1. C-stores are capitalising on ‘the Prime effect’ in confectionery

2. Sugar confectionery sales are up in convenience, driven by sharing formats and singles

4. Fruit gum is growing faster than mint +23% YOY

5. Pudding flavours are inspiring NPD

6. PMP products account for over a third of total sugar value sales in convenience

7. Government support might be waning for HFSS regs 

Spencer Court News Best One_American confectionery_closeup

1. C-stores are capitalising on ‘the Prime effect’ in confectionery

For social media-obsessed teens and adults the right confectionery can translate to serious internet clout. It’s one of the reasons the Prime energy drink proved so popular. Retailers know brands with American roots and relative on-shelf scarcity can command decent prices in c-stores, especially when signal-boosted by online influencers.

It’s enough to make Stuart Cordner, from Spar Comber Road in Belfast, bust out some Donald Trump-style superlatives.

“American brands like Nerds and Jolly Ranchers are just huge, huge, huge, huge,” he says.

“Teenagers and adults love them because of their rarity. They’ve seen them online, or they’ve been to America, and they know they can’t get them everywhere. The American sweets are just a massive growth area for us alongside our pick ‘n mix.”

Sarah Darlow-Stearn, from Best-one Spencer Court News in Corby, enthusiastically agrees.

“We do well with American sweets and it’s all driven by demand on YouTube,” she says.

“Kids watch the US YouTubers have sweets in their videos and just want what they’re having.”

Hancocks urges retailers to stock up on the trending sweets to appeal to younger customers and their parents who are spotting the trends on TikTok. Head of marketing Kathryn Hague agres : “Everyone wants to try the latest trend, and stocking up on popular products is a good way to drive sales and tempt new shoppers into stores.”

Stuart scores the US sweets from an independent supplier that is “not quite big enough to service the full symbol groups”, giving them a can’t-find-everywhere appeal. “It’s anything new and anything novel that does well,” says Stuart.

It also means that margins are fantastic - think around the 50% mark - with prices around £2.50 for a 100g bag of sweets. That’s no mean feat in such straitened times.

The only downside is that they’re subject to shrinkage because of the core teen audience and relatively small size. Another reason why Stuart makes sure the selection is in full view of checkouts it so that staff can keep a watchful eye on them.

 Back to top



2. Sugar confectionery sales are up in convenience, driven by sharing formats and singles


Right now food inflation is spiking faster than a diabetic’s blood sugar levels after a Haribo binge. It’s good news for brands’ balance sheets – but can mean stuttering sales of some lines at the checkout.

“Total sugar category value grew by +7.1% in the last year and is now worth £1.3 billion, [IRI],” says Andy Mutton, managing director at Storck UK. “This uptick can, in part, be attributed to inflationary pressures as value growth currently outstrips volume performance.” 

When you drill down into the c-store-specific data, value sales are seeing double digit growth and volumes are broadly flat at -0.3% (IRI). “The sugar category in the convenience channel has performed particularly well, growing ahead of the market with +12.8% [IRI],” says Mutton.

“This growth is driven by singles, which have grown by +14.4% in value sales and +2.7% in volume sales, and sharing formats which are +13.2% in value sales and +4.4% in volume sales in the last year [IRI]. While consumers continue to look for on-the-go single serve options, larger sharing formats are becoming popular too as consumers increasingly choose to spend more time entertaining and socialising with family and friends at home to save money. Stocking up on both formats will ensure that retailers meet these consumer needs.”

Sarah can appreciate why many consumers are opting for sharing bags. “Bagged sweets come at a pound price point or £1.25,” she says. “Obviously if you buy a tube it costs around 70p and for the extra 30p you get the whole bag – so value’s definitely a part of the appeal.”

