The National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) 2021 “State of Treating” report, released during the trade organization’s virtual State of the Industry Conference, provided ample evidence of the confectionery category’s strength in the face of a life-altering pandemic. The report combines shopper insights and sales results to offer a dynamic and comprehensive look at the confectionery industry.
“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,” admitted John Downs, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based 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.”
Among the report’s key insights into the category, which experienced $36.7 billion in sales over the past year:
- Sales of chocolate grew 4.2%, while nonchocolate candy grew 2.9%.
- 61% of shoppers altered their confectionery-buying patterns during the pandemic.
- 41% of consumers purchased more value packs with individually wrapped treats.
- Households buying chocolate and candy online at least twice in 2020 ballooned 76%, and the annual online dollars per buyer rose 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,” added Downs. “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 release of the 2021 State of Treating report, made possible by East Greenville, Pennsylvania-based Blommer Chocolate Co., coincides with the second year of NCA’s “Thrive in 2025” five-year strategic plan. The plan lays out such goals for the organization as beefing up its advocacy and communications capabilities, identifying future disruptive trends, and developing positive and meaningful thought leadership for the industry.