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The "Naturalization" of Legacy Candy Remains Popular But Innovation with Healthier and On-Trend Ingredients Will Soon Drive the Market

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/FounderHunnyBon


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

This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course

U.S. Boasts 6.5M Acres of Organic Land in 2018

As part of its recently released annual Organic and Non-GMO Acreage Report, Mercaris said that there are nearly 18,000 certified organic farms in the U.S., totaling 6.5M harvested acres.


$289M Verdict Against Monsanto is Not a Done Deal

By Olivia Rosane

A California judge ruled that Monsanto did not act with "malice or oppression" when California groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson claimed that the constant use of Roundup caused his cancer. As such, a new trial may be coming soon.

Associated Press

3 Farmers Plead Guilty in Organic Grain Fraud Scheme

By Ryan J. Foley

With the organic industry plagued by fraudulent grains from abroad, we now have reason to worry about suspect organic grains grown here in the U.S.


Indian State Wins U.N.-Backed Prize, Shows the World that 100% Organic is 'No Longer a Pipe Dream'

By Thin Lei Win

The small Indian state of Sikkim went 100% organic in 2016 and is now showing the rest of the world that an agricultural policy devoid of toxic chemicals is a profitable and prosperous model. Love it!

Second Course
The New York Times

Weaponizing GE-Insects is a Frightening Reality

By Emily Baumgaertner

A Defense Department-funded "food security project" could also be used as a biological weapon, something that should frighten us to no end.

Fresh Plaza

Driscoll's Responds to 'Slave-Labor' Claims at Its Mexico Operations

By Dennis Rettke

Organic berry company Driscoll's is defending itself against "slave-labor" claims at its operations in Mexico.

CBC News

The Rush to Patent GMO Cannabis is On

By Chris Arsenault

Critics fret that biotech companies will own the building blocks of life. We've seen this playbook before.

Third Course
FoodBev Media

Study: Natural Packaging Holds Shoppers' Attention Longer

By Alex Clere

In a study conducted at Clemson University, it was found that packaging with a “distinctive, natural look” enhances product attributes like organic and natural, helping brands stand out on the retail shelf.

The Verge

Whole Foods Signs Partnership with Smart Oven Company

By Jacob Kastrenakes

The smart oven by June will now have a special Whole Foods button, allowing owners to select specific Whole Foods products to cook.

Food Navigator

6 Key Trends that Kroger is Tracking

By Elizabeth Crawford

Through its loyalty program and anthropological research, Kroger is tracking food waste and five other key trends at its stores.

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This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* 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.

* Things are so dire with the bees that stolen hives in California are becoming a very serious problem and genetically-engineered bees are now in development.

* 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.

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