Reformulating Confectionery to Meet Consumer Demand


To craft confectionery products that sell in Europe, address these recently identified market gaps

KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • Between 2015 and 2016 there was a 1 billion increase in confectionery and snack sales in Europe.
  • Consumer demand falls into two main categories: health and experience.
  • Some trends seem complimentary, while others are a bit more at odds with one another.
  • Manufacturers may want to address some or all of these with new and reformulated products.

Despite the current war on sugar, consumers are still indulging in confectionery. In 2016, Western Europeans spent around €1 billion more on confectionery and snacks than they did in 2015, according to Nielsen, and other reports project these figures will continue to grow.

But even as consumers spend more on confectionery, they’re becoming increasingly specific about what they want.

When people indulge in confectionery, they’re seeking out more than just a treat—our Kerry Europe research shows that they want to satisfy a sweet craving associated with childhood, try something completely new or eat a dessert that falls into the better-for-you category. They may even want all three at once.

For manufacturers, the challenge is to elevate sweets with new and natural ingredients while blending them into innovative twists on best-loved classics. Here are five areas our consumer insights teams are seeing growth; confectionery manufacturers may want to consider these when launching new products or reformulating existing ones.

For all the hype around novelty, there’s a strong case for creating confectionery products that harken nostalgia: People are more inclined to try foods they recognize and remember, such as those recorded in their childhood memories, according to a study in the journal “Neuron”. In the marketplace, there is a definite element of nostalgia linked to confectionery and the joy sweets can bring to people young and old. Recently, we’ve seen an uptick in traditional dessert­-inspired sweets—options that are reminiscent of or wholly emulate popular items from decades past. There’s also been an increase in adult sweets with flavour profiles inspired by cocktails and alcohol.

Sugar Reduction
With an increasing number of health issues linked to sugar, consumers are looking to limit sugar intake. But people don’t necessarily want to give up the sweet taste when they enjoy confectionery treats. As a result, the industry is innovating on sugar reduction, looking at ways to create clean label, better-for-you products that still taste sweet. At Kerry, we’ve had success with TasteSense, our taste modulation solution that reduces sugar by up to 30% while maintaining the sweetness, mouthfeel and masking abilities that come from actual sugar. TasteSense does not contain polyols, unlike most other sugar reduction solutions on the market.

Gelatin Replacement
Gelatin is another confectionery ingredient consumers are trying to avoid. Sweets such as gummies, aerated candies, soft chews and marshmallows are all traditionally made using gelatin. Because it’s animal-derived, vegetarian and vegan consumers are increasingly looking for—and steering clear of—“gelatin” on ingredient lists. Gelatin replacement is something we are really noticing in the market, with an increasing number of key confectionery products that have made the shift now claiming “vegan” on the front of pack. (In 2016, 18% of German food and beverage launches and 11% of UK ones were vegan, according to Mintel.) Manufacturers everywhere are looking for new and innovative ways to overcome this challenge and meet consumer demand. Two solutions include Hyfoama and Sherex, our texturants that emulate the texture of gelatin, adding lovely softness to sweets.

Natural Ingredients
Customers are now, more than ever, attuned to what they’re consuming and want food products made of natural ingredients. While confectionery was by no means the first category affected by the worldwide clean label trend, we’re beginning to see customers search for sustainable, natural solutions, especially in sweets commonly consumed by children. When it comes to natural confectionery ingredients, there’s a gap in the market, although suppliers (including Kerry) are quickly responding with fair trade chocolate, sustainable vanilla, natural fruit flavours and more. As with other clean label categories, calling out clean label claims—from  simply using the term “natural” to highlighting specific ingredients—is a growing trend in confectionery.

Multisensorial Experiences
As consumers, we are living in a true “experience economy” with people—especially millennials—spending more on experiences. This has pervaded confectionery, where multisensorial is a natural fit—you can capture many different tastes, textures and sensations in just one bite. For example, there are many ways to combine different flavours, such as by using slow release and melting microgranules. Texture is another big area in which multisensorial can come into play: one treat could have a crunchy sugar coating over a soft chewy marshmallow and another could have a surprisingly gooey core. More than any other trend, this zest for experimentation and novelty has allowed us to transform our lab into a playground to develop new concepts.

The chefs, flavourists and food scientists on our global confectionery team are constantly innovating. Explore our website to learn more about our confectionery offerings, our custom sweet solutions and our work in taste modulation and sugar reduction.  

Back to KerryDigest

Get KerryDigest articles delivered to your inbox

Related content: