Sugar Confectionery and Gum Trends in Europe

Explore the latest sugar confectionery and gum trends, including consumer drivers and the impact of macro trends

February 29, 2024 – Some of the world’s greatest consumers of sugar confectionery and gum can be found in Europe alongside other exciting category developments.

Consumer Insights 

Innova’s data shows that the penetration of sugar confectionery and gum varies globally, with the highest rates in Europe in Sweden and Finland. Gum trends show that chewing gum is the most widely consumed type of sugar confectionery, with 29% of European consumers claiming to consume gum four to six times a week or more. In terms of sugar confectionery trends, 12% of consumers say they have increased their consumption of confectionery, while 69% have maintained their consumption.

More than half of consumers eat sugar confectionery for its good taste (52%), even more so in Sweden and Finland, where 71% and 61% respectively cite this reason.

Consumers are influenced by a number of claims, the importance of which varies from market to market.

Market Size and Trends 

Sugar confectionery trends show that Europe accounts for eight of the top ten global per capita sugar confectionery consumers. Gum trends show that Finland and Slovenia lead the world in gum consumption per capita. The region’s combined value share is estimated at 32%, with Western Europe at 25% and Eastern Europe at 8%. Despite its smaller value share, Eastern Europe is the fastest growing of the two regions. Four of the top ten markets are European, with Germany leading the way. Gum sales are in the billions, with Western Europe accounting for nearly a quarter of the value and Eastern Europe 9%. In particular, three of the top ten markets in terms of sales are European, led by Italy.

Sugar Confectionery and Gum Trends in Europe

What’s Shaping the Category? 

Sugar confectionery trends and gum trends in NPD show that European sugar confectionery and gum NPD is showing +1.3% growth (CAGR five years ending Q3, 2023) with individual performances differing at -1.8% for sugar confectionery and -3.4% for gum. Western Europe accounted for a quarter of total NPD in the 12 months to Q3 2023 and Eastern Europe for 5%, but Eastern Europe is seeing faster growth in NPD activity. While the focus of NPD by sub-category varies regionally, choice claims (e.g., vegetarian, plant-based, halal), seasonality, and free-from claims drive NPD.

Fruit and strawberry flavors lead sugar confectionery NPD, while mint and spearmint are the top gum flavors.

Macro Trends Impact 

Healthier Living and Simple Pleasures, two of Innova’s macro trends in consumer lifestyles, attitudes and consumption behaviors, show their impact on sugar confectionery trends and gum trends. Healthier Living shows that health and wellness remains a top spending priority for consumers, with the primary goal of healthier living being to feel good, age well, take care of their physical and mental health and look good. Sugar confectionery is widely seen as a treat, so the availability of more nutritious choices in the category, without sacrificing taste and indulgence, is optimal for consumers seeking a healthier diet. Sugar reduction has been a key focus for innovators, but confectionery is also a vehicle for added nutrition, such as vitamin and mineral fortification, prebiotics and probiotics.

Simple Pleasures – targeting the evolving nature of enjoyment and reward – reveals that time spent with close relationships, especially family and friends, and me time rank as the highest sources of enjoyment and reward for consumers, indicating the importance of connection and reconnection. Intrinsically emotional pleasures win out over larger experiences. Sugar confectionery is a comparatively low-cost, sweet treat that can be used as a reward or a pick-me-up. Sharing bags allows it to be part of social occasions, novel NPD can bring happiness and fun, and premium ingredients can give consumers a moment of indulgence.

Top Ten Trends Impact 

Several Innova Market Insights’ Top 10 Trends for 2023, such as Unpuzzle Health, Redefining Value, Revenge Spending, and Plant-Based: Unlocking a New Narrative, impact sugar confectionery trends and gum trends.
Unpuzzle Health – defined by simple communication supported by trusted certification, reinforces health messages, especially when matched by consumer experience – is a major influence on this category, as sugar reduction is a key focus of attention along with vitamin and mineral fortification claims.
Redefining value – characterized as combating instability requiring a deep understanding of where consumers draw the line on a compromise – shows local ingredient sourcing is important alongside environmental certification as consumers look for added sustainability.
Revenge Spending – defined by small pleasures having a heightened effect as luxury spending comes under pressure, offering opportunities to enhance brand perception – sees innovators creating enjoyment-focused experiences using experimental flavors and limited-edition offerings.
Plant-Based: Unlocking a New Narrative – defines how underused ingredients and technology-enabled new formats open up wider spaces for standalone plant-based innovation – sees the use of alternative ingredients such as plant-based gelatins and sweeteners.

What’s Next? 

Product claims: Sustainability is a key focus across the food and beverage industry and a highlighted area of sugar confectionery and gum is with regards to palm oil use. Palm oil-free claims are seeing dynamic growth, albeit from a currently small base, which can expect a rise in activity with increased messaging about regaining sustainable sourcing in which palm oil is used.

Flavors: Flavor innovation is a further area of NPD that will continue to garner attention. While the popular, mainstream flavors will remain core in activity, manufacturers will look to excite and innovate in the category with fusion blends, global flavors, and unexpected flavors, depending on the target audience, such as adults or children.


This article is based on our insider report, “Unwrapping Tomorrow’s Sugar Confectionery & Gum Opportunities in Europe.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
You can do this by either booking a demo or using our Contact Form.

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