10 candy trends and delicious packaging that shows them off

Jenni Spinner

June 2, 2017

8 Min Read
10 candy trends and delicious packaging that shows them off

Think candy sells itself? Think again. Like any highly competitive and crowded retail category, candy leverages packaging to entice the eyes and get the grab.

The recent 2017 Sweets and Snacks Expo showcased packaging innovations, new products, industry developments and noteworthy trends, which we present here.

Organized by the National Confectioners Assn. (NCA) and held May 23-25, the event overfilled the West Building of Chicago’s McCormick Place, with an estimated 17,000 attendees visiting more than 800 vendors spanning 4 acres of products and technology exhibits.

Here are some interesting facts to chew on, courtesy of the NCA:

• Most Americans treat themselves to candy two or three times a week—averaging 40 calories a day.
• Candy is big business—confectionery items account for $35 billion in retail sales—that includes $2 billion in exports, and a hefty $7 billion in seasonal sales.
• The industry employs 55,000 people in the U.S. directly—extend that to packaging, agriculture, retail, transportation and other fields, and candy accounts for more than 400,000 U.S. jobs.

Scroll through the following pages and see some highlights from this year’s Sweets and Snacks spectacular.


Photo credit: National Confectioners Assn.

Page 1: Candy giants bite into healthful snacking

Page 2: Does your retail-ready packaging stack up?

Page 3: Innovative snack packaging can grab customers

Page 4: Mentos takes a fresh approach to reclosable packs

Page 5: Artist finds sweet inspiration in candy wrappers

Page 6: Health-focused front-of-pack messaging picks up

Page 7: Multi-unit packaging carries candy to new places

Page 8: Snack pouches pop onto shelves with an artistic flair

Page 9: Jelly Belly launches fresh-baked branded packaging

Page 10: Gum brand packaging features a familiar feel

1. Candy giants bite into healthful snacking

Many health-conscious Americans are counting their calories—it turns out the candy and snacks industry is prepared to help their efforts. Prior to this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo, the NCA announced a joint plan to aid consumers in boosting their health and efforts to make better snacking choices. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) giants Mars, Wrigley, Nestle, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Russell Stover and Ferrara Candy Co. signed onto initiative, announced at a May 11 meeting in Washington, D.C. The commitment includes:

• By 2022, 50% of the individually wrapped products made by the participating companies will come in sizes containing 200 calories or less per pack.
• Within the next five years, 90% of the companies’ best-selling treats will have calorie information on the pack front.
• Also over the next five years, the AlwaysATreat.com website will grow and share resources for consumers to better fit candy and snacks into their healthy lifestyles.

The organizations, with the help of Partnership for a Healthier America, plans to monitor and share progress with the rest of the industry.


Photo credit: Jenni Spinner

2. Does your retail-ready packaging stack up?

Retail-ready packaging displays can provide snack and candy brands with a convenient way to reach and connect with customers in the stores. However, CPGs aren’t always confident that the containers they design, produce and send on their merry way actually succeed in making it all the way to a shopper’s eyeballs effectively.

During “Off-shelf Merchandising and POP: Best in Class for Candy and Snacks”—a session led by Jill Blomquist-Anderson, vp of marketing for Menasha—attendees learned that brand owners aren’t sure if their display plans are becoming reality at retail. Specifically, those professionals feel their displays are being set up correctly about 78% of the time. Blomquist-Anderson pointed out that brand owners and their retail-ready packaging partners can increase their chances of success if retail-ready packaging and displays ship packed and ready to go. If set-up is required, it should be as clear and uncomplicated as possible.


Photo credit: Mars

3. Innovative snack packaging can grab customers

Novel formats, bright colors, unique designs—packaging that stands out presents one path candy and snack manufacturers can take to invite shoppers to buy their wares. David Read, vp of marketing for Printpack Inc., revealed that 66% of polled consumers indicate they have picked up and purchased something new at retail simply because the packaging caught their eye.

There are numerous ways to accomplish product differentiation on the shelf, including container shape, design that offers a clear view of the product through transparent materials, interesting textures and unique container orientation.

Read also pointed out packaging offers an opportunity to engage multiple senses of consumers, such as the sound of a shaken can of treats, the feel of a rigid container or the look of a pouch printed with matte and spot varnish.


