Whole chocco-lot of love!

A major impulse driver in-store, continuous innovation from the leading brands is ensuring that confectionery continues to be a star category performer, writes Gillian Hamill


Brand Central

21 September 2022

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When it comes to products that consumers impulse buy, retailers know that sugar confectionery is particularly tempting, especially to children. As a nation, we Irish are becoming more health conscious, so natural confections, as well as sugar-free and reduced sugar products are gaining momentum in the category. Manufacturers have also developed gelatine-free options suitable for vegan and vegetarian customers, as well as gluten-free options for coeliacs

Even so, it remains that most consumers prioritise taste when it comes to confectionary, meaning there’s still plenty of demand for indulgent treats. In a constantly evolving sector, it is critical for retailers to ensure they are stocking the biggest brands to drive a strong rate of sale and therefore profit. New products, tempting and different new flavours and formats which pique customers’ curiosity are crucial in continuing to drive category excitement and drive impulse sales.

Innovation drives success

KitKat Chunky Caramel features runny caramel on top of the classic wafer, encased in smooth milk chocolate

New products are a key driver of growth within the confectionery category, especially from well established brands.

Since launching in 1999, KitKat Chunky has delighted fans with its exciting limited edition flavours, including Salted Caramel Popcorn, Cookie Dough, Coconut, Chocolate Fudge and New York Cheesecake. The latest addition to the line-up features a flavour much-loved amongst Irish consumers. Available in both a single and multipack format, KitKat Chunky Caramel consists of a thick layer of runny caramel on top of the brand’s classic wafer, all covered by KitKat’s trademark smooth milk chocolate.

That’s not all in terms of new Chunky variants as KitKat has also launched KitKat Chunky Lotus Biscoff featuring the brand’s trademark crispy wafer topped with a delicious Lotus Biscoff filling, all covered with milk chocolate.

Earlier this year, KitKat also introduced a zesty treat with the launch of a KitKat 4 Finger Orange single and multipack and an indulgent new offering KitKat 2 Finger White, the classic two finger biscuit variant covered in smooth white chocolate.

KitKat Bites offer a more indulgent way to enjoy a break

Within chocolate sharing bags KitKat Bites are another exciting addition to the category. KitKat Bites are KitKat, but not as you know it! With a deliciously smooth and chocolatey centre, crunchy wafer pieces and a milk chocolate shell, KitKat Bites offer consumers a more indulgent way to enjoy a break.

Like the rest of the KitKat range, these variants use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa that has been responsibly sourced as part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, and contains no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives.

The science and technology behind the Aero brand, with its unique combination of chocolate and bubbles that melt effortlessly, have made it a unique offering from the start. Since then, Nestlé has continually looked for new ways to allow consumers experience the brand’s famous bubbles and this year launched a new innovation, Aero Melts. Launching within chocolate sharing bags, Aero Melts are delicious discs of light and bubbly chocolate that melt effortlessly in the mouth and are available in a milk chocolate and a caramel flavour.

Like the rest of the Smarties range, Smarties White use recyclable paper packaging

Smarties have been synonymous with colourful, chocolatey fun for 85 years – and earlier this year the brand celebrated its landmark birthday with the launch of white chocolate Smarties. In recent years white chocolate is becoming increasingly popular and a white chocolate variant of Smarties has long been the number one request from Smarties fans.

Smarties White initially launched in a single tube format followed by a sharing bag and white chocolate fans will welcome the news that there will also be a Smarties White giant tube launching this Christmas.  Like the rest of the range, these new variants come in recyclable paper packaging following Smarties’ move in 2021 to become the first global confectionery brand to move all its products to paper.

Given the increased interest in gifting sharing blocks over the past few years, it is clear that consumers are seeking out new ways to enjoy seasonal confectionery. Just in time for Christmas, Nestlé will launch two new sharing blocks inspired by two of Quality Street’s most popular flavours. 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. Each of these flavours have fantastic breadth of appeal so these variants will offer significant growth opportunity within the sharing block category.

After Eight – The Collection, a boxed inlaid delectable selection of indulgent milk, white and dark chocolates

Meanwhile, After Eight celebrates its 60th birthday this year and what better way to ‘CelebrEight’ this chocolate mint than with a special edition pack design on its core 300g offering.  Also new for Christmas 2022 is the launch of After Eight – The Collection, a boxed inlaid delectable selection of indulgent milk, white and dark chocolates that bring something new while remaining true to all consumers love about After Eight.

