Easter food

Natural & Specialty Brands Win Easter…Again

by SPINS' Director of Client Insights Jason Loughrin

The top-selling week of the year for candy in 2018 was not the week of Halloween. It wasn’t the week of Valentine’s Day, either, or Christmas. It was the week leading up to Easter, when $951.3 million worth of confections were sold through Natural, Specialty Gourmet, Conventional Multi Outlet, and Convenience Channels.

Which makes it somewhat surprising that candy sales for the week leading up to Easter barely budged versus 2017 levels. Dollars were up a hare, er, hair for Easter week at +0.5%, much worse than 2018’s overall growth rate for the year of +1.6%.

But crack open that egg and you’ll find something interesting inside. SPINS data shows that conventional brands actually sold 1.0% less during Easter week of 2018 vs. the equivalent week in 2017. One percent may not sound like much, but it adds up to a difference of $8.5 million in conventional candy sales for that one week alone. Meanwhile natural and specialty products represent a smaller segment of the candy market, but they leapt an impressive 17.0% during Easter week 2018-- offsetting losses by the big conventional brands with an overall gain of $13.3 million in that one week.

Easter week 2019 was even tougher for conventional brands, as sales of those items fell by 2.7%, or $23.5 million, compared to Easter week 2018. But once again, natural and specialty items moved in the opposite direction, growing 1.3% to capture even more market share. Natural and specialty items accounted for 10% of candy sales in Easter week 2019, compared to 8.2% just two years ago.

Shoppers may be scaling back on sugary confections in general, even for special occasions and holidays when we shower family and friends with baskets full of sweet, indulgent treats. At the same time, years of data show that many candy consumers are looking to swap out traditional items for ones that are sustainably sourced, organic, artisanal, or generally more premium in quality. This is reflected in prices, as well, with SPINS’ segmentation showing that natural and specialty brands sold at an average price premium of 28.2% vs conventional products during the week of Easter in 2018!

Hungry for more nuanced insights on the food tribes and quality standards driving natural and specialty candy purchases today? Be sure to catch SPINS’ Senior Manager of Natural Insights Jessica Hochman and UNFI’s Category Manager for Center-Store and Frozen Grocery Eric Lauterbach-Colby at the National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo on Wednesday, May 22, as they take a closer look at the natural and specialty items driving growth. Also, keep an eye out for their insights in Candy & Snack Today following the expo!

Even if you can’t make it to the Sweets & Snacks Expo, be sure to download SPINS’ infographic on Cleaner Candy here, and reach out to SPINS to see how we can help you unwrap product trends that matter to your business in all parts of the store all year long. Hop to it!

With 12 years of experience applying analytics to the business of consumer packaged goods, Jason Loughrin is director of client insights at SPINS where he helps manufacturer brands turn data into actionable insights to grow their business. Reach him at [email protected]

SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet Channels (proprietary, Conventional Multi Outlet and Convenience Channels (powered by IRI); Shelf-Stable Candy category; Weeks Ending April 2, 2017 through April 21, 2019.