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Europe: Consumers still like things sweet, report

Across the 10 highest consuming nations for both sugar confectionery and gum, consumption is increasing, with compound annual growth rates ranging from 0.5 percent to 3.0 percent over the 2010-2022 forecast period.

Global sales were worth US$85.8 billion in 2017 and expected to reach around US$100 billion by 2022, according to Innova Market Insights.

“While concerns about the unhealthiness of sugar confectionery are apparent when consumers are questioned, this does not necessarily relate to their actual purchasing or consumption habits,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation.

The three leading drivers of choice are flavor, cost, and indulgence.

Indulgence is the key factor that Italian, French and Russian consumers pay importance to when buying sugar confectionery.

In other countries, flavor and cost are more important considerations.

In addition, certain health aspects may have an influence on the choice of one product over another.

While sugar-free gum has been around for many years, sugar-free confectionery as a whole has yet to become such an established sector.

According to Innova Market Insights data, 6% of sugar confectionery launches in the 12 months to the end of June 2018, used a sugar-free positioning, compared with over two-thirds of gum introductions.

Across the 19 countries surveyed by the company, an average 24% of respondents claimed to be influenced by a sugar confectionery product’s sugar content and a similar amount by whether the product is natural or not.

This means that about 75% of respondents across the 19 countries were not influenced by sugar content, therefore there are still a minority of people who look for these products.

With a greater focus on sugar intake, however, companies are making concerted efforts to reduce sugar in their products.

Sugar reduction is perhaps a bigger trend than sugar-free as it offers more scope for manufacturers and is less impactful on the taste of the finished product.

“Given the growing momentum behind reducing sugar intake, some may argue that sugar confectionery and to a lesser extent gum is on shaky ground,” notes Williams.

“However, these products are enjoyed the world over and there are plenty of ways in which companies can head off any future downturn in consumption and sales.”

Key will be the creation of interest and excitement in the category and giving consumers a reason to purchase their products over other snack foods perhaps perceived to be healthier.

“The use of flavor will continue to be important to achieve this, but there is also a need to switch to natural flavors following the move to natural colors,” she adds.

“Companies can also look to use more indulgent premium flavors, targeting the adult market with more value added premium-style offerings.”