There are three segments in the confectionery market – Chocolate, Sugar Confectionery and Gum. Chocolate covers all chocolate based products, including boxed chocolates, moulded chocolate bars, chocolate covered bars, seasonal novelties and local specialities. The sugar confectionery market is made up of boiled sweets, liquorice, lollipops, medicated confectionery, mints (power and standard), pastilles, gums, jellies, chew toffees, caramels and nougat. Gum includes all bubble and chewing gum and dental gums. 

According to Global Data, the Irish Confectionery market is valued at €915.4m (2016) and expected to grow at 1.9% CAGR during the period 2016 to 2021. Of the three segments in the market, Chocolate is the largest at €655.2m (71.6%), while Sugar is the second largest at 20.3% share with Gum holding a share of 8%.

While Chocolate is the largest segment, Sugar is predicted to be the fastest growing part of the market from 2016-2021 with 3% growth. Gum will grow by 2.7% while Chocolate will post the lowest growth at 1.4%.

Rising consumer confidence, boosted by the falling employment rate and increasing disposable incomes, is prompting Irish consumers to spend more on indulgent, premium treats more frequently, which is driving the consumption of confectionery products. Per capita consumption now stands at 12.21kg in Ireland compared to the Western European rate of 8.57kg and a global level of 2.46kg. Consumption of confectionery is high among women compared to men with the female population accounting for 52.9% share of consumption. 

Per capita consumption of chocolate in particular is noticeably higher in Ireland compared to other markets (8kg compared to 4.9kg in Western Europe). Boxed chocolate is the largest sub-category in value terms and the fastest growing at 2.4%. Private label penetration is low in this category averaging 2.1% across the segments.  

The UK Market is valued at £6,361.6m (2016) and forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.4% during 2016-20121. Volume consumption is predicted to grow by 2.7% during this period. Per capita consumption of Confectionery in the UK increased from 7.71kg in 2011 to 8.32kg in 2016 and is expected to reach 9.17kg by 2021.

Similar to the Irish market, Chocolate is the largest segment in the UK in value and volume terms at 72.3% and 68.2% respectively, while sugar accounts for 22.6% value and 29.3% volume and Gum at 5.1% value and 2.5% volume.  By contrast with the ROI market, Chocolate Countlines is the largest category in value terms, accounting for £1,605.3m in 2016.

Demand for confectionery products with “Sugar Free” claims is increasing.  Free From (No Added Sugar/Sugar Free) is the largest product attribute in terms of value sales in both the ROI and UK confectionery markets.  This reflects current concerns with obesity and obesity related diseases.  Current advice (and government focus) is that sugar consumption needs to be drastically reduced, with sugar confectionery a prime target.

Exports of chocolate products from Ireland were estimated to be worth €227m in 2017.  While some European markets showed a decline in sales, the UK remains a key export market, and there were gains in MENA markets.  Sugar confectionary exports reached €150m, achieving 6% growth YOY.