Rowntrees is a brand long synonymous with sugar confectionery and earlier in 2022, Rowntrees expanded its vegan friendly offering within sugar confectionery to ensure as many people as possible can now enjoy its fruity chews. Vegan friendly Rowntrees Fruit Gums and Rowntrees Pick & Mix joined the existing range alongside vegan friendly Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles and Rowntrees Jelly Tots.  Suitable for those following vegetarian, vegan and religious diets, these new offerings are likely to attract incremental shoppers. The full Rowntrees range of singles, multipacks and sharing bags also contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

A more premium option

Consumer tasting shows the Duplo biscuit bar has a wide appeal across age groups

The Duplo biscuit bar features two delicate layers of crispy wafer, sandwiched between a smooth hazelnut centre and coated in delicious milk chocolate.

At 100 kcals each and individually wrapped, Duplo is a tasty on-the-go treat for any time of the day. Consumer testing in the UK and Ireland shows a wide appeal across age groups, particularly amongst adults aged 24-45*, due to its distinctive nutty taste and flavour, and creamy texture. This research shows the strong opportunity for retailers to shake up their chocolate biscuit fixture with Duplo, a more premium option.

*(Source: CPT research)

Melt into bliss

Shoppers can now experience the bliss of Lindor in a delicious milk chocolate bar. Since 1845, Lindt has been dedicated to producing the finest chocolates using recipes expertly created by the Lindt master chocolatiers. They have weaved their magic and transformed the iconic Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles into an equally irresistible chocolate bar.

Lindt & Sprüngli is a leader in the confectionery category offering a wide selection of premium quality chocolate. Lindt continues to grow from strength to strength in Ireland. As the number one premium chocolate countline, the Lindor Treat Bar is driving growth in convenience stores ahead of the market and is a proven must-stock range for retailers this year.

Available in a slim stick 38g format, the Lindt Lindor Treat Bar is an ideal on-the go treat, available in a range of delectable flavours

Available in a slim stick 38g format, it is an ideal on-the go treat and is available in a range of delectable flavours. The number one product in the range is the classic Lindor milk with a smooth milk chocolate hiding an irresistibly creamy filling. This is followed by the most recent edition, Salted Caramel which features smooth melting milk chocolate with salt crystals; “an irresistible combination” according to the brand. Each flavour promises to be a “blissful” experience on consumers’ taste buds. Available in retailers nationwide.

This year, make your sales blissful and give your shoppers the most luxurious choice with Lindor!

*(Source: Nielsen – Total Scantrack – Lindor Milk 38g Bar – Value ROS Average – Latest 12 weeks to 22.05.22 vs. prior 12-week period)

Crafting Christmas since 1932

The Chocolate Collection by Butlers features a stylish and contemporary selection of chocolate truffles, pralines and caramels in 185g and 300g sizes

Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Butlers Chocolates is Ireland’s premier family-owned firm dedicated to the craft of exceptional chocolate-making. According to 2022 ‘Opinions Research’, it’s also Ireland’s favourite brand of luxury Irish chocolates.

For a luxury chocolate gift sure to impress this festive season, look no further than Butlers Ballotins, which continue to be a must-stock premium Irish-made chocolate gift. 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 selection inside includes Orange Crunch, Salt Caramel, Almond Praline and Dark Truffle.

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.

Butlers produces an extensive range of 100g solid chocolate bars

Butlers also produces an extensive range of 100g solid chocolate bars, which will soon feature new on-pack iconography highlighting the company’s sustainability initiatives. Butlers’ chocolatiers use sustainably sourced cocoa to craft its exceptional chocolate products and the company is a fully verified Gold member of Origin Green. The Butlers factory in north Dublin is also home to one of the largest solar installations on an industrial premises in Ireland.

Butlers is confident it has chocolate gifting all wrapped up this Christmas, so for more information, email sales@butlers.ie.

Sumptuous selection

Lily O’Brien’s offers the perfect selection of products to meet all your shoppers’ gifting needs

Lily O’Brien’s is known and loved for its premium box chocolate collections and share bag range, perfect for gifting and sharing with family and friends.

