Sweets, glorious sweets!

With Halloween and Christmas fast approaching, it’s a booming time for Ireland’s confectionery sector which will also benefit from the growing ‘evening in’ trend with share bags to suit the whole family during cosy autumn and winter evenings, writes Gillian Hamill


Brand Central

26 September 2023

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While the ongoing trends of indulgence and shoppers’ desire for a small yet satisfying, affordable treat will always guarantee confectionery sales, nonetheless Ireland’s leading brands are certainly not resting on their laurels.

Innovation stream

Instead, they are delivering genuine innovation; a trend which shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Indeed, according to Euromonitor Ireland, in a report entitled ‘Chocolate Confectionery in Ireland’ published in July of this year: “Chocolate confectionery in Ireland is forecasted to experience a continuous stream of innovations between 2024 and 2028. These innovations, ranging from unique flavour combinations to healthier options, are expected to provide several benefits for both consumers and manufacturers.” The growing demand for personalised and artisanal products also offers great opportunity, according to Euromonitor.

Mintel research likewise highlights the importance of innovation. Within its ‘UK Chocolate Confectionery Market Report 2022’, which broadly reflects trends here in Ireland, Mintel found that “51% of chocolate consumers would be interested in purchasing a newly launched flavour”. This study also showed “81% of chocolate eaters agree that chocolate is an affordable treat”. Despite, the cost-of-living crisis, Mintel states that “evenings in and gifting will help support chocolate consumption, given that chocolate is considered more affordable than many other gifts”.

Looking at future trends, Mintel stated that “despite the growing interest in healthy eating, the UK chocolate market’s future is positive”. Mintel’s chocolate market research indicates that “new flavours are by far the most likely facet of NPD to encourage consumers to buy new chocolate products, given that 44% of buyers and eaters of chocolate agree that a chocolate brand that regularly brings out new flavours is more appealing than one that does not.”

“The return of real income growth and a developing chocolate trend of ‘quality over quantity’ offer future opportunities for premium products to capture and boost value sales above inflation,” Mintel added.

Sugar confectionery

Meanwhile, in a report specifically looking at ‘Sugar Confectionery in Ireland’, which was published in July 2023, Euromonitor stated that due to rising prices and the likelihood of higher sugar taxes, “sugar confectionery manufacturers in Ireland may need to focus on developing healthier and more affordable alternatives in the coming years. This could include further reduction of the sugar content and incorporating healthier ingredients like fruit or nuts.”

Vegan options

Mintel has also reported on the global sugar confectionery market. The analyst states that “vegan claims in sweets have been on the increase across Europe. Confectionery brands should highlight the environmental and health-related positives of vegan sweets to entice new customers”.

Texture is also a key factor within sugar confectionery. According to Amrin Walji
Senior Innovation Analyst at Mintel: “Memorable textures are a recurring innovation theme in sugar confectionery. Meanwhile, gum producers are addressing specific oral health issues explicitly on pack.”

Low-cost mood boost

Within itsUK Sugar and Gum Confectionery Market Report 2023’, Mintel also highlights the role of sugar confectionery as a “low-cost mood boost”.

“Over two-fifths of UK consumers agree that eating sweets is a low-cost way to boost your mood,” states Mintel. “This goes some way to explain why volume sales of sweets did so well in 2022, despite the cost-of-living crisis and ongoing spotlight on health. Furthermore, 60% of consumers who like to receive sweets as a gift also agree that they are a good way to boost their mood, highlighting an opportunity for brands to link gifting and mood-boosting in marketing.”

Delectably innovative portfolio

KitKat Chunky Hazelnut consists of crispy wafer topped with an indulgent hazelnut spread and wrapped in smooth milk chocolate

KitKat remains one of Ireland’s most loved confectionery brands with sales growth consistently strong across key formats. Within chocolate singles, KitKat’s value is up +21.4% year-to-date (YTD)* as it experiences increased demand for its core four-finger, Duo, and Chunky formats.

KitKat Chunky first launched in 1999 and since then has brought innovation to the portfolio through a series of limited edition flavours. The latest addition, KitKat Chunky Hazelnut, consists of crispy wafer topped with an indulgent hazelnut spread and wrapped in smooth milk chocolate. KitKat Chunky Hazelnut is set for an in-store ‘Battle of the Breaks’ style rivalry against KitKat Chunky Peanut Butter. KitKat Chunky Hazelnut will not be around for long though as it has launched as a limited-edition variant, so retailers are advised to stock up now.

