Now trending: Caffeinated candy

By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe & Jess Spiring

- Last updated on GMT

TopGum has formulated a collection of high-dosage caffeinated gummies. Image: TopGum
TopGum has formulated a collection of high-dosage caffeinated gummies. Image: TopGum

Related tags Caffeine Candy Confectionery Npd Innovation Coffee

Here’s why caffeine-enriched candy has the industry buzzing

Many modern consumers are demanding more than just a sugar hit from their candy. Protein, fibre, botanicals and vitamins all feature as functional ingredients that promise to boost nutrition and improve wellness​. Data shows its more than a passing fad, with market analysts Data Intelligence predicting the sector will hit almost $4 billion ($3.98 bn) by 2031.

And now, one of the simplest functional ingredients is featured in many brands’ new products – caffeine. The stimulant, known for its fatigue-fighting properties has long been a key ingredient in the beverage sector, but is now finding an audience among confectionery consumers. Here’s where the action is happening.

1. Chocolates

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Awake Chocolate recently received $3.7m in investment. Image: Awake

British start-up Source first went into production in 2022 with two bars, one milk chocolate and one made with oat milk. Each deliver 50mg of caffeine, equivalent to half a cup of coffee.

Meanwhile in Germany, a shared aversion to coffee led two students to create Koawach which combines chocolate with caffeinated guarana seed powder. The result is a collection of cocoa powders and chocolate bars that promise an energy boost that builds slowly in the body and is metabolised without the caffeine crash that some coffee drinkers experience.

In Canada its Awake that’s most established in the market. Winning investment reality TV show Dragons Den in 2012, the firm received an investment of $3.7m in 2023 and is now available in 20,000 locations across North America.

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UK-based Caffeine Bullet is designed to give an energy boost to athletes. Image: Caffeine Bullet

2. Candy and gummies

Asian American candy brand Numa makes better-for-you taffy and peanut butter bars that are low in sugar and high in protein. The coffee-flavoured taffy is formulated with coffee and green coffee bean extract to provide as much caffeine as an espresso.

Marketing to an athletic audience is UK-based Caffeine Bullet which uses a chew format to deliver 85mg caffeine and 27 calories in each individually wrapped candy. Founded by ultramarathon runner David Hellard, Caffeine Bullet comes in ginger, mint and chocolate orange flavours.

Gummy supplement manufacturer TopGum formulated a collection of high-dosage caffeinated gummies, including its caffeinated cappuccino variety, Gummiccino, in espresso, cappuccino and mocha flavours. The manufacturer uses its microencapsulation technology, TopCaps, to enhance caffeine absorption and flavour. Two Gummicinos contain 40 mg of caffeine – the equivalent of an espresso shot.

3. Gum and mints

Functional chewing gum is reinvigorating the market which has struggled to recover since the pandemic. Jolt Energy Gum combines caffeine, guarana, ginseng and B vitamins to deliver a long lasting energy boost. Two pieces contain as much caffeine as a single cup of coffee.

For a punchier dose of caffeine, just a single Foosh Energy Mint delivers 85g of caffeine (25% more than a standard energy drink) as well as ginseng, taurine, and five B vitamins. Bawls Mints, by contrast have a much lower dose at 1mg caffeine per mint, while Penguin Mints, which comes in peppermint, chocolate mint and cinnamon flavours, contain 7 mg of caffeine per mint.

4. Bakery

Baked goods are also getting caffeinated. US-based start-up Power Up Foods uses green tea-derived caffeine in its cookies and brownies to target snackers looking for an energy boost, but without coffee-related jitters. Similarly, The Beast Energy Cookie brand which is available at Walmart includes 180 mg of caffeine from green tea as well as 10g added protein. And finally, Hostess Brands which was acquired by J M Smucker last year has introduced two new Boost Jumbo Donettes in chocolate mocha and caramel macchiato flavours to appeal to confectionery consumers looking for alternative energy sources. Each Donette contains 50-70mg of caffeine.

Coffee flavour is also trending

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Alongside the rise of caffeinated products in the confectionery market is a parallel trend for all things coffee flavoured. For example:

  • Inspired by the classic coffee cart, M&Ms mixed coffee with chocolate, creating its Caramel Cold Brew variety.
  • Marketed as the “perfect indulgent pick-me-up”, Cadbury has unveiled its twist on the Twirl with its new Iced Latte flavour.
  • Plamil Foods launched its coffee and chocolate collab, The Coffee Bar, in April. The UK’s ‘guilt-free indulgence’ brand hopes to capture a share of the coffee market.
  • The Frankford Candy and Dunkin collaboration saw the duo create Dunkin' iced coffee flavoured jelly beans in five flavours: Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Caramel Latte, Toasted Coconut, and Butter Pecan.

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