NPD Trends: Consumers Demand More Creativity in Confectionery

January 2021

Today’s consumers still have a sweet tooth and show a growing preference for fun and indulgent confectionery products. According to the latest data from IRI, sales are up year-over-year for chocolate candy, non-chocolate candy, and sugar-free chocolate candy, as consumers increasingly turn to sweet treats as a source of comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic.1

Evolving consumer snacking habits, including a greater focus on health and wellness, will continue to influence new product innovation in the confectionery category.

Current new product development trends are aligned with three overarching themes:


1. Creativity and adventure

The desire for new food experiences continues to influence NPD innovation in the confectionery category, with brands striving to attract consumers by introducing new flavors and adding novel inclusions. More than half (54%) of consumers claim to be adventurous when trying new food and 57% have become more experimental with flavors in the last 5 years, according to a FMCG Gurus survey.2

In addition to popular sweet and savory pairings, brands are experimenting with hot and spicy flavors and sour notes derived from tropical fruits.3 Even vegetables, such as beetroot and purple sweet potato, are being combined with chocolate for added flavor and natural color. NPD teams are also innovating with distinctive inclusions inspired by baked desserts to elevate indulgence and add premium appeal for new chocolate products.

2. Better-for-you benefits

While flavor and taste remain the primary motivators for confectionery purchases, consumers also show a growing affinity for healthier alternatives that make them feel better about occasionally indulging in their favorite sweet snacks. According to Innova Market Insights, the number of new confectionery products making a reduced or low-sugar claim increased 21% between 2015 and 2019.4

Other “better-for-you” confectionery products offer enhanced nutritional benefits, such as energy-boosting protein or fiber to aid in digestion. Smaller portion sizes, including bite-size or snack-size formats, are also becoming more popular, as consumers look for more convenient ways to indulge throughout the day.


3. Simple, recognizable ingredients

The clean label trend continues to influence innovation across all food and beverage categories, and confectionery is no exception. Consumers are increasingly wary of preservatives and artificial additives meant to enhance a product’s flavor, appearance or shelf life, and prefer products that contain simple, recognizable ingredients. In fact, two thirds of global consumers say they try to avoid products with ingredients that are difficult to understand.4

Confectionery brands are responding to these trends by incorporating more natural plant-based ingredients into their formulations. The number of new chocolate, ice cream and confectionery products making a plant-based claim increased 55% annually from 2015 through 2019, according to Innova Market Insights.4

Elevate your confectionery products with freeze-dried or baked inclusions

To meet demand for cleaner and healthier options, confectionery brands are increasingly seeking out natural ingredients that not only reduce the need for artificial preservatives, but also add unique flavors, texture, or nutritional benefits to enhance consumer appeal.

Versatile and easy to blend, freeze-dried fruit pieces and powders are ideal for adding natural flavors, vibrant colors, and nutrition to a variety of confectionery products – from chocolate bars to fruit jellies. Freeze-dried ingredients also retain nearly all of the nutritional value of whole fruits, and use no added sugars, artificial preservatives or carriers. In some confectionery applications, freeze-dried fruit powders can have a natural sweetening effect, reducing the need for added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Sweet baked ingredients – available in a range of flavors including waffle and gingerbread – are ideal as toppings or inclusions for premium chocolate and confectionery products. All of Chaucer’s sweet baked ingredients are made with authentic ingredients and contain no additives or artificial preservatives, supporting a simpler label.

Our R&D team is constantly developing new application ideas and creating ingredient solutions that add real value for our customers. Learn more about how you can use freeze-dried and baked ingredients in your sweet applications, or contact us to request a sample or more information.



  1. “Latest IRI data offers insight into how COVID-19 is impacting candy sales,” Candy Industry. October 2020.
  2. “The 2020 consumer doesn’t want to compromise,” Candy Industry. February 2020.
  3. “Confectionery Market Snapshot,” The Food People Trend Hub. October 2020.
  4. “Ingredient Focus: Impact of global food trends on confectionery ingredients,” Food Ingredients First. September 2020.

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