Sweet disposition 

Dive into Ireland's confectionery market as it navigates the intersection of taste preferences, health-consciousness, and innovation amidst rising consumer awareness writes Shauna Bernard


Brand Central

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19 April 2024

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As health consciousness rises across Ireland, consumers continue to prioritise taste when selecting confectionery items, balancing indulgence with healthier options. While there’s a notable increase in the popularity of natural, sugar-free, and reduced sugar options, the demand for indulgent treats remains robust, reflecting a nuanced approach to consumption.

The sugar confectionery market is steadily expanding, fuelled by various factors such as the need for convenient on-the-go snacks, the rise in gifting culture, and the introduction of innovative flavours that cater to evolving preferences. In this ever-evolving sector, retailers play a pivotal role by ensuring they stock leading brands that resonate with consumers, thus driving sales and profitability.

In 2024, the Irish confectionery market boasts a revenue of €1.46 billion, with an anticipated annual growth rate of 3.04% (CAGR 2024-2028). This data is sourced from Statista, a provider of market and consumer data. When viewed on a global scale, the biggest revenue generated is in the United States, totalling to €176 billion ($199 billion) in 2024.

When considering per capita figures, each person contributes €287.72 to the confectionery market’s revenue in 2024. Looking ahead, volume projections indicate that by 2028, the market is expected to reach 218.20 million kilograms, with a modest growth rate of 1.1% anticipated for 2025. On an individual basis, the average volume per person in the confectionery market is forecasted to be 41.5 kilograms in 2024.

A recent report by Euromonitor, specifically examining ‘Sugar Confectionery in Ireland,’ sheds light on potential future trends. It suggests that due to rising prices and the possibility of higher sugar taxes, sugar confectionery manufacturers in Ireland may need to pivot towards developing healthier and more affordable alternatives in the coming years. This could involve further reducing the sugar content and incorporating healthier ingredients such as fruit or nuts, aligning with changing consumer expectations and regulatory pressures.

In the ever-changing world of confectionery, businesses need to stay flexible, tune into what consumers want, and keep coming up with fresh ideas to stay ahead. This means staying on top of trends, understanding what people like, and being ready to shake things up. By being adaptable, responsive, and creative, companies can not only keep up but also stand out in this dynamic market.


When it comes to exports, combined chocolate and sugar confectionery was valued at €430 million and represents 14% of total Ireland’s Prepared Consumer Foods (PCF). This is according to a recent Bord Bia report titled, ‘Prepared Consumer Foods Sector’. Combined, Ierish chocolate and sugar confectionery was valued at €430 million and represents 14% of total PCF exports in 2023. This is a robust performance for the sector considering the price inflation on key ingredients. It reflects solid innovations made by the sector that have carved out enduring differentiation and strong better-for-you claims in a category that is coming under increasing regulatory pressures.

Shine bright

Sonas Sweets Hanging bags offer a delightful selection of treats, retailing from only €1

Sonas Sweets continues to shine with eco-friendly packaging and vibrant new look

A year has passed since Ampersand, a prominent distributor in the convenience sector, reintroduced Sonas Sweets in a rebranded hanging bags format. This marks a noteworthy milestone in the continued success of the Sonas Sweets bagged jelly line. Over the past year, Sonas Sweets has thrived with its vibrant, innovative packaging, now fully recyclable to meet the demands of environmentally conscious consumers.

Enhancing the customer experience, Sonas Sweets implemented a colour-coded system, simplifying the selection process for its diverse range of 24 flavours. ‘Jellies’ are now presented in striking red packs, while ‘Fizzy’ and sour sweets come in vivid yellow and orange packaging, and the ‘Nibbles’ line of bite-sized treats are packaged in bright blue bags. This carefully crafted packaging design appeals to individuals of all ages, elevating the product’s visual appeal to both consumers and retailers alike.

Maintaining its commitment to affordability and quality, Sonas Sweets Hanging bags continue to offer a delightful selection of treats, retailing from only €1. Additionally, the best-selling ‘€2 Mix-up’ continues to captivate consumers with its exciting assortment of confectionery in a variety of flavours, presented in distinctive and cheerful packaging.

