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As American palates grow more sophisticated, consumers are increasingly discovering that the combined flavors of sweet candy and savory or salty snacks can result in a whole new level of delicious complexity.
“There have been positive trends for snacks that are a blend of savory and sweet for several years,” affirms Sally Lyons Wyatt, EVP and practice leader at Chicago-based market research firm IRI. “Consumers often find they want something that is both sweet and savory, and there are now a number of options that fit that request. For example, chocolate-covered salty snacks grew 11.3 percent in dollar sales. Even the new breakfast cookies provide a combination of sweet and savory, targeting the early-morning and morning occasions.”
For her part, Jenn Ellek, senior director for trade marketing and communications at the Washington, D.C.-based National Confectioners Association (NCA), notes the “innovation addressing a multitude of trends that are driving business success for many of these savory/sweet items that straddle the snack and confectionery category. A good example is one of NCA’s Sweets & Snacks Expo’s New Product Innovation winners: Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Snappers,” a treat also incorporating pretzels. Ellek further points out that “both snacks and confectionery have seen very strong sales growth over the past year, well ahead of total edibles or total store growth. While in a way rival categories, hybrid products offer manufacturers the opportunity to extend their product lines and brands in other aisles in the store.”
The view is similar at retail. “Sweet and salty is huge right now, and driving innovation in both salty snacks and candy categories, with or without caramel, [with] variety and flavor options very much on trend,” says Eric Swenson, VP of center store at Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y Foods, which operates 67 stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts.