Research reveals functional ingredients market for confectionery increases

Fresh industry research has found that for the confectionery and chocolate market, a notable portion of consumers are continuing to value products featuring functional natural ingredients, writes Neill Barston.

According to the UK-based FMCG Gurus group, 26% of global shoppers say that lack of time influences their choices of food, including snacks – with the ‘on-the-go’ market seemingly continuing the boom of recent years.

Consequently, consumers are increasingly seeking out a greater range of health-boosting product ranges, with confectionery increasingly offering healthier-option solutions.

As FMCG Gurus, which played a key role at this year’s World Confectionery Conference in Brussels, notes, this highlights that brands within the confectionery and chocolate market must promote products with a sense of efficacy, convenience and value. Some examples of this can include functional and conveniently nutritious snacks that do not compromise on taste or indulgence.

In addition, free-from claims are valued by consumers, and functional claims within the sports nutrition market are in high demand. However, it is important to note that these claims must be backed up with clinically proven evidence to avoid skepticism amongst consumers.

Kate Kehoe, Marketing Executive at FMCG Gurus, said: “With the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, consumer insights in the confectionery and chocolate market have shifted. Health has become a fundamental concern for consumers, which has meant that consumers have improved their dietary and lifestyle habits to improve their health and wellness.

“This has resulted in an increased health-conscious and proactive approach among consumers. Our consumer insights have revealed the increase in consumers adopting a long-term approach to their health, from 43% in 2019, to 52% in 2021. In addition, our findings have also found that a significant portion of consumers have been actively researching and educating themselves about their health. As a result, many consumers are expressing an interest in health-boosting ingredients in food and drink products.

“These findings demonstrate that the pandemic has made significantly influenced the consumers view on health, and has aided a prevention over cure approach. This means that consumers are not only addressing their health before experiencing any symptoms, but they are also contributing to their long-term health and wellness.”

As she added, the re-evaluation of health has had significant impacts on consumer snacking habits. The group’s consumer insights revealed that 44% of global consumers believe that their health has improved across the last twelve months. This highlights the proactive approach adopted by consumers and the positive impact that this health maintenance is causing.

The most significant area of ​​health that consumers have plans to address over the next twelve months is their immune health (66%). This indicates that brands must promote ingredients that support immune health in their ingredients lists and packaging, backed up with clinically-proven evidence.

Snacking trends

FMCG Gurus consumer insights have found that consumers have complex snacking habits, which include both the goal of staying healthy, while at times snacking on products for moments of indulgence and escapism. As a result, consumers are interested in products that are both conveniently nutritious and guilt-free. This highlights that consumers have become more aware of the increased risk of long-term problems that arise as a result of poor dietary habits.

Importantly, 34% of global consumers feel that leading a healthy lifestyle is expensive. This illustrates that price sensitivity is a major issue and that it is crucial for brands to address this at a time when the cost of living is having a significant impact on consumers lives. FMCG Gurus findings highlight that

price sensitivity and time scarcity are major barriers to healthy dietary habits. Due to this, the confectionery and chocolate industry should address this by ensuring that their products are good value for money.

In line with the rise of health-consciousness, guilt-free and conveniently nutritious products are in high demand. On a global scale, 56% of consumers have switched from traditional snacks, like chocolate and confectionery, to high protein and low sugar alternatives within the last twelve months. This highlights that consumers are looking to consume confectionery and chocolate products that are conveniently nutritious and health boosting. In addition to this, FMCG Gurus findings also reveal the that the consumers who have switched to these confectionery and chocolate snacks favor natural, high protein and multifunctional claims. This demonstrates that products that promote efficacy, convenience, value and naturalness will be most appealing to consumers.

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