In support of retailers, Ampersand ensures that Sonas Sweets stands out in-store with eye-catching colourful stands, branded header boards, and dump bins. The point-of-sale support not only enhance the retail environment but also attract and engage consumers, driving sales and fostering brand loyalty. In addition, Ampersand also offer bulk deal promotions to further incentivise purchases and maximise value for retailers.

Capturing the essence of happiness and joy, the renewed branding of Sonas Sweets embodies its Irish namesake, with “Sonas” translating to “happiness.” The updated logo features a delightful smiling sun mascot, accompanied by modern typography and a vibrant array of rainbow hues. This rebranding initiative continues to resonate with consumers, promising a burst of colour and cheer with every purchase.

Ampersand’s dedication to innovation and customer satisfaction shines through in the ongoing success of the Sonas Sweets brand. With its vibrant packaging, eco-friendly focus, and expanded product offerings, Sonas Sweets remains a beloved choice for sweet lovers everywhere.

If you would like to stock Sonas Sweets, contact your local Ampersand representative, or call the Ampersand sales line directly on 01-4130150.

A timeless taste of Irish tradition 

Cleeve’s continues its legacy of excellence, producing a diverse range of milk chocolate confectionery, bars, toffees, and caramels in Newbridge, Kildare

Since 1882, Cleeve’s Irish Confectionery has epitomised the essence of quality, tradition, and taste. Established by the Cleeve’s brothers in Limerick, the brand has remained an enduring icon in Ireland’s confectionery industry throughout the 20th century and beyond.

Today, Cleeve’s continues its legacy of excellence, producing a diverse range of milk chocolate confectionery, bars, toffees, and caramels in Newbridge, Kildare. Ampersand proudly presents this iconic brand, featuring timeless favourites like Original Iced Caramels, alongside a selection of confectionery hanging bags and delectable chocolate bars. 

Cleeve’s vintage style branding evokes a sense of nostalgia reminiscent of its origins 140 years ago. Cleeve’s chocolate bars recently underwent a rebrand accompanied with a recipe upgrade. Now boasting a minimum of 30% cocoa solids, Cleeve’s chocolate bars promise a notably enriched tasting experience. Furthermore, Cleeve’s chocolate is now completely free from palm oil and vegetable oil, reaffirming the commitment to quality shared by Ampersand and Cleeve’s.

Cleeve’s Classic Assortment Bags offer a sweet selection of Irish classics and timeless favourites, crafted with traditional recipes and locally sourced, quality Irish dairy products, providing an enticing variety of flavours and products to satisfy every taste. The range includes:

  • Original Iced Caramels: Crafted with the same original recipe and method cherished by consumers for over 90 years, Original Iced Caramels sweets combine yummy, chewy caramel under a crisp coating of pink and white icing sugar. Uniquely special and produced exclusively in Ireland by Cleeve’s Irish Confectionery – They are one of a kind!
  • Chocolate Caramels: Delicious chewy caramels smothered in rich dark and milk chocolate. A gluten free snack bag of treats that can be enjoyed anytime throughout the day. 
  • Macaroon Bites: Creamy Irish chocolates mixed with coconut sprinkles, capturing the essence of the best-selling Cleeve’s Macaroon Chocolate Bar.
  • Golden Days: Luscious dark chocolate caramels infused with coconut and sea salt flavours, boasting a gluten-free and gorgeously gooey centre.
  • Cleeve’s Toffee: Showcasing Cleeve’s iconic Slab Toffee, so fondly remembered by many. Cleeve’s Toffee is pre-broken into pieces for convenient enjoyment, made with traditional recipes and finest Irish dairy ingredients, without artificial colours or preservatives.

Cleeve’s holds the distinction of being Ireland’s longest-established surviving confectionery brand. Each delectable treat carries with it a moment of joy and Irish heritage, crafted with traditional recipes. Whether evoking memories of yesteryears or creating new magical moments, Cleeve’s delights families across generations.

For more information on Cleeve’s Irish Confectionery, visit cleevesirishconfectionery.ie or follow on Facebook and Instagram. To stock Cleeve’s products, contact your local Ampersand representative or call the Ampersand sales line directly on 01-4130150. 

