Global Insights Series: Rise of Sugar-free Confectionery

The global confectionery market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8% in the next seven years, which means that responding to current trends is sure to provide a sweet return. The market is growing and diversifying, and this is due in part to income rises in markets like China and India, and consumers fascination with the exotic leading them towards confectionary from the Middle East.

With markets growing around the world we’ve identified four trends in the confectionery market; a desire to reduce sugar, natural produce, clean label, and adopting packaging changes that steer consumers towards a sweeter choice.

Sugar-free is a topic that has been on the agenda since we have been told that apples keep the doctor away, but as everyone can attest, it is not a walk in the park.

Sugar reduction attempts often compromise taste, mouthfeel, and composition of confectionery and sweet treats, sometimes to the extent that your sweet no longer feels like a treat. Furthermore, a spotlight on obesity has been intensified due to the pandemic adding to concerns around personal health & well-being and fuelling our need for sugar-free alternatives.

Not only is there a continuous uplift in demand for convenience eating, there is also a change in the types of products. Various soluble fibres are acting as a means for sugar reduction, and when partnered with intense natural sweeteners, can reduce sugar in confectionery by 50%. It is likely that with greater experimentation within the area this percentage will just increase until we are seeing entirely sugar-free sweets and chocolate, without our taste buds being any the wiser. If manufacturers can respond to this demand for healthier and sugar-free sweets, then the confectionery market will not just grow, but boom.

Natural flavours and colours are another trend that we are seeing across the food manufacturing board including the confectionery sector, adhering to consumer calls for more identifiable ingredients. The ‘clean label challenge’ is even making its way into the Asian market with over 60% of new confectionery products in the APAC making clean label claims. Research shows that the brain connects colour with expected flavour and taste of a product, which is why colour is one of the most important factors influencing consumers purchasing choices. Nearly two thirds of consumers wish for confectionery and beverages to be free from artificial colours and so by using fruit and vegetable extracts manufacturers can provide a kaleidoscope of colours, all under the natural umbrella.

The pandemic created a paradigm of people searching for treats and small pleasures to brighten their days and one thing that we are seeing within the market is a lot of household names rebranding popular sweet treats in smaller, more nutritional friendly packaging. We are seeing a lot of resealable packaging, allowing for a little now, a little later mentality, as well as all together smaller sizes that allow consumers to indulge without the guilt.

Highlighted below are some recent product developments, from around the globe, in the sugar-free confectionery space.

UK – Fruitella

Sugar free sweets, three new SKUs in various formats, covering gums, foams and fruit drops. Marketing themselves as a ‘little bit better’.

Singapore – Avida Health

Avida Health will launch a chocolate ball functional food targeted at improving kids immunity amid COVID-19. This was in the pipeline, but expedited in the midst of the pandemic.

Singapore/Australia – Sugarless Confectionary

An Australian based confectionery brand, planning to expand into Singapore with a Stevia product. This is significant as previous attempts to use Stevia in chocolate have been rejected by Singapore, but now have the green light. Expect more sugar-free confectionery in Singapore.

New Zealand – Rebel Creamery Keto Ice Cream

14 different flavours with no added sugar. Being made with whole ingredients like cream and eggs, these products are able to maintain the texture and mouthfeel of regular ice cream whilst being free from sugar. They are a great example of the benefits of using fruit sweeteners such as monk fruit to replace sugar.  

Australia – The Natural Confectionery Co.

Reduced Sugar Snakes lollies are new for this popular brand. Utilising a combination of methods, these sugar-free sweets have taken a popular formula and adjusted the sugar content by using natural sweeteners, but without compromising the taste.

Please note, we are not affiliated, associated, or in any way officially connected with the brands and products mentioned within this post. 

Sign Up & Stay In Touch

Sign up to receive news on emerging trends, ingredients and access to market reports from industry leading suppliers.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.