Product Focus: Holiday Inspirations

'Tis the season for flavors from eggnog to hot cocoa to pumpkin spice. Although these flavors can be found in all types of holiday-inspired foods, the candy category leads the way with seasonal flavor innovations.

According to the Nielsen 2015 Christmas Diagnostic Review, in 2015 consumers spent $1 billion on chocolate candy during the Christmas season. Additional data shows that in 2014, 90% of consumers participated in the season, and on average, those purchasing Christmas chocolate bought more than four packages of chocolate candy and spent more than $23. In fact, more consumers purchase chocolate candy for Christmas than for any other holiday. Interestingly, chocolate plays a critical role in all key usage occasions, from baking and snacking to decorating and gifting, and of course, use as a stocking stuffer.

39 percent of consumers who celebrate Christmas stuff stockings, with 81% including chocolate candy. Of consumers who purchased chocolate for the season, the most popular reason (61%) was to fill their candy bowl at home.

Overall, seasonal candy, which is candy that comes in unique packaging, shapes, colors or flavors, accounts for sales of about $7.2 billion each year, which is more than one-fifth of the $34.5 billion U.S. retail confectionery category, according to the National Confectioners Assn. During the key candy holidays—Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Valentine’s Day—sales jump nearly 8.5%  in most retail outlets.

“Limited-edition winter holiday flavors are highly anticipated by our customers. Many start calling us in early October asking when they will be available.”  - Barry Bettinger, owner and founder of Snoqualmie Ice Cream

Holiday Food ProductsProducts to Consider

Chocolates for Gifting

Mars Chocolate North America is plugged into the Christmas season with a festive lineup of innovative new items and returning favorites. The M&M’s brand remains the top-selling brand for the Christmas chocolate category and is the No. 1 purchased item for stockings, candy bowls and gifting. The company’s Dove chocolate brand was the fastest growing brand at Christmas in 2015. This year the brand is read for gifting in a new 12-oz. decorative box containing individual foil-wrapped Dove chocolates. The box sells for $9.99.

A Scoop of Festiveness

The Pacific Northwest’s Snoqualmie Ice Cream is rolling out a new seasonal flavor, along with bringing back two holiday favorites: Pumpkin Custard and Peppermint Stick Gelato. The new offering is Sun Liquor Fancy Egg Nog Frozen Custard. Sun Liquor has been crafting its custom famous egg nog for 10 years, and for the first time the business partnered with Snoqualmie Ice Cream to create a non-alcoholic ice cream version of this popular but regional seasonal classic.

Pop Goes the Sugar Cookie

Frito-Lay North America Inc. transforms its iconic packaged popcorn snack into a holiday delight with Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn. The frosting-coated popcorn mimics the light crunch of a traditional sugar cookie while the colorful sprinkles give the popcorn holiday appeal. Like with all Cracker Jack products, there’s a prize inside every 4-oz. bag. Cracker Jack’s origins date back to 1872, when a Chicago street vendor decided to get creative with popcorn, peanuts and molasses, the basis of the original Cracker Jack product.

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