The iconic Desserts Collection and the Ultimate Chocolate collection are firm family favourites and ranked in the top five premium chocolate collections and growing well ahead of the market*.

Lily O’Brien’s Desserts Collection and the Ultimate Chocolate Collection are ranked in the top five premium chocolate collections

All Lily O’Brien’s collections are made with the unique delicious Lily O’Brien’s recipes, offering the perfect selection of products to meet all your shoppers’ gifting needs.

To coincide with celebrating 30 years in business, Lily O’Brien’s is now launching a new range of delicious truffle recipes.

The team have spent the last 12 months developing a range of sumptuous chocolate truffles in the world’s best loved flavours – Milk Chocolate Truffle, Salted Caramel Truffle and Vanilla Truffle.

Lily O’Brien’s new truffles are available in Milk Chocolate Truffle, Salted Caramel Truffle and Vanilla Truffle variants

Using Lily O’Brien’s signature chocolate recipe, the thick milk chocolate shell melts away to reveal a silky-smooth indulgent centre delivering a satisfying chocolate hit and an intense flavour experience like no other. An Oooh-so-luxurious delight for the taste buds!

Presented in eye-catching 200g cartons and individually wrapped, Lily O‘Brien’s truffles are the perfect addition for any occasion whether for gifting to loved ones or sharing with family and friends. The range is displayed in space efficient shelf ready packaging for instant instore display and shelf standout.

This exciting new launch from Lily O’Brien’s is supported with an above-the-line (ATL) digital and print campaign and impactful POS displays for Quarter 4 to drive awareness and trial with consumers. 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).

*(Source: Nielsen Mat Dec 2021).

Trick or treat delights!

The Swizzels Sweet Treats tub contains a variety of individually wrapped favourites including Love Hearts, Drumstick Lollies and Refreshers

Halloween is the biggest calendar event for sugar confectionery, and it is set to be huge for 2022 as consumers resume their pre-Covid lifestyles. “Therefore, it’s essential to stock a range of best-selling, well known brands to entice customers that are looking to make the most of the festivities,” says Jeremy Dee, managing director at Swizzels.

Three of the top five Halloween products are from Swizzels* so store owners can expect consumers will be seeking the most popular products in anticipation for the season.

From classic ranges to newer creations, Swizzels is always looking for new ways to excite taste buds

Perfect for all sharing occasions, Swizzels’ Variety bags have recently been rebranded to include everyone’s favourites in three different packs, such as Luscious Lollies (132g), Scrumptious Sweets (134g), and Curious Chews (135g). Available in a £1 PMP, the bags are free from artificial colours and are now all suitable for vegans.

Swizzels is the number one variety pack seller at Halloween*; meaning retailers can confidently stock up in anticipation for high demand.

Another product from Swizzels that is perfect for selling over the Halloween period and beyond is the Sweet Treats Tub. One of Swizzels’ most popular products for sharing, the product contains a variety of individually wrapped favourites including Love Hearts, Drumstick Lollies and Refreshers, meaning there’s something for everyone, making it a guaranteed seller and a must-stock. The return of pre-Covid life means we expect a lot of trick or treaters this year, so this tub is the ideal people-pleaser!

The return of pre-Covid life means we expect a lot of trick or treaters this year, and Swizzles is on hand to help retailers fulfil this demand

Swizzels’ top three tips to maximise profits for retailers:

  • Prioritise stocking the right range of sugar confectionery

Halloween is one specific time of year where sugar confectionery plays the biggest role with consumers. Customers will be looking for a variety of products, from single confectionery to variety bags, PMPs and vegan sweets. Stocking the biggest and best brands will drive a strong rate of sale and therefore profit.

Value-for-money confectionery continues to be a hugely popular choice for shoppers, particularly as financial circumstances have changed post-pandemic.

According to recent research, one in five shoppers are more likely to shop in a particular convenience store if they know it stocks PMPs**, and price-marked packs sell five times more than non-price marked equivalents**, so it’s also important for retailers to stock a range of value products from popular brands to boost sales.

  • Swizzels’ Luscious Lollies, Scrumptious Sweets and Curious Chews are now all suitable for vegansStock and highlight seasonal ranges

With Halloween comes seasonal ranges of popular sweets. Customers will be on the lookout for any opportunities to stock up on these to fit in with themed parties and trick or treats, so they are sure to be in high demand.