One of Ireland’s most loved confectionery brands, KitKat’s value is up +21.4% year-to-date (YTD)

Consumers seeking a plant-based break can now enjoy a four-finger KitKat Vegan made with a rice-based milk alternative to create an indulgent vegan chocolate and crispy wafer combo.

KitKat has been synonymous with breaks for nearly 90 years and last month launched a new advertising campaign ‘Tech Frustrations’ that channels its iconic ‘Have a Break’ positioning. The campaign can be seen on TV and broadcast video on demand, on digital channels such as YouTube, Meta platforms and across out-of-home. It will run until November 2023.

In continuing its commitment towards helping people, communities and the planet have better breaks, KitKat has introduced industry leading packaging innovation through the move to recycled and recyclable packaging across its two-finger biscuit range. Like all Nestlé confectionery products in the UK and Ireland, its range has also been made with 100% certified sustainable cocoa since 2015.

Aero Melts offer delicious discs of light and bubbly milk chocolate that melt effortlessly in the mouth

Aero launched in 1935 as the first ever bubbly chocolate, making it a unique offering that is now available in milk and peppermint chocolate flavours. More recently, the introduction of a limited-edition white variant has helped drive Aero’s performance within chocolate singles which is +18.5% YTD*.

Nestlé continually looks for new ways to allow consumers experience the brand’s famous chocolate bubbles through innovation such as Aero Melts, delicious discs of light and bubbly milk chocolate that melt effortlessly in the mouth. Aero Melts are available in a sharing bag format and other variants within sharing include a peppermint flavoured Aero Bubbles share bag and peppermint and milk chocolate sharing blocks.

Advertising support for Aero resumes over the coming weeks with a campaign that will feature across TV and broadcast video on demand, digital channels and across out of home.

Earlier this year, Nestlé unlocked the power of its sharing portfolio with three of its leading brands – Aero, Milkybar and Munchies all reimagined with a touch of gold. This Golden Collection consisted of Aero Golden Honeycomb Melts sharing bag and Aero Golden Honeycomb sharing block along with Munchies Gold sharing bag, Milkybar Gold sharing bag and Milkybar Gold sharing block of caramel flavoured white chocolate. Milkybar is Nestlé’s number one sharing bag, proving this is a format loved by shoppers across Ireland. At total brand level, Milkybar is growing +23.6% YTD*.

Yorkie is another growth driver within chocolate singles + 20.5% YTD* driven by a robust performance across core milk and raisin and biscuit variants and through the welcome return of Yorkie Honeycomb as a limited-edition single. The brand also continues to deliver for shoppers looking for a Duo format and is part of Nestlé’s Duo offering which includes brands such as KitKat and Lion.

Rowntrees, long synonymous with sugar confectionery, has expanded its vegan friendly offering to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy its fruity chews. Vegan friendly Rowntrees Fruit Gums and Rowntrees Pick & Mix join the existing range alongside vegan friendly Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles and Rowntrees Jelly Tots.

Rowntrees has been a favourite for more than 140 years and continues to develop exciting products to cater to the sugar confectionery market. Earlier this year the brand launched a range of sharing gummy sweets made with real fruit juice and 30% less sugar** plus with no artificial flavourings, colourings, or sweeteners.

Rowntrees sugar singles range is growing +23.9% YTD* while its sugar sharing bags range is growing +20.1% YTD*.

In the Quality Street Collisions sharing bar, the Green Triangle and the Purple One collide to create a triple layer of textures with caramel, a hazelnut filling, and crunchy hazelnut pieces

Given the increased interest in gifting sharing blocks over the past few years, consumers are seeking out new ways to enjoy seasonal confectionery. Last Christmas, Nestlé launched new sharing blocks inspired by two of the most popular flavours of Quality Street. Making a return this year the Quality Street Favourites Orange Crunch bar features a milk chocolate shell with an orange flavour filling and crunchy orange flavour pieces, while the Quality Street Favourites The Purple One features a layer of caramel on a milk chocolate base filled with hazelnuts. New for Christmas is the 235g Quality Street Collisions sharing bar which brings together a collision of The Green Triangle and the Purple One to deliver a triple layer of textured deliciousness consisting of indulgent caramel, a smooth hazelnut filling, and crunchy hazelnut pieces.

