Popcorn Market Trends in the US and Canada

See how the popcorn market in the US and Canada is developing

May 3, 2024 – Popcorn is a popular, easily snackable treat, and is a mainstay in many North American households. Through our extensive consumer and market research, we have identified key trends in the popcorn market. Our insights include information on product launches and sales, flavors of note, important claims, and where the category may be headed in the future.

A Highly Lucrative Region

North America is the third most active region for new popcorn product launches. In 2023, the region accounted for 19% of all popcorn product launches. In sales, North America dominates, with over half of all popcorn sales taking place in the North American market.

While sales in the popcorn market have steadily increased throughout the past five years, popcorn new product launches have fluctuated more heavily. However, an upward trend is still apparent.

Popcorn remains a popular snack, averaging 9% of share in snack launches between 2021 and 2023. During this period, popcorn held 10.1% and 5.3% of new product development share in the United States and Canada, respectively. Wholegrain products, allergen free choices, and better for you claims help push new product development in North America.

Seasonal or limited-edition claims in the popcorn market have shown significant growth in the past three years. Innovation has been boosted by festive launches for Christmas, Halloween, seasonal inspirations, and limited editions with cross-category flavor launches.

When comparing the two countries in new popcorn product launches, the United States averages 88% of all launches. While Canada produces less popcorn comparatively, the region fluctuates year to year, and showcases potential for a growing market of popcorn products. Additionally, both the US and Canada grew in sales value, by 6% and 4.3% respectively.

Top Brands in the Popcorn Market

Target leads as the most active launcher of popcorn products, sharply increasing its production between 2022 and 2023. The company holds 7.4% of share in new product development, driven by caramel corn cluster ranges, kettle corn in milk/white chocolate/strawberry flavors, and options with spice flavor blends. Lesserevil is the fastest growing company among the top five launchers in North America, with a 100% growth rate between 2021 and 2023.

Popcorn Market

Positionings and Claims

Gluten free is the most used claim on new popcorn products, growing steadily in the past three years. Runner up popular claims include GMO free, no additives or preservatives, wholegrain, and vegan. Seasonal, organic, no trans fats, and low, no, or reduced cholesterol are all additional growing claims in 2023. When analyzing between countries, in Canada no additives or preservatives is the top claim on popcorn, while gluten free is the most popular in the US.

Popcorn’s inherent lack of gluten creates a product that can easily highlight gluten free claims. Gluten free claims are unsurprisingly dominating the category, seen on products ranging from classic sea salt flavors to more indulgent sweet variations. GMO free, and clean label positionings are also holding strong, possibly demonstrating consumer interest in popcorn as a conscious, health-minded snack. Vegan claims are less prevalent in the category but showcases growth potential for brands willing to leverage the vegan consumer populace.

Popcorn Flavors of Interest

Butter is the top flavor in the region and in both individual countries. The next most popular flavors are caramel, white cheddar cheese, sea salt, and cheddar cheese. Other growing flavors include parmesan cheese, cheese, white chocolate, peanut, and peanut butter.

While the classic buttered popcorn holds the top flavor spot, caramel is close behind in popularity. New caramel popcorn products released in 2023 include Favorite Day Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Roll Caramel Corn Clusters, and Stonehedge Farms Caramel Popcorn. White chocolate, another sweet style of popcorn, also appears as a growing flavor. It can be seen often on limited-edition and seasonal products, such Clancys Limited Edition White and Dark Drizzled Caramel Corn Popcorn.

What’s Next in Popcorn Market Trends?

Free from claims, such as gluten free, GMO free, and no additives or preservatives are all helping drive innovation in the popcorn market. High or source of fiber is also a growing positioning in popcorn products. However, indulgent flavors are also prevalent, with white chocolate, milk chocolate, sweet and salty, and maple bourbon, amongst others all growing. Consumers seem to be receptive to both health-focused claims, as well as sweet flavors in popcorn. This falls in line with our “Indulging in Health” Top Trend of 2024, and brands can lean further into consumers acceptance of healthier sweet treats to unlock more potential.


This article is based on our report, “Overview of Popcorn in the US & Canada.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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