Reading the market: Three key consumer trends spurring innovation in confectionery processing technology

Through understanding the key factors driving the confectionary market, manufacturers can better understand consumer demand and make necessary adjustments to their business operations, enabling stronger results both now and in the road ahead.

By Edward Smagarinsky, group product manager (mogul) of confectionery at tna solutions

A favourite with shoppers of all ages, market reports suggest sweet treats are set to become even more popular, with the confectionery market value predicted to rise at a steady rate to reach over US$290m by 20231. To ensure they remain relevant in this fast-growing market, it is more important than ever for manufacturers understand the trends shaping consumer demand and explain how brands can tap into these insights to set themselves up for sweet success.

Scoping the current confectionery market

Fuelled by innovative concepts, such as vegan gummies and “better-for-you” candies, volume and value indices are rising across the global confectionery sector2. There are, however, regional variations, which brands should consider while forming sales strategies. Consistent with long-standing market trends, Western Europe, North America, and Asia still account for the highest proportion of sales for both volume and value in 2021. Yet with high competition in these regions, manufacturers face significant challenges in increasing market share3. Currently representing a relatively small segment of the global market, the Middle East and North Africa are due to deliver the highest growth between 2021 and 2023, opening up new opportunities for brands willing to cater to a fresh consumer base4. Beyond broader trends, three important purchase drivers that brands must address of to attract today’s conscientious consumers have emerged.

1. Sustainability

In the wake of the COP26 climate summit, interest in strategies for sustainable living is at an all-time high. Consumers are looking for ways to go green in their daily purchases by searching for brands committed to environmental responsibility. To appeal to these consumers, confectioners should focus on reducing energy and material use throughout the production process.

Progress towards sustainable confectionery production operations starts by making small, incremental improvements. By investing in specialised processing and packaging technology, manufacturers can chip away at resource usage and seize improved operational efficiencies along the way. Packaging equipment auxiliary features like integrated stripper tube-closers and product in-seal detection (PISD) systems minimise the chance of sugar or candy pieces becoming trapped in the pack seal area. By implementing these solutions, brands can limit pack rejections and unnecessary plastic waste, building a more profitable operation in the process.

Beyond physical equipment hardware, advanced system controls and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled operating systems can conserve valuable resources. The intuitive energy-saving modes included in the latest tna robag VFFS packaging system reduce power usage by up to 20%, enhancing productivity during operation and then automatically shutting down when the equipment is idle. As more equipment solutions begin to incorporate smart control software, manufacturers will be able to take a holistic view of their processing operation, identifying new ways to make their lines run as smoothly and sustainably as possible.

2. Food authenticity and traceability

The complexity of modern-day supply chains means traceability is no longer optional. Consumers expect to know their food’s exact source and how it was produced. Intersecting these demands are continued concerns with food safety, fuelled by both the pandemic and increased awareness of the risks posed by unacknowledged allergens. To address these anxieties, manufacturers can call upon the latest data collection systems. Intelligent, accurate and customisable, these tools provide the insights brands need to offer consumers truly traceable sweet treats.

Collecting data from as many parts of the production process as possible is an essential part of safe and efficient confectionery processing. The adoption of fully integrated control systems has been instrumental in improving food safety standards in recent years, allowing continuous in-line status checking throughout the entire production process. Many of these total control solutions feature cutting-edge data collection equipment, like barcode scanners which verify if the correct product batch is being processed by scanning product barcodes and cross-checking them with pre-approved production schedules. To ensure product use-by dates can be accurately calculated and communicated to the consumer, date code assurance systems confirm that date codes are printed, complete and legible on the product packaging. Finally, essential in-line monitoring systems, like metal detectors and x-ray equipment, continuously scan for foreign bodies, pinpointing the source of contamination within the product stream to guarantee the safety of every pack. These systems also allow manufacturers to establish a detailed record of past performance data – opening up potential for continuous progress monitoring and a more transparent production process.

3. Food waste reduction

Linked with sustainable operations, consumers are looking to see confectionery manufacturers address food waste. No longer are shoppers willing to support a disposable approach to consumption, especially when it comes to precious resources like food. In Germany, 58% of people surveyed stated they never discard edible food, while 75% of UK consumers are concerned about food waste – a sentiment mirrored across the Atlantic where 66% of Montana residents say the issue bothers them ‘a lot’5-6. Consequently, consumers are demanding greater responsibility from brands when it comes to food waste.

In gummy processing, the biggest opportunity for food waste comes at the finishing stage, where sugar coatings, citric acid powder or oil are added. Traditionally, sugar is applied by running products through a steam bath to make the exterior tacky. They are then passed through a sugar curtain before being tumbled in a seasoning drum, causing delicately moulded shapes to melt in the heat the steamer. In addition, the sugar curtain seasoning method can be difficult to standardise across batches, leading to inconsistencies and excess sugar usage.

Brands can overcome these challenges by adopting a more accurate, recipe-focused approach to gummy finishing offered by equipment like tna’s intelli-flavOMS 5 on-machine seasoning solution. This advanced system accurately coats each gummy in sugar using a tacking agent to adhere the seasoning rather than heat, ensuring even product coverage without affecting any finer details of the moulded gummy. This method uses the exact amount of sugar, acid powder or other flavouring ingredient required to coat the product, resulting in a more consistent, high-quality product while reducing seasoning wastage.

Forecasting future trends

The benefits that advanced equipment operating systems can bring to confectionery manufacturers has emerged as a common theme. The potential for comprehensive insights and continuous optimisation offered by such systems empowers brands to address the needs of consumers today and prepare for wherever the market shifts next.

This article was first published in the February/March 2022 issue of Food & Beverage Asia.


1 GlobalData, ‘Sector landscapes: chocolate, confectionery, desserts, [report], March 2021 

2 Ibid, GlobalData

3 Ibid, GlobalData

4 Ibid, GlobalData

5 Benjamin H., james O., Barry, Varun N., Tarik T., Joseph M., Emmanuel A., Alexandra I., Methody G., Sandra P., Rose K., Quinter O., James C., Joseph N., Marvel I., Stella-Maris, Rosalind R., Irina M., Kathy H., Sustainability and Food Waste in European Markets, Wonder, 20 February 2021,

6 Ahmed Selena, Stewart Alyssa, Smith Erin, Warne Teresa, Byker Shanks Carmen, Consumer Perceptions, Behaviors, and Knowledge of Food Waste in a Rural American State, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems , Vol 5, 2021,