The After Eight Collection combines After Eight mints with new flavours and textural sensations to deliver the ultimate mint chocolate collection 

Another gifting solution to consider for seasonal gifting is the After Eight Collection, a delicious indulgent assortment of dark and milk chocolates combining After Eight mints with new flavours and textural sensations for the ultimate mint chocolate collection.  At total brand level, After Eight is currently +32.6% YTD*.

Retailers should maximise the sale opportunity of each of these well-loved brands through ensuring unmissable visibility in-store and Nestlé have developed a suite of impactful POS material to help support this.

*(Source: Value performance source:  Nielsen Total Scantrack incl. Dunnes & Discounter estimate YTD 13/08/23)

**(30% less sugar compared to other Rowntree’s products and similar sweets)

Mouth-wateringly scrumptious

Lily O’Brien’s Desserts Collection contains a selection of six of the most popular dessert recipes from around the world 

To delight your shoppers this festive season, make sure to stock Lily O’Brien’s mouth-wateringly delicious chocolates. All made using Lily O’Brien’s signature chocolate recipe, this delicious range offers the perfect selection to meet all your shoppers’ gifting needs this Christmas.

The much-loved Desserts Collection and the Ultimate Chocolate Collection are both ranked in the top five chocolate collections in the premium inlaid box category (Source: Nielsen MAT Dec 2022) and are must-stock items for the season. The Desserts Collection contains a selection of six of the most popular dessert recipes from around the world and is the perfect luxurious gift for family and friends. The Ultimate Chocolate Collection includes a mix of mouth-wateringly delicious milk, white and dark chocolate recipes beautifully gift wrapped, ideal for gifting on the go for all chocolate lovers.

Lily O’Brien’s Truffles range is available in eye catching 200g cartons of individually wrapped chocolate truffles

New products are a key driver of growth within the confectionery category and Lily O’Brien’s have recently added some new exciting products to the range. Launched last September, the Lily O’Brien’s Truffles range is available in eye catching 200g cartons of individually wrapped sumptuous chocolate truffles. There are three products in the range – Milk Chocolate Truffles, Salted Caramel Truffles and Vanilla Truffles which have all proven very popular with consumers. Salted Caramel Truffles was voted Product of the Year 2023 in the Chocolate Category at the Product of the Year awards, a superb endorsement by consumers.

Lily O’Brien’s has added a new Milk Chocolate Orange recipe to its share bag range


A new product has also been added to the Lily O’Brien’s premium share bag range. The new recipe, Milk Chocolate Orange – delicious milk chocolate with a smooth milk chocolate orange truffle filling full of flavour is sure to be a star performer and is perfect for moments of indulgence, to share or to keep just for oneself. Other recipes available in the share bag range are Creamy Caramels with Sea Salt, Mega Milk, 70% Dark, Crunchy Salted Almond & Butterscotch.

The Lily O’Brien’s brand will be supported with an above-the-line (ATL) campaign in Quarter 4 and impactful POS for in-store display. The campaign message ‘For the ones you really know’ positions Lily O’Brien’s with consumers as the ideal gift to choose for family and friends to show how well they are known and loved.

For a successful Christmas season and to continue to grow your sales this year, the brand advises to make sure to stock Lily O’Brien’s this Christmas Season. Available to order through Tennant & Ruttle, contact your sales representative for more information (www.lilyobriens.ie).

A feast of flavour

Valencia Orange Milk Chocolate Dipped Almonds is the latest addition to the portfolio of the Forest Feast brand, which has grown 35% in the latest 52 weeks

Snacking brand Forest Feast continues to build its presence in the mindful indulgence category with the launch of Valencia Orange Milk Chocolate Dipped Almonds.

It will join the rest of the brand’s Chocolate Dipped Nut line-up and be joined by another variety – Salted Dark Chocolate Dipped Cashews.

“The UK and Irish consumers are big fans of orange, especially when paired with chocolate, and the love they have for this flavour shows no sign of slowing down. We wanted to bring this on-trend taste to the snacking category,” says Bronagh Clarke, marketing director at Forest Feast.

“We produce everything in house, oven roasting our whole almonds, before drenching them in rich Belgian milk chocolate and adding a burst of Valencia orange for a gorgeous creamy, zesty treat,” she adds.

The Forest Feast brand has grown 35% in the latest 52 weeks, putting its success down to its delicious products, creating added value in the category with a loyal consumer following.

