Consumers' Desire for Affordable Treats Lifts Candy Category

Shifting consumer behaviors combined with inflation saw confectionery reach $42.6 billion in sales last year.
Young woman holding a handful of candy

WASHINGTON D.C. In 2022, confectionery category dollar sales grew 11.1 percent over 2021 and 22.1 percent over 2019, according to a new report from the National Confectioners Association (NCA).

The fourth annual State of Treating report found that consumers view chocolate and candy as a fun part of life (81 percent) and as an affordable treat (74 percent), which combined with inflation reaching a 40-year high, helped to drive $42.6 billion in sales last year. Growth projections take the total category to $54.3 billion in 2027. 

"With high marks for favorability and permissibility, along with the majority of consumers agreeing that confectionery is an affordable treat, chocolate and candy sales grew despite economic pressures," said John Downs, NCA president and CEO. "Consumers continue to treat with chocolate and candy to enhance their emotional well-being, celebrate holidays and enjoy everyday moments."

The sales numbers support previous data seen in earlier customer analyses. Candy ranked at the top of online buyer search trends in 2022, while shifts away from eating out and out-of-house entertainment mean more consumers are snacking at home.

Other key findings from the NCA report include:

  • 79 percent of consumers agree that physical health and emotional well-being are interconnected, and 86 percent agree that it is fine to occasionally treat yourself with chocolate or candy;
  • 78 percent believe confectionery sharing and gifting are great traditions;
  • 61 percent of shoppers look for confectionery products they have never purchased before, prioritizing innovation; and
  • 43 percent of consumers prefer to learn about a brand's environmental, social and governance efforts from the package label.

The report offers insights that fuse proprietary NCA consumer survey findings with syndicated category and channel performance data. Shopper information was collected using an online survey conducted in December 2022 among a national sample of 1,567 consumers between the ages of 18 and 75. The survey findings are overlaid with IRI retail measurement and household panel data. Future market predictions are provided by Euromonitor. The study was conducted by 210 Analytics.

The full 2023 State of Treating may be read here.

Washington, D.C.-based NCA is a leading trade organization for the U.S. confectionery industry and advocates for an environment that enables candy makers to thrive, as well as celebrating their contributions to culture, society and the economy.