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NEW YORK CITY -- Fueled by better-tasting products, improved formulations, and heightened concern over weight gain in adults and children, sales of diet candy more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2004, according to a new report from market research firm Packaged Facts.
Diet candy sales reached $495 million in 2004, according to the study. While that is meagre in comparison to sales of regular chocolate and non-chocolate candies, the diet candy market's growth has far outpaced that of its full-calorie counterparts. Between 2000 and 2004, diet candy had a 34 percent compound annual growth rate. By comparison, chocolate reached 3.9 percent, while non-chocolate candy actually suffered a 2.5 percent decline.
"Though the low-carb craze revved up and perhaps overheated the market, diet candy will outlast any single nutritional or weight loss approach, given the versatility of low-sugar, low-carb, low-fat, and low-calorie product formulations," said Don Montuori, acquisitions editor of Packaged Facts. "Marketers can also leverage a new generation of artificial sweeteners and more sophisticated sweetener blends, along with the positive consumer recognition of branded sweeteners, such as Splenda."
Leading the charge in this market are low-sugar offerings. Though the first sugar-free confectionery was introduced in the late 1970s, according to ProductScan Online, launches of reduced-sugar products have nearly tripled since 1999. The versatility of many artificial sweeteners allows for manifold combinations to achieve just the right flavor, texture, and appearance.