The new products are suitable for vegetarians or vegans and are both gluten-free. They are available now with an RRSP of €3.75 for 120g.

Sunshine and rainbows in every bite!

Sonas Sweets’ rebrand mirrors the vibrancy of these jellies; bursting with colour and cheer in every bite

Ampersand, the leading distributor for convenience stores, unveiled an exciting relaunch on its Sonas Sweets bagged jelly range earlier this year. This relaunch brought a fresh, vibrant, and colourful new look to its packaging that is also eco-friendly, with all Sonas Sweets packaging now being fully recyclable.

The renewed branding retains the essence of “sunshine and rainbows,” aligning with the Irish meaning of the word Sonas which translates to “happiness”. The Sonas Sweets logo also underwent a contemporary transformation, now featuring a delightful smiling sun mascot, modern typography, and an array of vibrant rainbow hues adorning the logo and packaging designs. The rebrand mirrors the vibrancy of the jellies within, bursting with colour and cheer in every bite.

To enhance the customer experience, the packaging now employs a colour-coded system, neatly categorising the delectable 24 flavours into three groups. ‘Jellies’ come in striking red packs, ‘Fizzy’ and sour sweets are presented in vivid yellow and orange packs, and the ‘Nibbles’ line of bite-sized treats is packaged in bright blue bags. The new-look packaging has been designed to appeal to both children and adults alike.

With prices starting at just €1, Sonas Sweets Hanging bags promise to bring smiles with every flavour. Additionally, the best-selling €2 Mix-up has been given a refreshing update, now offering an exciting assortment of confectionery in a rainbow of flavours, all presented in distinctive, cheerful packaging.

Ampersand is committed to ensuring that the newly improved Sonas Sweets packaging stands out in stores. To further boost sales, eye-catching coloured stands, branded header boards, and dump bins are available on request and will brighten up any retail outlet while also enticing and encouraging consumers to make a purchase.

For additional information, reach out to your Ampersand representative or contact the Ampersand sales line at 01 4130150.

Elevating the chocolate experience

The Cleeve’s brand been a trusted favourite since its inception in 1882

Ampersand is thrilled to unveil a comprehensive rebranding initiative and an exciting formula upgrade across its Cleeve’s chocolate bar range. Cleeve’s, a cherished name in Irish confectionery, has been a trusted favourite since its inception in 1882 when the Cleeve brothers established the business in Limerick. For over a century, the brand has delighted confectionery enthusiasts with its rich tradition and commitment to crafting delightful milk chocolate confections, toffees, and caramels, all while using the finest Irish dairy ingredients, in honour of its founders.

This latest transformation at Cleeve’s is driven by an exciting recipe upgrade that sets a new standard for indulgence. The chocolate bars, a beloved favourite among loyal customers, will now feature a minimum of 30% cocoa solids, a significant increase that will elevate the quality and chocolate tasting experience. Furthermore, Cleeve’s chocolate is now produced without the use of palm oil or vegetable oil, contributing to its purity and excellence.

Accompanying this recipe enhancement is a fresh packaging design that balances contemporary elegance with timeless vintage charm. The new design pays homage to Cleeve’s storied heritage while embracing a fresh visual identity that resonates with today’s consumers. Bold gold typography and branding evoke nostalgia while maintaining a modern appeal.

The ‘New Recipe Chocolate Bars’ will be wrapped in vibrant, colour-coded flow pack foil packaging, that have been designed to preserve the chocolates’ freshness and the packaging has been revamped to be fully recyclable, aligning with Cleeve’s commitment to sustainability.  Additionally, the bars will be presented in striking full-colour shelf-ready cases that can also be showcased within Cleeve’s acrylic branded countertop stands at prime locations around retail outlets.

The revamped Cleeve’s chocolate bars retail at €1.20 and are available in a convenient 34g format, providing the perfect portion for a delicious treat. This new range includes classic flavours that have been favourites for generations, including:

  • Macaroon: A delightful blend of smooth chocolate and irresistible coconut essence.
  • Mint Crisp: The perfect fusion of refreshing mint and delicate chocolate crispness.
  • Sea Salt Caramel Crisp: A harmonious combination of sweet caramel, savoury sea salt, and crunchy chocolate.

Macaroon and Mint Crisp will also be available in sharing size 90g pack format at €2.30.