 Back to top



Introducing the TikTok famous Juicy Drop Gummy Dipperz

Juicy Drop Gummy Dipperz

We are pleased to announce the eagerly anticipated launch of Juicy Drop Gummy Dipperz which is now available in stores across the UK! The launch is following the huge success in the US, which saw the product soaring to No.4 new confectionery item in 2021*. On top of this retail success story Gummy Dipperz went viral on TikTok creating a great demand for the product not only in the US but across the pond here in the UK. Soft chewy gummy sticks that dip into delicious thick sour gel so anyone can create their perfect mix of sweet and sour. Dip as much or as little as you want! Designed to be good for on-the-go, each resealable gummy cup is made with firm plastic and a lid that clips shut so it can travel nicely. Juicy Drop Gummy Dipperz comes in two mouth-watering sweet and sour flavours: Strawberry and Raspberry!

*US IRI L26W Sales ending 12.26.21, MULO, FE Non-Seasonal Non-Chocolate Confectionery


Sour sweets have always been a hit with kids daring each other to eat them, but video sharing online is making them even more popular and social media influencers are taking things to extremes with Sour versus Sweet challenges and drinks concoctions combining mega mixes of different candies and sour soft drinks.

Sarah says that, as well as the US sweets, Toxic Waste is proving very popular in her store, plus anything else with a ‘sour’ flavour profile.

“It’s really driven by kids and what they want to buy,” she says.

“We keep on top of trends by either kids coming in and asking for certain things, or the reps visiting and showing us what they’ve got.”

Hancocks says its top three trending sour sweets on TikTok are Zed Candy Screamers Big Lick, Warheads Extreme Sour 2 in 1 Snap-Ice Sticks and Bazooka Xtreme Juicy Drop Gummies. Kathryn Hague, head of marketing, says: “Sour flavours have always been a popular choice for independent retailers looking to appeal to younger customers. Now they’re able to choose from some of the biggest brands and most exciting confectionery from around the globe.”

Gum is also getting in on the action with the sour gum category growing 45% MAT (IRI). Mentos Sour Gum launched in Co-op at the end of last year.

Kim McMahon, brand manager of Mentos Gum, says: “Research shows that tangy sour flavours hold more appeal for younger demographics than traditional mint flavours. We’ve given a lot of thought to the taste experience during development - the crunchy outer shell gives way to the satisfying texture of the liquid fruit centre, combining to give this delicious sugar free gum its unique sour taste.”

  Back to top



4. Fruit gum is growing faster than mint +23% YOY


Also on the fruity front, Mars Wrigley has launched Sugar Free Extra Refreshers Strawberry Lemon into the gum market.

“New shoppers account for more than 80% of fruit gum growth [Kantar] and at present, fruit gum is growing faster than mint, with 23% growth year on year,” says Hannah Lee, senior brand manager at Extra.

Chupa Chups is taking full advantage of the popularity of fruity flavours, recently expanding its Big Babol portfolio to include Green Apple. The firm claims that apple flavoured gum is on trend, growing 595% vs LY (Circana). 

 Back to top



5. Pudding flavours are inspiring NPD

For 2023, brands are hoping that pudding-powered confectionery is going to be a big trend. It’s part of a wider push for sweets with added nostalgia appeal.

For example, Haribo is releasing Maoam Stripes Jelly and Ice Cream, which is billed as a “modern take on a classic party treat.” Sold as a limited-edition range, the products were created with childhood birthday parties and memories of celebrations in mind “no matter your age” after a poll of over 2,000 Brits commissioned by Maoam showed the popularity of jelly and ice cream as a top memory. 

Meanwhile, Mars Wrigley has launched Skittles Desserts (125g, RRP £1) in Cherry Cheesecake, Strawberry Ice Cream, Choco-Orange Cake, Lemon Pie and Blueberry Tart flavours.

The selection is inspired by insight that the number of under 35s eating fruity confectionery as a dessert has risen by 42.5% between 2020 and 2022 (Kantar). 