To make it easier to find, store owners should also create a section in-depot or online that highlights this range – in a location that customers will definitely walk by, e.g., at the front of the depot.

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of displays

Seasonal events are the perfect time to create and produce displays that promote your Halloween offering in a useful way.

*(Source: IRI, Sugar Confectionery category, Value Sales 52wks to 17/04/2022, Total Market data UK)

**(Source: HIM, 2021)

A rich history

Cleeve’s Original Iced Caramels use the same original recipe and method that has been enjoyed by consumers for over 90 years

Established in 1882, Cleeve’s Irish Confectionery is Ireland’s oldest surviving confectionery brand and has a history as rich as its toffee and chocolate.

The Cleeve’s Irish Confectionery range includes delicious milk chocolate bars and confectionery, toffee and caramels products which continue the Cleeve’s tradition of using the finest Irish dairy ingredients, a tradition dating back to when the Cleeve brothers first established the business in Limerick. Experts in toffee making since 1882, Cleeve’s Slab Toffee was a much-loved Irish treat exported all over the world and is back on the Irish market by popular demand.

Hanging bags

The Cleeve’s hanging bag range comprises of Irish classic treats and all-time favourites which are made using Cleeve’s traditional recipes and quality Irish dairy products sourced locally. The Cleeve’s hanging bag selection includes Chocolate Caramels, Original Toffee, Macaroon Bites and Irish Golden Days and the classic favourite, Original Iced Caramels.

Cleeve’s Original Iced Caramels are made to the same original recipe and method that has been enjoyed by consumers for over 90 years and is still as delightful as ever. Uniquely delicious, the chewy caramels are covered in a crisp coating of pink and white icing sugar. A retro sweet treat that can be enjoyed by all. Produced exclusively in Ireland by Cleeve’s Irish Confectionery, these iconic treats are one of a kind. Original Iced Caramels are available in a hanging bag format and a Treat Pack format developed for luxury snacking on-the-go. Each pack contains six Original Iced Caramels of the much-loved Irish confectionery classic and would also make a sweet little gift for a loved one.

Chocolate bars

The classic range of chocolate bars are made from the finest Irish dairy ingredients. A selection of seven tasty flavours combined with deliciously creamy chocolate. The chocolate bar range includes Macaroon, Sea Salt Caramel Crisp, Mint Crisp, Classic Milk Chocolate, Classic Dark Chocolate, Honey Crisp and Orange Crisp in a 50g format and Macaroon and Mint in a sharing-size 90g format.

More information about Cleeve’s can be found at cleevesirishconfectionery.ie and across the brand’s social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook. Cleeve’s social media activity serves as powerful communication tools for the brand and their consumers’ nationwide. Followers get a chance to keep up to date with all things Cleeve’s Irish Confectionery and deep dive into the brand’s history, learn more about Cleeve’s wide range of products, view some behind the scenes videos and enter the occasional competition.

Ampersand has also been working on some exciting plans for the Cleeve’s brand next year and are looking forward to sharing the details with retailers and consumers in 2023.

If you are interested in stocking Cleeve’s, call the Ampersand sales line on 01-4130100 or email info@ampersandsales.ie.

Spreading happiness

Colourful stands and header boards are available from Ampersand to merchandise the Sonas Sweets range in-store

Sonas Sweets has been bringing joy to adults and children alike for the last five years since Ampersand launched the confectionery brand onto the Irish market. Quite apt, as the word Sonas translates to “happiness” in Irish. The brand is packed in Ireland with premium jellies of the highest quality selected for consumer enjoyment and to the highest standards of food safety and compliance.

The Sonas Sweets range of jellies comprises of a range of hanging bags and a €2 mix-up. The hanging bag range continues to be a popular choice with retailers offering a mix of 24 of the most popular jelly favourites. Colourful stands and header boards are available from Ampersand to merchandise the range in-store. The €2 mix-up, the best seller from the range is made up of classic favourites and unusual jellies, all packaged in bright, colourful and cheerful packaging. Dump bins and eye-catching posters are also available to drive awareness and sales in-store.

Sonas Sweets is currently available on promotion. Ampersand has some great-value volume deals on offer and some special introductory promotion deals available to retailers on their first order.

Ampersand has also been working on some exciting plans for the brand which retailers and consumers can expect to see in the coming months. Watch this space to find out more information.

