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Grocery Sees Healthy Gains in Candy: Report

NCA’s State of Treating finds chocolate up 10.5% in 2020 in grocery outlets
Photograph: Shutterstock

The National Confectioners Association’s annual State of Treating report shows grocery-store dollar sales of chocolate candy grew 10.5% in 2020 and nonchocolate was up 9.9%. Convenience, meanwhile, saw chocolate gains of 1.7% and nonchocolate 4.4%.

The NCA released the 2021 report during its virtual State of the Industry Conference on March 9. Made possible by Blommer Chocolate Co., the 2021 report offers a picture of the strength of the confectionery category, even during an unprecedented year, the association said.

The report combines shopper insights and sales results to provide a comprehensive look at the confectionery industry and the special connection that consumers have with chocolate, candy, gum and mints. Presented annually, the State of Treating report offers an integrated look at the confectionery shopper and the trends effecting purchasing patterns.

“When we debuted the 2020 State of Treating report at the beginning of March last year, we never could have imagined the tectonic shift in consumer behaviors and the retail landscape that was about to occur,” said John Downs, president and CEO of NCA. “This year’s report offers an important insight: People turn to chocolate and candy as a special way of bringing us together and play a critical role in finding safe and creative ways to stay connected to those we care about.”

Key trends from the report include:

  • Overall, sales of chocolate grew 4.2% and nonchocolate grew by 2.9%.
  • Grocery and online channels both outperformed convenience.
  • The drug channel saw 5% sales declines in both chocolate and nonchocolate.
  • 77% of consumers feel that good emotional well-being leads to better physical health and makes it possible to enjoy life and be happier.
  • 61% of shoppers changed up their confectionery purchasing patterns during the pandemic.
  • 41% of people bought more value packs with individually wrapped treats.
  • Households purchasing chocolate and candy online at least twice in 2020 increased 76%, and the annual online dollars per buyer increased by 14.3%.

“Amidst the uncertainty this year, the confectionery category has remained resilient, which is a true testament to how chocolate and candy remain an important aspect of our collective emotional well-being,” Downs said. “Whether it’s a quick escape for parents from the chaos of balancing work from home with virtual school, a celebration of a milestone moment or simply sending a treat to a friend from afar, chocolate and candy have helped Americans stay connected even when we couldn’t be together.”

The Washington-based National Confectioners Association is the trade organization that promotes the role of chocolate, candy, gum and mints in a balanced lifestyle and the companies that make these treats.

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