Even confectionery getting the clean-label treatment

Innova Market Insights
Thursday, 15 November, 2012

When sugar cravings hit, all thoughts of health tend to go out the window. If you’re going to indulge, why not go for the sugariest, fattiest thing available? It’s not quite that simple, according to Innova Market Insights.

Despite health not usually being a key driver in confectionery purchase and consumption - especially when it comes to impulse purchases - increasing consumer interest in naturalness is having an effect on the confectionery sector.

Almost 9.5% of all confectionery launches in 2011-12 used either natural or additive-/preservative-free claims, or both. In addition, fewer than 9% of new products featured claims about sugar, such as sugar-free, low-sugar or no added sugar. Organic and low-fat claims accounted for 3.3% and 2% respectively.

The USA and western Europe saw far higher interest in claims relating to naturalness, additives and preservatives, with the US seeing 16% of new products with this type of claim. 15% of new confectionery products in western Europe had these claims.

Sugar confectionery launches particularly reflected the trend of natural, additive- and preservative-free claims, accounting for over 15% of total launches. In comparison, 9% of new chocolate products sported this claim.

This may change in future, however, with large companies like Nestlé UK announcing the removal of artificial additives from confectionery lines. Nestlé is replacing more than 80 ingredients with natural alternatives in its UK portfolio, and both Mars and Cadbury have taken similar steps to reduce artificial ingredients.

While stevia recently gained EU approval, relatively few of the stevia-sweetened products launched to date have been in the confectionery market. Only 5% of new products launched in 2011-12 included stevia - and this includes products launched in Asia, where stevia has been in use for many years.

Stevia-sweetened product launches have increased sharply, more than quadrupling over a one-year period. Innova anticipates that the perceived benefits of a natural, tooth-friendly, low-calorie sweetener in improving the nutritional profile and image of both sugar and chocolate confectionery products is likely to continue to appeal to the industry in product development terms.

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