Photo credit: NuttZo

4. Mentos takes a fresh approach to reclosable packs

Recloseable containers aren’t a new sight in the sweets and snacks arena—we’ve seen zippered pouches on everything from chocolate candy to potato chips for years. However, Perfetti van Melle debuted at the show a flexible pouch for its Mentos Pure Fresh gum featuring a Velcro Press-Lok closure. The consumer opens the 12-piece personal pouch by pushing the film down at the top and pulling it apart, then reseals it by pressing the hook and loop components of the closure back together again.


Photo credit: Jenni Spinner

5. Artist finds sweet inspiration in candy wrappers

After a consumer has enjoyed candy, chips or other kinds of treats found on display at Sweets and Snacks, the discarded material normally gets tossed in the garbage or recycling bin. Artist Sean Edward Brown gives these usually forgotten materials a new life in creative works of art. At a booth outside the Innovation Avenue exhibits at Sweets and Snacks, Brown displayed portraits of Prince, David Bowie, Notorious B.I.G., the Beatles and other musical legends, in addition to renderings of sports logos and a picture of the late Carrie Fisher’s iconic Princess Leia.


Photo credit: Sean Edward Brown

6. Health-focused front-of-pack messaging picks up

Gluten, high-fructose corn syrup, genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—many consumers are as interested in what a product doesn’t have to offer as they are in the tempting tastes a package does contain. An increasing number of pouches, bags, boxes and other containers displayed at the 2017 Sweets and Snacks event displayed avoidance messaging and logos on the pack front, reflecting an increasing interest among a segment of shoppers in keeping wheat, genetically modified ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other ingredients out of their candy and snack habits.

Taza Chocolate is one of the manufacturers seeking to connect with such conscious consumers by placing non-GMO and organic logos on the front of its Dark Bark candy pouches.


Photo credit: Jenni Spinner

7. Multi-unit packaging carries candy to new places

Traditionally, Bazooka Candy Brands’ kid-centric Bottle Pop candy containers resided mostly near retail checkout counters, where younger shoppers would pick them up on impulse (or plead with Mom or Dad to buy them before departing the store).

Hoping to carry the brand to other sections of the store and create more opportunities to connect with buyers, the company is launching its Bottle Pop lollipops (expected to hit retail shelves in October) in multi-unit packs. According to Nicole Rivera, director of marketing and innovation, the new product twist and multi-unit packaging will put the line on the candy section shelves, reach a broader range of shoppers and offer sharing opportunities. The pack varieties the firm is working on include a film bag and a multi-layer upright reclosable pouch.


Photo credit: Bazooka Candy Brands

8. Snack pouches pop onto shelves with an artistic flair

Candy and snack containers can be a canvas on which packaging designers create eye-catching works of art. Several brands exhibiting at Sweets and Snacks this year took the opportunity to let their design teams’ creativity shine with interesting and unique packaging looks.

Nourish Snacks—founded by Today show diet expert Joy Bauer—recently revamped its packaging by shifting to reclosable, multilayer pouches featuring colorful palettes with a pop-art feel.


Photo credit: Nourish Snacks

9. Jelly Belly launches fresh-baked branded packaging

Beloved jelly bean manufacturer Jelly Belly is no stranger to co-branded packaging and products, from peppery-sweet Tabasco beans, to Harry Potter-centric Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans, to Star Wars packs featuring Darth Vader’s ominous likeness.

The company has added to that roster with a line of flavors inspired by Krispy Kreme doughnuts. In addition to film bags and giftable upright bags, the manufacturer also is launching the jelly beans in boxes designed to evoke Krispy Kreme’s iconic doughnut boxes.


Photo credit: Jenni Spinner

10. Gum brand packaging features a familiar feel

When launching a candy or snack product, brand owners frequently endeavor to come up with new packaging to put the new item into. Ferrero took the opposite approach with their Tic-Tac Gum—instead of reinventing the wheel for the new product’s container, the manufacturer instead chose to aim for brand consistency and put the gum into the same well-recognized brick-shaped rigid container as its long-standing mints line. Expected to hit U.S. retailers in early 2018, the gum itself also shares the iconic shape of the Tic-Tac mints.


Photo credit: Jenni Spinner


Freelance writer and former Packaging Digest senior editor Jenni Spinner is a trade journalist with two decades of experience in the field. While she has covered numerous industries (including construction, engineering, building security, food production and public works), packaging remains her favorite.


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