The flavours were developed after the firm observed how consumers turned to nostalgic foods during lockdown. For example, the Co-op’s Covid-19 Convenience Shopping and At-home Cooking Report showed that 37% of the nation revisited dishes from their childhood during lockdown, while a 2021 Waitrose report highlighted a resurgence of interest in nostalgic desserts, with Knickerbocker glory recipe searches on Waitrose.com up 171%. Skittles claims that these insights were key in the final flavour selections for the new range.

“90% of category growth in Fruity Confections is driven by NPD [Nielsen],” adds Ryan Pardo Roques, Skittles senior brand manager. “As the number one brand in the chewy partition, Skittles – complete with its history of powerful NPD category blockbusters – is perfectly placed to deliver on increasing demand for flavour innovation.”

Stuart agrees that innovation is crucial to sugar confectionery. “NPD is incredibly important,” he says. “We put new confectionery products by our tills where people always pick them up because it’s just something different.”

  Back to top



6. PMPs account for over a third of total sugar value sales in convenience


Trend-driven shoppers are happy to splash out on niche sweets to share on social media. However, elsewhere the cost-of-living crisis is shaping the category, especially format-wise.

“PMP products account for over 33% of total sugar value sales in convenience, worth £173m at retail and growing +13.2% in value and +10.5% in volume [IRI],” says Mutton. He points to the success of Werther’s PMPs within the convenience channel. “Alongside the strong growth (+10.4% in value; +10% in volume) of our Werther’s Originals Butter Candy PMP, our Chewy Toffee PMP (+10.5% in value; +29% in volume) and Sugar Free Butter Candy PMP (+8.8% in value; +18.1% in volume) are also performing well [IRI].

Mars Wrigley also recognises the demand for PMPs. “As the cost of living continues to be a pressure point for shoppers, the desire for products deemed to be good value for money is ever-growing,” says senior external communications manager Georgie Feldman. “PMP formats respond to this need by clearly displaying price to shoppers, offering reassurance of a fair cost for a high-quality product.”

The influence of the cost-of-living crisis is one of the biggest trends affecting the confectionery sector right now, adds Kathryn Hague, head of marketing at Hancocks, noting the popularity of PMPs. “Retailers should look to enhance their value offering in stores to provide great size and value for money,” she says.

Hancocks supply Bonds sharing bags, featuring a £1.25 PMP. The line Includes classics like Fruit Pastilles and Midget Gems. It also offers 50p Kids Sweet Bags including Sour Cherries and Yummy Bears.

Stuart believes that multipacks are also winning thrifty shoppers over. “They’re going for the multipacks and bigger packs that help them feel that they’re getting value for money,” he says.

  Back to top



7. Government support might be waning for HFSS regs

Any c-store retailer who has strolled around the mults recently will have seen the effect of High in Fat, Salt and Sugar (HFSS) location regs on confectionery. Lines have disappeared from impulse areas like tills to materialise deeper into stores.

“Vitally, the effect is less marked in convenience as the restrictions only apply to [certain] stores,” says Mutton.

But a number of stores have still had to shuffle their stock. “Our advice to retailers on navigating HFSS regulations is to trial different locations around the store for HFSS products,” Mutton adds. “For example, stock sweet treats alongside other impulse on-the-go items, especially near other snacks associated with nights in or lunchtime.”

Retailers can also take the opportunity to give HFSS-compliant sugar confectionery a turn in the spotlight. Werther’s Original offers a Sugar Free range of Butter Candies, Chocolate Flavour Butter Candies and Creamy Toffee, which have less than 20 calories per sweet, states Mutton. 

Meanwhile, Mars Wrigley is also tapping into healthier confectionery with its first HFSS-compliant fruity confectionery launch. Starburst Fruit Squares were released in February and contain 80% apple puree.

Affected retailers might be cheered by Rishi Sunak pushing the forthcoming HFSS BOGOF restrictions back to 2025. And with his increasing rhetoric about people’s “right to choose”, and the unfairness of government restricting consumers’ weekly shop, maybe they’ll never see the light of day.

It’s certainly a sweet thought for retailers.

  Back to top