Confectionery sales in the U.S. dropped by 0.2% in 2020 over last year, a situation driven in large part by a plunge in gum and mints, according to a report by the National Confectioners Association.
In “State of Treating 2021,” the NCA’s second annual state-of-the-industry report, total U.S. confectionery sales for 2021 are pegged at $36.7 billion. Chocolate, the largest single category (58% of sales), was up 4.2%, to $21.9 billion; non-chocolate, the second largest (30% of sales), rose 2.9%, to $11.5 billion. But those were offset by a 22.7% drop in gum and breath mints, to $3.9 billion.
The report attributes both the rises and the drop to the pandemic. “Shoppers cited wearing masks, being around people less, saving money and eating out less as the chief reasons for enjoying gum and breath fresheners less often,” the report says.
The pandemic also affected the four major gift-giving occasions for candy, with only Valentine’s Day remaining unscathed, according to the report. As a result, while non-seasonal candy sales were up 5.4%, seasonal candy was down 2.8%.
The pandemic also led consumers to cut down on shopping trips, which made grocery sales grow at the expense of other retail channels. Chocolate sales were up 6.1% in grocery stores but down 8.5% in drugstores.
“Amidst the uncertainty this year, the confectionery category has remained resilient – which is a true testament to how chocolate and candy remain an important aspect of our collective emotional well-being,” said John Downs, president & CEO of NCA.