US chocolate and candy sector in good health as sales soar over 11% in 2021

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

83% of consumers sometimes or always include chocolate and candy on road trips, the NCA reports. Pic: GettyImages
83% of consumers sometimes or always include chocolate and candy on road trips, the NCA reports. Pic: GettyImages

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American candy and chocolate consumers are increasingly focused on seasonal celebrations, sharing and gifting, along with their emotional wellbeing, according to the NCA’s third annual State of Treating report.

Released this week at the organisation’s State of the Industry Conference in Florida, the report is eagerly awaited by companies operating in the US market as it is the definitive source for confectionery category performance data and provides a deeper understanding of shifting consumer attitudes and behaviours in a disrupted marketplace.

The report reveals that the total US confectionery category hit $36.9bn in retail sales in 2021 and is projected to reach $44.9bn in sales by 2026.

In 2021, consumers found even more creative ways to celebrate holidays and special occasions, and they continued to turn to chocolate and candy to bring a little fun to those experiences​,” said John Downs, president & CEO of NCA.

 “The shift to home-centricity has meant new opportunities for confectionery companies and their retail partners as consumers seek new treating moments with new items, new pack sizes and new brands​.”

Key findings from the report include:

Sales of chocolate grew 9.2%, and non-chocolate grew by 14.5%.

  • 71% of consumers mostly purchase chocolate and candy at their primary grocery store.
  • 66% of consumers research candy usage occasions on social media.
  • 78% of all adults believe it is perfectly fine to occasionally treat with chocolate or candy.
  • 72% of consumers believe that physical health and emotional well-being are interconnected.
  • 88% share with family and friends at least half the time when buying chocolate and candy.
  • 72% of consumers agree that it is important for chocolate and candy brands to offer portion size variety.
  • 91% of consumers report taking road trips, and of these consumers 83% sometimes or always include chocolate and candy in their travels.

Complete picture

The 2022 State of Treating report offers a complete picture of the resiliency of the confectionery category, explores the influence of inflation and supply chain challenges on confectionery purchases and pandemic shopping patterns and takes a closer look at the impact of social media on the category.

It also covers changing dynamics in the retail environment and presents opportunities for sustained category growth. For example,

The report highlights how the NCA’s National Candy Month in June enables manufacturers and retailers to work together to address the confectionery sales gap between Easter and Halloween.

Last year it provided a $500m incremental sales opportunity for the category and gave companies the opportunity to speak to consumers about the important role of chocolate and candy in making summer moments like road trips and beach vacations a little more fun.

Sales of chocolate and candy grew significantly this past year as consumers looked to prioritise their emotional wellbeing, and created a special and unique place for these treats in their lives​,” said Downs.

A key takeaway from the report is that in contrast to rising costs for families related to inflation, healthcare and simply putting food on the table, candy remains a simple, affordable treat. Whether consumers found their inspiration on social media or in the grocery aisle, they reached for chocolate and candy as a means of self-care and enjoyment in an otherwise uncertain time​.”

  • The 2022 State of Treating report is available at
  • The NCA’s State of the Industry Conference is the first live event since 2020 and runs from13 March to 16 March.

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