Snacks and candy are the new breakfast foods.
Confectionary makers are eyeing the breakfast table with candies and snacks that have flavors ranging from maple and yogurt to peaches and cream, treat manufacturers who gathered in Chicago on Tuesday were told.
The big changes in snacks and candies are being pushed by millennials who like to experiment with flavor combinations such as coconut, honey, cream, coffee and wasabi, according to Larry Levin, executive vice president at IRI, a market-research firm.
“Millennials have a grazing mentality and are multicultural in nature,” Levin said. “Because of their experimental nature, they are changing how the snacks market is evolving,” Levin said at the 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo hosted by the National Confectioners Association, a lobby of confectionery manufacturing firms.
He said millennials also prefer smaller portions that match their on-the-go lifestyles, and they tend to check product labels for attributes such as organic, natural and non-genetically modified and also research social-media sites for reviews of snacks and treats.
Most Americans — across all demographic groups — enjoy candy about twice a week, averaging less than 50 calories per day, said John Downs, the association’s president and chief executive.
“Our consumers are concerned about sugar. But they also appreciate health benefits like chewing sugar-free gum after meals and the health benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa,” Downs said.
But while millennials are fueling the growth in snacks and candy, baby boomers spend more in terms of absolute dollars — about $24 billion last year — splurging to entertain grandchildren and snapping up treats as a way of taking nostalgic trips back to their childhoods, Levin said.
“Boomers are not a dying breed,” Levin told a packed audience; 630 makers of sweets and treats including cookies, gums and mints registered for the expo. IRI figures show boomers purchased 41 percent of snacks and 46 percent of candy in the 52 weeks that ended in April.
U.S. candy retail sales grew 1.9 percent to $24 billion in the 52 weeks that ended in April, and snacks generated $38 billion, up 2.7 percent, according to IRI data.
Nutritional health bars posted the fastest growth among snacks; health-conscious consumers like protein bars and meat snacks because of their perceived nutritional value.
Potato chips are the most-consumed snack in the U.S., with a market share of 19 percent, followed by tortilla chips (12 percent), nuts (12 percent), salted snacks (10 percent) and nutritional bars (7 percent).
Levin said convenience stores are the most preferred channel for buying snacks and candies due to “on-the-go snacking by millennials seeking passionate treats at affordable prices.”