Cleeve’s is also delighted to introduce a thrilling new addition to its range – the Cleeve’s Popping Candy Chocolate Bar. This delightful treat combines the creamy goodness of Irish chocolate with the sizzling fun of popping candy, making it an ideal treat for younger consumers. Priced at an affordable RRP of just 50c, it’s a burst of popping candy magic in every bite, wrapped in vintage inspired flow pack packaging. Available in a convenient 20g format, it’s perfect for on-the-go snacking and is sure to put a smile on the faces of both kids and the young at heart.

The Cleeve’s rebrand and recipe enhancement demonstrates Ampersand’s dedication and commitment to providing their customers with top-quality products and delicious treats. For more information or if you would like to order, contact your Ampersand representative or call the sales line on 01 4130150.

Hitting all the sweetest notes!

Butlers Ballotins are available in three sizes: 160g, 320g and 480g featuring 12, 24 and 36 chocolates respectively

Butlers Chocolates is Ireland’s premier family-owned firm dedicated to the craft of exceptional chocolate making. Crafting its delicious chocolates in Dublin since 1932, Butlers produces a stunning range of delicious chocolate gifts with excellent stand-out shelf appeal and impulse lines sure to delight chocolate buyers of all ages.

The Chocolate Collection by Butlers offers a stylish selection of chocolate truffles, pralines and caramels

For a luxury chocolate gift that hits all the sweetest notes, look no further than Butlers Ballotins, which continue to be a must-stock premium Irish-made chocolate gift for the coming festive season. Available in three sizes (160g, 320g and 480g featuring, 12, 24 and 36 chocolates respectively), these beautifully gift-wrapped boxes showcase a delicious selection of classic Butlers favourites. The irresistible selection inside includes Almond Praline, Lemon Heart, Latte and everyone’s favourite – Orange Crunch.

Also available is The Chocolate Collection by Butlers – the definitive chocolate assortment featuring a stylish and contemporary selection of chocolate truffles, pralines and caramels in 185g and 300g sizes – the perfect chocolate gift for every occasion.

Butlers produces an extensive range of beautifully co-ordinated large 180g and 100g solid chocolate bars in a variety of decadent flavours

Taking chocolate indulgence to the next level, Butlers also produces an extensive range of beautifully co-ordinated large 180g and 100g solid chocolate bars in a variety of decadent flavours such as White Salted Almond & Butterscotch, Dark Almond & Orange and Milk & Dark Salted Caramel. Each bar features striking on-pack iconography highlighting Butlers’ responsible manufacturing practices such as recyclable packaging, only using sustainably sourced cocoa, vegetarian ingredients and no palm oil. The Butlers factory in north Dublin is also home to one of the largest solar installations on an industrial premises in Ireland and the company is a fully verified Gold member of Origin Green.

Butlers has Christmas chocolate indulgence all wrapped up and filled to the brim with gorgeous chocolates that taste as good as they look.

For more information on how to stock these lines, email the team at sales@butlers.ie.

Unique nutty recipe

The Lindt Nocciolatte Milk Hazelnut Bar and Noccionoir Dark Hazelnut Bar are ideal on-the-go bars for a tasty energy boost

Since 1845, the Lindt master chocolatiers have combined their expertise with the highest quality ingredients from around the world to produce the finest chocolates. Discover the sumptuous combination of crunchy and creamy with the nutty Lindt Nocciolatte Milk Hazelnut Bar, the ideal on-the-go chocolate bar. Your shoppers will get a delicious boost of energy when they peel back the deep blue wrapping to reveal whole roasted hazelnuts enrobed in a layer of smooth milk chocolate and hazelnut filling, sealed with a final layer of Lindt’s velvety milk chocolate.

For the dark chocolate lovers, discover Noccionoir Dark Hazelnut Bar – with whole roasted hazelnuts enrobed in a layer of intense dark chocolate.

The Lindt Nocciolatte range is growing +76.4% year-on-year

Lindt & Sprüngli is a leader in the confectionery category offering a wide selection of premium quality chocolate and continues to drive growth into Ireland’s countlines category. The Nocciolatte range is growing +76.4% year-on-year (YOY) versus the singles category +12%.

Make sure to stock up and bring a unique nutty recipe to your shoppers with Nocciolatte!

*(Source: Nielsen – Total Scantrack – Nocciolatte 35g range Countlines and Impulse Countlines Category – Value Sales @ MAT to 13.08.23 vs. prior MAT)








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