SOME 75% of adults regularly buy or eat candy. Those with the biggest sweet tooth are 18- to 24-year-olds living in households with five or more people with or without children, according to Simmons Market Research Bureau.
Candy and gum are among the most widely distributed products in an estimated 1.5 million locations. Retailers sell about 90% of candy, and often the purchase is made on impulse or as a treat when someone feels stressed.
Chocolate Cravings Candy lovers are most fond of chocolate, but the market share for non-chocolate candy increased about 3% during the 1990s. As of 1998 the market share for chocolate stood at 61.5% vs. 35.2% for non-chocolate, based on manufacturers’ shipments.
Simmons research reveals that 38 million people eat six or more candy bars a month, while 49 million eat three to five candy bars in a month. The most popular brands include M&Ms, Hershey, Reese’s, Snickers, Milky Way, Nestle, Twix, Cadbury and Heath.
About 62.8% of Americans eat hard candy or breath mints each month. About 20% are considered heavy buyers, eating at least six rolls of candy per month. Half the hard candy and breath-mint consumers eat between two and five rolls of it in a month’s time.
Candy sales are projected to increase 4% to 6% during the next few years. The faster growing non-chocolate category is expected to expand between 6% and 7%, while chocolate sales go from 3% to 5%, according to a research report from Kalorama Research LLC.
As the population ages, much of the future growth in candy consumption is projected to occur among adults, especially for products with reduced fat and calories and in the emerging organic candy category.
- Americans spend an estimated $23.5 billion annually for 7.3 billion pounds of candy. Per capita annual consumption for all kinds of candy (except chewing gum) exceeds 25 pounds.
- About 3.3 billion pounds of chocolate candy is sold yearly for $13 billion. Another 3.3 billion pounds of non-chocolate candy is purchased for $7.5 billion. About 500 million pounds of chewing gum is bought annually for $2 billion.
- People in New England and the Midwest tend to eat the most candy. Nationwide consumption peaks around Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
- Worldwide, the United States ranks fifth in sugar candy consumption and ninth in chocolate consumption. Denmark has the biggest sweet tooth for sugar candy and Switzerland consumes the most chocolate.
- Sugar-free candy is most popular with adults older than 55. Buyers of sugar-free hard candies typically spend more per transaction than people who buy sugar candy. The average sugar-free candy transaction is $2.45 compared with $1.75 for sugar candy sales.
- Chocolate is the favorite candy flavoring for 52% of Americans, especially when it’s combined with peanut butter. Berry and vanilla flavors tie for second place, with each preferred by 12% of candy lovers.
- By a 2-1 margin, milk chocolate is preferred over dark chocolate, but the taste preference for dark chocolate increases as people age. Among consumers 18 to 24 years old, only 11% prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, while 37% of consumers between 45 and 54 years old favor dark over milk chocolate.
Sources: Chocolate Manufacturers Association, National Confectioners Association, AC Nielsen