If you are interested in stocking Sonas Sweets, get in touch with Ampersand on 01 4130150 or email info@ampersandsales.ie or you make contact via the website at www.ampersandsales.ie.

Eight in ten eat chocolate weekly – but almost a third store it incorrectly

To appreciate the depth of flavours, chocolate should be stored outside of the fridge in a cool, dark place, says Nomo’s Angela Beckett

New UK research by vegan and free-from chocolate brand Nomo has shown that chocolate is the nation’s favourite snack, with almost half of respondents picking it as their top choice (46%) – with crisps (13%), cake (9%) and cheese (5%) following by some distance. In total, of those who have ever tried chocolate, eight in ten have it at least once a week, with a third eating it at least once a day

In fact, the nation is so chocolate obsessed that a third would rather give up Love Island (34%), dating apps (32%), and Strictly Come Dancing (31%). Whilst one in four would prefer to pack in alcohol (27%) and football (25%) than go without.

Yet, the research commissioned by NOMO found that despite chocolate’s popularity there remains great confusion about how it should be stored.

The UK’s number one vegan and free from chocolate brand found that a third (34%) store it in the fridge, around one in three (30%) store it out of it and almost a third (29%) sit on the fence, flittering between storing it in and out of the fridge.

The confusion is all the more baffling given almost two-thirds of chocolate is bought based on its taste and a quarter based on texture – two elements that vary significantly depending on the way chocolate is stored according to Nomo.

“The temperature of chocolate has a huge impact on the texture and the flavour delivery – more than you might expect,” said Angela Beckett who manages the development of new products at Nomo. “The aromatic cocoa notes are more apparent at higher temperatures, so if you want to appreciate the depth of flavours it should be stored outside of the fridge in a cool, dark place. Around 18 to 21 degrees Celsius is the goldilocks zone for chocolate – it’s not too hot that it’s melting but not too cold that it loses its flavour!”

Nearly a third said that the brand dictated their choice – with around one in ten saying respectively that eco-credentials (10%), being vegan (9%) or free from allergens (9%) were the most important things when buying chocolate.

It comes as the research found that one in five people have eaten vegan chocolate in the past 12 months – although 43% have never given it a go.

Of those to have ever tried vegan chocolate, a third did so to reduce their dairy consumption (32%), almost a third (29%) did it for the environment and a quarter said they followed a plant-based diet (24%).

Around a quarter (23%) said vegan chocolate offered a better range of flavours with an equal proportion feeling bored of dairy chocolate. Whilst a fifth (21%) simply preferred the taste.

Nomo’s top tips when eating chocolate:  

  1. Measure the milk: For milk chocolate the type and amount of dairy or dairy alternative really affects the flavour of the chocolate. Typically, the more milk or plant-based milk, the smoother, creamier and sweeter the chocolate is. So, depending on your own tastes you may prefer milkier or less milky choc.
  2. Cleanse your pallet: What you have already eaten affects how you perceive flavours. To really appreciate the flavour of what you are tasting make sure you have not had anything to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes before. Also avoid smoking for 30 mins before tasting.
  3. Shape matters: The shape of chocolate alters the flavour because it affects the way it melts in your mouth and therefore the time release of the chocolate notes. Find a shape that works for you!
  4. Goldilocks temperature: Aromatic cocoa notes are more apparent at higher temperatures and so 18 to 21 degrees Celsius is not so hot that your chocolate melts, but not so cold that the flavour doesn’t come through.

Euromonitor: ‘Consumers still looking for new and more sophisticated products’

In July of this year, Euromonitor published a new report entitled ‘Chocolate Confectionery in Ireland’. According to the analyst, “major companies, such as Mondelez Ireland Production Ltd, Nestlé Ireland and Mars Foods Ireland will continue their dominance within chocolate confectionery in Ireland. An extensive portfolio of well-known brands, the capability to offer a diverse range of flavours, packaging types and acquire successful brands gives them an unassailable lead in chocolate confectionery.”

With inflation rising in 2022, Euromonitor writes that “the heavy focus on price may well overshadow product development. However, consumers are still looking for new and more sophisticated products that deliver a novel taste or format and that are more ethical”. This bodes well for premium confectioners that offer a more luxurious product that is ideal for gifting or when shoppers want some ‘me-time’ indulgence.








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