blazin’ Hot flavor that actually is. Other bold entries include Hot AF Slim Jim meat sticks from ConAgra Brands and—for the truly fearless—the Toe of Satan, Flamethrower Candy Co.’s lollipop boasting 9 million Scoville units of heat.

Go with retro

Photo: Glitschka Studios

2. Go with retro

Tasting a piece of candy, or even merely holding a package of an old favorite treat, can bring back sweet memories. Best known for licorice and other sweets, Gerrit J Verburg purchased old-fashioned gums Beemans, Blackjack and Teaberry, showing off its acquisitions at the show in familiar packaging.

Also, 1908 Candy Co. previewed its retooled yet still retro packaging for throwback candies it acquired from Ferrara, including Alexander the Grape, Mr. Melon, Cherry Clan and others.

Living single


Photo: Jenni Spinner

3. Living single

Calorie-conscious consumers who are low on self-control might be wary of bringing home an entire multi-serving package of treats, for fear of downing them in one sitting. Catering to those who don’t wish to overindulge, many manufacturers are offering one-shot snack packs. These include Spangler Candy Co., whose retail-ready cases of Circus Peanuts marshmallow candies debuted at the show.

Count on keto

Photo: Jenni Spinner

4. Count on keto

Unlike other fad diets, following a low-carb keto regimen seems to be carrying on rather than fading out. Consumers adhering to the high-protein regimen are on the hunt for sweets, not just meats. Many cookie, brownie and candy manufacturers are introducing packaged treats that satisfy a high desire for sweets while keeping carb counts down, including Fat Snax keto-friendly cookies.

Rolling out redesigns

Photo: Biena Snacks

5. Rolling out redesigns

Packaging redesigns are a common occurrence with consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands—it’s a popular trick to stay fresh with consumers by refreshing the look of a product. Gimbal’s Fine Candies (around since 1898) previewed an updated look for its film bags and pouches. Slightly younger brand Biena Snacks (established 2012) changed up the look of its chickpea snacks to better connect with shoppers, and unify the brand across product lines.

Eating and activities

Photo: Jenni Spinner

6. Eating and activities

As if candy by itself weren’t fun enough, several companies launched packaged candy and snacks with an interactive element. Redwood Ventures showed off its Foodie Surprise kits, which invite kids to whip up their own edible entertainment. International manufacturer PISSA offered a watercolor painting kit that lets users decorate candy tarts with edible watercolors and a candy crayon brush.

Two-part harmony


Photo: Jenni Spinner

7. Two-part harmony

Consumers often appreciate having more than one option, especially in the same package. Fini Sweets USA Inc. introduced its Flip It! candies at this year’s show. Each of the upright film pouches features two varieties of soft or gummy candy. The two sweets are kept separate with an inner film divider.

Premium experience

Photo: Jenni Spinner

8. Premium experience

Ferrero USA Inc.’s Golden Gallery high-end boxed chocolates entices premium-minded consumers with embossing, gold foil, finely crafted boxes and other luxe features. At Sweets and Snacks 2019, the company displayed an elevated version of the packaging inside a showcase box, accompanied by a brochure, wine pairings, tongs, presentation tray and other features. The packaging is designed to give consumers a social, elegant experience.

Get the message?

Photo: Jenni Spinner

9. Get the message?

Many manufacturers put thought into inside packaging components, not just the parts that can be spotted on shelves. American Licorice Co. recently launched an interactive campaign that encouraged users to send in uplifting personal messages. The most inspiring words were selected to be printed on the inner trays of Red Vines twists. The warm messages on the inner packaging are matched with groovy hearts, peace signs and other friendly graphics on the outer wrap.

Sugar-free gets younger

Photos: Jenni Spinner

10. Sugar-free gets younger

Alina Morse, the 14-year-old entrepreneur behind ZolliCandy, launched her brand because, in her opinion, offerings in the sugar-free category were lacking and aged. She headed up a company that now offers sugar-free lollipops, hard candies, taffy and (brand new at Sweets and Snacks 2019) caramels. The packaging features bright colors and fun graphics designed to appeal to kids of all ages.


Sign up for the Packaging Digest News & Insights newsletter.

You May Also Like