With U.S. consumers expected to spend nearly $3 billion on Halloween candy in a few weeks, I wanted to get a sense of where the organic candy space is heading and what consumer trends — ingredients, products, sweeteners — are driving the market.
Here is what four leaders of organic candy brands had to say.
Several years ago, consumers were looking for organic alternatives to their favorite classics, like salted caramels, peanut butter cups, chocolate covered almonds, and gummy bears, but as of late, demand has increased for more trendy flavor profiles, like those that include goji, matcha, chia, and coconut butter, especially among Millennials. Anything sour, particularly for gummies, is always on trend and in demand.
Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of requests for CBD chocolates and gummies. There is huge potential and plenty of room for innovation in this category. We also see that consumers are loving organic vegan white chocolate and vegan ‘milk’ chocolate options, using coconuts, almonds, and cashews, so we expect to see an expansion of these types of products, with unique flavor inclusions as well.
In terms of sweeteners, agave and organic cane sugar seem to be less in demand. Monk fruit is starting to gain traction, and there might be more innovation with that and with stevia. By far, however, more and more consumers are looking for coconut palm sugar, and we believe this will be the next most popular sweetener.
— Kimberly Silver Elgarbi, CEO/Founder — HunnyBon
There are two key trends that I have been seeing as of late, both of which are focused around vegan ingredients.
The first is a push for gelatin-free candies because gelatin is made from different parts of cattle, chickens and other animals. A good number of companies in the market had used gelatin in the past but are now offering gelatin-free SKUs.
The other is the use of carnauba wax on jelly beans. Derived from a species of a Brazilian palm tree, carnauba is used as an alternative to beeswax — which is not vegan — in order to provide the shine to jellybeans that so many consumers are used to and expect.
— Piper Cochrane, Founder/CEO — The Organic Candy Factory
We still see a strong propensity toward imitating existing legacy candy formats (M&Ms, Skittles, Starbursts, etc.) but with organic ingredients. We look forward to the future where new candy ideas will be launched with organic attributes as a way to bring more innovation to the space. This will show people that organic is not just a better version of old candies but is a space where new ideas are born.
For most consumers, I believe the amount of sugar is more important than the kind of sugar. For natural consumers, however, the level of processing is important. Cane sugar is better than white sugar. Coconut palm sugar is growing in prominence due to added benefits to the planet and personal health. Agave is losing its halo due to it being like high-fructose corn syrup. Paleo-friendly is big now, so sugars not derived from grains are a boon. Overall, minimally processed sugar appears to be most important to natural and organic consumers.
— JJ Rademaekers, Founder/CEO — JJ’s Sweets and Cocomels
Allergy awareness and demand for allergy-friendly candy have driven consumers toward organic candy as well as to candy with colors and flavors from vegetables and fruits instead of artificial ingredients. Sour flavors are still really popular, but fun and fierce flavors are on the upswing. Consumers are becoming more adventurous and are seeking out exotic, spicy and even extreme flavors.
Even though consumers are seeking out clean ingredients and have a better understanding about the benefits of healthy eating, they still want indulgences. That is playing out in the market as organic candy sector growth continues to outpace the broader market. Millennials are driving the trend toward non-chocolate candy.
— Torie Burke, CEO/Co-Founder — Torie & Howard
Have a great day!
Max Goldberg, Founder
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* Maine Harvest Credit Project is now the country’s first-ever credit union to lend exclusively to farmers and food entrepreneurs, all with the goal of boosting Maine’s growing agricultural economy.
* Eliot Coleman, one of the nation’s most revered and famous organic farmers, has just updated his book The New Organic Grower, a must-read for anyone starting a small farm.
* On November 8th in New York City, Made Safe and the Good Housekeeping Institute will be hosting the second annual Raise the Green Bar Summit, which will focus on maximizing a brand’s sustainability efforts. Dr. Phil Landrigan will be giving a keynote address on the epidemiological impact of environmental pollution.
* The award-winning GMO documentary Modified will be having screenings in Vermont this month (sponsored by NOFA-VT), and the film will also be shown at the 2018 Biodynamic Association Conference on November 14th in Portland, Oregon.
* Pilotworks, a food incubator backed by $15M from Acre Venture Partners, TechStars Ventures and others, suddenly shuttered. It failed to provide hundreds of tenants any advance notice and gave them just a few hours to collect their things, completely abandoning the food brands that they promised to champion and nurture.