1. Sugar confectionery is worth a sweet £659m in convenience

2. Tik Tok has transformed the market

3. This year has seen a fresh surge of NPD in sweets

4. Symbols and indies have an impressive 28.2% value share of the sweets market

5. Consumer concerns about sweeteners aren’t going away



1. Sugar confectionery is worth a sweet £659m in convenience

Shoppers looking for a sweet-talkin’, sugar-coated candy man [or woman] should make a beeline for their nearest convenience store. Because, with TikTok creators breathing life back into the category post-Covid, there’s plenty of positive counter-top chat around sweetie sales.

“Sweets are absolutely huge for us,” says Nishi Patel from Londis Bexley Park. “Our American sweets in particular do really well and Jolly Ranchers are massive. We’ve probably got around 10 different variants of them. Also, the hanging £1.25/£1.35 bags of sweets just sell all day long and Squashies are probably the fastest sellers. We’ve also got a big range of Haribo too.”

American sweets are also winners for Sue Nithyanandan from Costcutter Epsom. “It’s funny that there’s all this nanny state stuff about healthy eating, but our American sweets do incredibly well!” she says.  

These days sweet sales aren’t limited to kids (especially as trendy sweet choices can command a relatively high price point). Yet Sue makes sure they’re catered for too with traditional favourites. 

“We have a sort of mini children’s range with Bond doing things like milk bottles and flying saucers. They go for three for £1.50,” she says.

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Freeze Dried Sweets_Serge Notay

2. Tik Tok has transformed the market

 The ‘TikTok made buy it’ mentality is busy transforming the world of sweets. Which means canny c-store retailers need to have one eye on social media when they’re seeking new stock.

 “I have to keep up with TikTok just because of the ever-changing madness that goes on there!” says Nishi.

“My nephews will show me videos and tell me that these are the products we need to get in. Basically, if people see products on TikTok, and then in your shop, that’s something they all want to be associated with.”

Right now, Nishi says that TikTok is driving demand for his freeze-dried sugar confectionery (sweets with the moisture sucked out). He originally wondered if they would sell at £3.99 a pop – or whether customers would think he was trying it on. But he’s had the line in since September 2023 and it’s still going strong.

However, he’s careful to point out that this approach wouldn’t necessarily work everywhere.

“We have a lot of transient customers and I want to keep things new and fresh with these kinds of products,” he says.

“But if you had a more community-focused shop I think that when all your community has come in and tried them they may not come back for more.”

On the brand side, sweetie giants haven’t been slow to harness TikTok trends.

“TikTok is significantly transforming sugar confectionery, particularly through product discovery,” says Clare Newton, trade marketing manager at Swizzels. “In the sugar confectionery sector, TikTok excels at driving trends and influencing consumers to try new products and experiment.”

Over at Hancocks, head of marketing Kathryn Hague says it’s supporting retailers to hop on the #candysalad trend, where users clock up views with sweet takes on the traditionally savoury summer standard.

“Candy salads are dominating TikTok feeds, with over 86,000 #candysalad videos captivating confectionery lovers and racking up two billion views,” she says. “Because of this, share bags and pick and mix ranges are having a huge impact on sales for convenience stores. By stocking up on a wide variety of share bag options, retailers can cash in on the trend to maximise sales.”

She adds that, once again, American choices are key.

“Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon, Warheads Sour Jelly Beans, Tootsie Dots and Warheads Sour Ooze Chews are all available in a theatre box format – perfect for sharing in a candy salad with friends,” she says.

Sue reckons that TikTok is behind another game-changing c-store trend: sour sweets.

“I think that people are after those extreme flavours and that’s driven by social media,” she says. “It’s a bit of challenge that adds some excitement – like how long can you suck a sour sweet for?”

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Boost your sales with the UK’s #1 Lollipop

Convenience Store - Product lock up_MPP-01.v1


Mega Push Pop is the #1 Lollipop in the UK. With over 4 million lollipops sold in the past 12 months, and an impressive 121% growth year on year, this kid’s favourite lollipop is a must stock for savvy retailers.*1

With a total market size of over £1.4bn, sugar confectionary remains a formidable business opportunity for ambitious convenience retailers. The Convenience sector is growing ahead of the market at an impressive 18%.*2

Building on the current USA product trend, Mega Push Pop is available in two delicious flavours: Watermelon and Cherry Pie.

Stock up on UK’s #1 Lollipop now! 

*1 Circana Total Marketplace , Lollipops, Value Sales, MAT to 18/2/2024

*2 IRI EXT MAT Value Growth % YA – Convenience GB 18.4% & Symbols & Independents 18%



3. This year has seen a fresh surge of NPD in sweets

More than many other categories, sweets have always been about the thrill of the new. This year in particular brands seem to have gone full-on Willy Wonka with a slew of new flavours and formats.

“Consumers are always looking for fun, seasonal flavour variations to try in confectionery,” says Matt Boulter, UK sales director at Mars Wrigley. And this year the brand is putting its weight behind fruity tastes.

To bolster its fruity gum portfolio Mars Wrigley has launched new EXTRA Sugarfree Watermelon, backed by a £2.1m media spend supporting its total fruit range. 

Elsewhere, it’s tapping into different textures with Skittles Giants Gooey. “This innovation taps into the trend for fun and unexpected tastes while capitalising on the growth in fruit-inspired confectionery which has seen the category increase at a CAGR of 4.3% [Nilesen 2023],” says Boulter.

Meanwhile, Fruit-tella has expanded into jellies with its Fruit-tella Curiosities while Mentos scored a category first with Mentos Discovery, promising 14 different flavour of sweets in one roll.

“Mixed fruit flavours dominate the Hard Chews Sweets category, worth £71m in L52w [Total Markets incl. Discounters], with recent research proving there is a burgeoning appetite among sweet eaters for exotic flavours,” says Mark Roberts, marketing and trade marketing director at Perfetti Van Melle.

Also on the multi-flavour tip, Chupa Chups flavour Playlist XXL offers a fusion of five, mouth-watering flavours in one lollipop, with Cola, Cherry, Lemon, Lime and Strawberry bubble-gum at its core.

This taste tsunami means that retailers are working hard to keep up. “Squashies have gone from about two variations to eight!” says Nishi.

“I remember the Minions products we had to get in – and the new one’s Strawberries and Cream, right? That’s a summer flavour so everyone’s going to want that at the moment.”

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Middle aisle confectionery

4. Symbols and indies have an impressive 28.2% value share of the sweets market

It’s not surprising shoppers are going to c-stores for the latest sweet buys – according to Circana, c-stores and sugar confectionery go together like pick and mix.

Alex Lawrence, senior strategic insight director at Circana says that symbols’ and indies’ 28.2% value share of the market “is a very significant over-trade versus food: making sweets a key market for the channel.”

But that’s not the whole story on sweets. TikTok trends may be injecting some fun into the category, yet overall growth has slowed.

“Value sales in the latest 13 weeks (L13W) to May 11 were up just 3.4% on last year (LY), versus a latest 12 month (L12M) growth of 11.7% up on LY,” he says.

 “[This is due to] slowing price inflation, with average unit price up 11.5% in the L13W vs LY. But prices in sweets have stayed way higher for longer compared to other categories with the average unit price for food just 2.5% up on LY in the L13W.”

These high prices have naturally affected unit sales, so manufacturers have invested in promos to pump up volume. Lawrence says that to stay ahead of the game, symbols and indies need the same access to them as the mults.

“Symbol and independent channels need to push manufacturers for a balanced approach to protect volumes in the channel, through effective Price Marked Pack promotion,” he says.

Brands that have stepped up with PMPs seem to have been rewarded.

“Alongside the growth (+6.1%) of our Werther’s Originals Butter Candy PMP, our Chewy Toffee PMP (+30% in value) and Creamy Filling Butter Candy PMP (+15% in value) are also performing very well [IRI Unify Convenience 52we 25.02.2023 excludes chewing gum],” says Andy Mutton, managing director at Storck UK.

Plus, as Newton points out, sweets have always been a relatively low-cost way to provide a bit of treat-time.

“Sweets are fairly well-protected from the cost-of-living crisis and are seen as an affordable way to treat yourself. In fact, over two-fifths of UK consumers agree that eating sweets is a low-cost way to boost their mood [Mintel 2023], making it a lucrative product for retailers,” she says.

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5. Consumer concerns about sweeteners aren’t going away

In the last few years manufacturers have been given a big HFSS-shaped shove into healthier recipes. In the wider category sugar-free is here to stay, with brands getting creative by replacing sugar with everything from monk fruit to stevia.

Yet, Richard Jefferson from Epicurium reckons that a mood shift might be imminent as gut health comes to the fore in shoppers’ minds.

“The consumer perception towards sugar alternatives seems to be in some turmoil at the moment,” he says.

“Ongoing studies appear to express concerns over the impact of these alternatives on gut health, which in of itself is becoming a bigger trend. The focus on gut healthy snacking may begin to have an impact on the confectionery category should brands begin to meet this growing area of interest.”

He adds that “brands have begun to align themselves with cleaner ingredients to meet the increasing number of consumers who are demanding plant-based options.”

In the mainstream, this means manufacturers are transitioning their sweets to vegan-friendly options. For example, Fruit-tella has now transitioned to a vegan recipe across the entire range, “meaning that the brand can now deliver fruity joy to an even bigger audience of consumers,” according to Roberts.

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