Sweets & Snacks Expo

How can brands become more than a trending flavor?

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Candy Snacks Gum

Confectionery and snack brands can stay head of the curve by offering layered flavors and textures inspired from other food and beverage categories, tapping into nostalgic tastes and international cuisines that consumers gravitate towards, Alice Mintz, director of solution architecture at SPINS told FoodNavigator-USA during the Sweets & Snacks Expo.

Gastrotourism continues to shape sweet and salty snacks, as consumers are introduced to more “excessive flavors,” to provide both an experience and a flavorful calling card that brings repeat purchases, Mintz said.

“How do we bring some of these more established foods from other countries into a flavor that is then applied to a traditional snacking product? The challenge for brands is how do you become more than just a trending flavor?” she said.

A rise in gum, mint, candy driven by consumers wanting ‘entertainment in their mouth’

Over the last year, the overall candy category grew 6% to $39 billion, but fell 7 points compared to 2022. However, category is still outperforming other confections including frozen novelties and cookies, according to SPINS data​.

Non-chocolate grew its market share by 31% over the last year, while gums and mints grew 13% between 2022 and 2024.

While gums and mints plummeted during the pandemic when socializing was kept to a minimum and consumers felt less of a need to freshen their breath, the category has since seen growth. Mintz credited the growth in gum and mints to consumers seeking more portable convenience and “[entertainment] in their mouth” through different flavors and functionalities, most notably seen in the ingredient xylitol which is “good for oral health.”

As novel flavors and textures drive confectionery innovation, freeze dried candy offers consumers a new twist to less popular novelties like freeze dried ice cream and healthier versions found in freeze dried fruits. Consumers increasingly turn to social media to find new and emerging brands that feature “interesting formats, forms and textures,” Mintz said.

“The rise of freeze-dried candy …  really accelerated given [its] prevalence on social media and different outlets. Online is the new impulse. So, by providing a texture that has not been seen before, it was really driving purchases, driving trial,” she said.

Mintz continued, “The challenge for new and smaller brands in this space is how you translate that to long term brand growth before established players come in and innovate because the base of these products are their main staples.”

Within the gummy space, a favorite across generations, consumers are seeking a “continued elevation of these nostalgic” products, a trend that Mintz describes as “confectionery adulting.” This is driven by the rise of more functional ingredients being incorporated into the chewy candies.

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