Sweet success

Rowntrees Randoms Fizzy Cactuz offers mouth-watering sweets comes in zesty fruit flavours including raspberry, kiwi, passionfruit, and lime

In terms of sugar sharing bags, the total market is seeing +8.7% MAT value growth with Rowntrees outperforming this with +12% MAT value growth. 

The brand’s success is driven by its continued focus on developing exciting new products. New for 2024, is a fresh addition to the Rowntrees Randoms family: Fizzy Cactuz! This sharing bag of mouth-watering sweets comes in zesty fruit flavours including raspberry, kiwi, passionfruit, and lime. The gummy sweets also keep Randoms fans on their toes as they come in two fun textures, with some cacti being deliciously gummy, and others with a juicy fruit filling that burst with each bite. With each sweet’s unique taste and texture, consumers are sure to love the randomness from the very first bite! Fizzy Cactuz will join the growing Randoms range which currently includes the original Randoms and Randoms Juicers. 

Other recent Rowntrees innovation includes the launch of a range of sharing bags containing real fruit juice and 30% less sugar including Berry Hearts, squidgy heart shaped sweets in flavour favourites strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant and Safari Mix, a fun mix of shapes including giraffes, elephants, hippos and paw prints with strawberry, orange, lemon, and apple flavours.

Over the years Rowntrees has also ensured as many consumers as possible can enjoy its fruity chews through expanding its vegan friendly offering. Vegan friendly Rowntrees Fruit Gums and Rowntrees Pick & Mix recently joined the existing sharing bag range alongside vegan friendly Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles and Rowntrees Jelly Tots. 

When considering sugar confectionery, shoppers opt for well-loved, familiar brands they can trust. Rowntrees is a brand that consumers can trust to contain no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives. It is also important to offer shoppers greater through a variety of flavours and textures. 

Visibility in-store is key to signpost the sugar confectionery category – within the main fixture, sugar sharing bags should be merchandised together and not combined with chocolate sharing bags, with a vertical split between the two on the sharing bags fixture. As well as on the main fixture, off-shelf displays are also invaluable to sugar confectionery especially during the summer months. 

In terms of sugar sharing bags, a good secondary location to consider would be other categories associated with the ‘night in’ sharing occasion such as crisp sharing bags and large soft drinks. 

What a treat!

Shelton’s range of innovative, bright and colourful candy always bring a little quirkiness and disruption to Ireland’s sugar confectionery category


Shelton specialises in marketing children’s candies and treats which bring a little quirkiness and disruption to the confectionery aisle. Children’s impulse novelties are in great demand, and PEZ Dispensers (RRP €2.50) and Candy Refill Packs (RRP: €2.00) have become special go-to treats for children of all ages. PEZ Dispensers are iconic collector’s items, with special limited editions often changing hands for large sums of money.

PEZ is a true award-winning leader in bringing fun and innovation to their fans. With PEZ MyHEAD you can now go on-line, download your image, and create a customised PEZ dispenser with your face on the dispenser – perfect for gifting occasions for the special persons in your life.

Bringing innovation to children’s confectionery is also a special feature which Look-O-Look delivers in so many ways. Look-O-Look Candy Pizza, Candy Burgers, Candy Sushi, and French Fries Take-Aways, together with their unique Candy Flower Bouquets can brighten up any kiddie’s party, or special occasion. Sales figures peak during the summer months for all Look-O-Look products, and the new Look-O-Look floor stands feature 2 x shelves to carry traditional hanging bags, and several Candy Take-Away novelties.

Trolli has a new face and logo, and this is shown to great effect with the new Trolli Big Burger, featuring a modern design stand, which creates fantastic impact in any store. The Trolli motto is that “Life is far too important to be taken too seriously!” and this can be seen in so many of their quirky quality confectionery creations.

Chocolate Surprise Eggs are always a winner with children, and Zaini Chocolate Eggs feature famous children’s licences including LOL Surprise, Tom & Jerry, Smurfs and many more. Made with premium Italian chocolate, these eggs with surprise toys are also gluten-free, and can be safely shared with children with wheat-intolerances.

WOM Novelties include many versions of candy soothers to put a different smile on anyone’s face. These unique dummies promise to be a great fun item during the summer months. For further information on all the items here, contact Shelton at so@shelton.ie or call 01-4018455.




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